Emotional Marketing: What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?

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Emotional Marketing

Admit it, you’ve already got the Tina Turner classic “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” in your head now. And if not, just take a little break and listen below (YAY 90s music!):

Mission accomplished.

Now on to what LOVE has to do with emotional marketing …

Marketing Is Taking On A New Direction

If you popped over to Google and did a quick search for humanizing your brand, you’d get thousands of results.

In fact, my search for “how to humanize your brand” this morning returned 754,000 results in .60 seconds.

The first page is littered with numbered lists on ways to humanize your brand – most from names we marketers have come to recognize.

It seems big brands and companies are starting to understand that the nature of sales online is changing … the Consumer Revolution marches on, crushing Facebook Reach and PPC conversions in its wake.

Consumerism Crisis: What do consumers want?

You only have to look in the mirror to find out. For me, I want:

  • Trust: I’m tired of being overpromised and underdelivered
  • Transparency: I’m tired of finding out your squeaky clean image is dark and dingy underneath
  • Value: I’m tired of fluff and regurgitation, replication and redundancy – HELP ME already!
  • Recognition: I’m not User1234, I’m Brooke Ballard and I’m interacting with your brand in a meaningful way. HELLO?!

In those things alone you can come up with a mirad of fears consumers are facing – and I can think of two really HOT topics based on the above:

  • Data security (trust and transparency)
  • Privacy (trust and transparency)

In a market dominated by the Four P’s, brands have forgotten about the 5th P (as Brian Solis so eloquently put it), PEOPLE.

Emotional Marketing: What's Love Got To Do With It

(Fake) Emotional Marketing

Consumers have gone from being dollar signs to avatars. Yes, companies may now “see” us — put a face with a name — but are they really investing in our feelings? Or are they just counting clicks?

Very few are using social media to build authentic relationships, though they pretend to be doing so on Facebook, Twitter and the like.

It’s not REAL conversation and connection that’s happening …

I recently wrote a post for Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog about how to get a better return on conversation with emotional marketing. The idea comes from my undergraduate thesis work completed at Penn State.

It takes a look at the paint-by-numbers social that’s going on with many, well-known brands. I highly recommend reading it to really delve into the Social Penetration Theory (the crux of my thesis), and to better understand the four levels of disclosures we use to build relationships:

  1. Clichés
  2. Facts
  3. Opinions
  4. Feelings

#1 and #2 are where most social interactions sit; in “faking it ’till you make it” or “I’m going to bore you with educational corporate speak” mode.

When you get to #3, opinions, you really start to break away from the pack because you’re asking for (and hopefully receiving) psychographics.

This is where you start to uncover what your target audience:

  • Feels
  • Believes in
  • Values
  • Thinks

And if we focus on that first word, feels, we’re moving to the deepest disclosure you can give to another person (or brand) (#4).

Feelings are a self-disclosure. They help us achieve intimacy. And when they are reciprocal they help us build TRUST.

Have you connected the dots yet?

Dude with heart balloon

What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?

In my post for {grow} I pointed out how difficult it was for me to find brands successfully using the fourth level (feelings) of self-disclosure with their social audiences.

Subaru is one brand who’s been putting stock in feelings — more specifically LOVE — for many years now.

Even their tagline on their commercials is LOVE.

A quick search of their site today confirms that using the word LOVE is an integral part of their branding and messaging strategy. Here’s the graphic for the Subaru pre-owned spring sales event:

Subaru love


Notice they use the actual word (love) twice, and convey it a third time with the heart.

Other Brands Getting On The LOVE Boat

While Subaru has had a few years head start with using feeling words to elicit feelings from fans, I’ve recently seen two new brands jumping on the trend.

HGTV started a multi-screen campaign by asking its fans to tweet using the hashtag #LoveHGTV.

A quick Twitter search of the hashtag shows users sharing their LOVE (yes, they’re disclosing their feelings/love for certain shows, designs, etc.) with tweets, pictures, tips, and other banter.

Similarly, back in March DSW started an online campaign, “Prove Your Shoe Love 4 Free Shoes.”

DSW love


The contest is held under a tab entitled, “Epic Shoe Love” on their site. Coincidence? I think not.

The word love can be found 8 times on the page within the text (9 if you count comments from fans).

Is Love A Second Hand Emotion, Or Something More?

In a time when trust is scarce, when we’re tired of being seen as User1234 or an avatar, will brands be able to gain our trust with emotional marketing?

Will they start to use feelings to get us to feel again?

Will they become more human in the hopes of reconnecting with a disenchanted consumer base?

Perhaps. Time will tell. I fear many will continue to use surface level disclosures (clichés and facts) to try and “talk” to us.

But if they want to gain our trust, they have to use opinions and feelings (with transparency and value) to make it work.

What’s your take? I’d LOVE (Ahem. See what I did there?!) to know what your opinions and feelings are in the comments section below. 🙂

See you in the social sphere!


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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Category: Emotional Marketing, Marketing, , , , ,
Tags: content, disclosures, , Trust, Value
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