What's More Important, Head Or Heart?

After the dogged recession and uncertainty of recent years, it seems we're coming out of it in a more hopeful, optimistic mood. So why not focus on positive emotion and happiness in marketing?

We've always believed in leveraging "enjoyment" for the consumer brands we work with. Nothing elicits more of an emotional response from people than associations of "enjoyment" with brands.

Here's the point: rationality plays into purchasing decisions, but emotional connections can be the deciding factor when a number of branded products otherwise seem fairly equal. In package design, licensing and consumer promotion work, there is significant value in creating a special moment between consumer and brand.

Heritage brands usually enjoy a pleasant history with generations of consumers. Yet marketers often focus on "new and improved" aspects of products and rational/functional benefits, often forgetting to leverage those very assets that evince an emotional reaction and a deeper connection.

The chance to appeal to people on an emotional level should never be missed. A developing trend points to this. Infusing a bit of pleasure, some joy and some humor go a long way to giving customers what they need, right when they're craving it most.

Findings in a recent Association of National Advertisers Brand Management Survey substantiate this shift. Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA, said: "For the average consumer, the emotional benefits took a back seat to understanding how a brand would deliver real value ... during the recession. ... In the recovery, we expect greater use of emotional benefits by aspiring brands to drive long-term health."

Strategy: extend your brand leveraging positive emotions. Crayola recently extended its brand, creating Liv Crayola. Research showed that teenage girls felt the Crayola brand left them as they grew up, not the other way around. The Liv Crayola line of stationery products can be customized and personalized.

Two apps on the Crayola Facebook page allow kids to "jazz up photos with Liv Crayola-inspired designs or "create your own Crayola color nickname and find your True Colors." Tapping into teen girls' desire to express their uniqueness by inviting them to co-create their own products is a brilliant idea. They'll text friends for a shared experience.

Strategy: dare to launch emotive campaigns when your competitors are focusing on features and benefits. Apple's new iPhone 4 offers a slimmer design, high-resolution screen, HD video recording/editing, a 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom, LED flash and more. But why talk about a laundry list of features when people can be engaged on an emotional level? Don't they already expect updated Apple products to offer sophisticated new features?

Filmmaker Sam Mendes' new "Face Time" iPhone 4 ad spot is brilliant. What's the emotional aspect of purchasing the iPhone? Staying connected with family and friends.

Strategy: get more real and less virtual: it's so human. Kraft's Chips Ahoy brand's new campaign -- "There's a lotta joy in Chips Ahoy!" -- is catchy and memorable. Ads depicting infectious, unbridled dancing for joy moments between moms and their kids are a departure for the brand. Previous campaigns using virtual "Cookie Guys" were cute, but they didn't get at the enjoyable aspect of eating Chips Ahoy cookies. So out with the virtual; in with the real. Why not remind adults and kids alike of the sheer joy of eating a favorite cookie?

Strategy: appeal to the kid in all of us. Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese brand has done an about-face, too. A campaign was created with taglines: "You know you love it" and "The most fun you can have with your clothes on." Messaging used to be about purchasing a ready-to-make meal on the cheap, especially during a tough economy. Now Kraft is focusing on the enjoyment aspects of the brand, shifting from rational to emotional appeal.

Crayola and Kraft are onto something important here. Marketers of heritage brands should ask themselves: how can we leverage the happy memories of childhood to adults who love our brands?

For "enjoyment" assets to be fully leveraged and consumers to be emotionally engaged, coordinated campaigns should be orchestrated via every consumer touchpoint: Web sites, social media, traditional advertising impressions and packaging.

There's only a brief moment to make a strong impression with consumers: make it memorable. My advice: lead with the heart; the mind will follow.

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