How Brands Are Leveraging Emotion More During The COVID-19 Pandemic

It has been shown by psychologists and neuroscientists such as Daniel Kahneman and Antonio Damasio that humans process information and make decisions based on emotion.

The same is true regarding purchase decisions, highlighting the importance of appealing to people's emotions in the ways that brands connect with audiences and how they market.

Our Brand Intimacy model and approach is based on this principle. Brand Intimacy is defined as the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.

Our Brand Intimacy 2020 Study has again revealed that top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years. This further highlights the importance of emotion in brand building, and how it directly relates to a company's bottom line.

Prior to COVID-19, many brands focused on more traditional and rational processes and communications.



However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for shared connections, we are seeing emotion play a much greater role in the branding and advertising measures of companies.

In April, the ANA released findings of a survey that revealed that more than 90% of respondents “have adjusted their creative marketing messaging since mid-March, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.”

In a recent analysis, we showed that Microsoft is an example of a brand that has been successful in effectively leveraging emotional and building bonds with its customers. The brand has continually climbed in rankings in our study, and this year placed 19th overall and fourth in the tech & telecom industry.

Over the years, Microsoft's branding has taken on a more human angle and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has changed its communications, demonstrating how it cares and is focused on issues such as preserving privacy, accelerating remote learning, and providing supporting messaging, among others.

Other brands are using emotion to connect to consumers during these challenging times.

Dove recently launched a Dad On ad focused on the dads taking care of their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and also highlighting those who are frontline workers.

Ford launched a new ad and social media campaign in May focused on the importance of manufacturing in the U.S. and also underscoring the flexibility of its workers, as they shifted gears during the pandemic to manufacture medical supplies.

Walmart has paid additional bonuses to associates working during the COVID-19 pandemic and also launched a heroes tv ad in March thanking frontline workers.

We expect that the use of emotion in branding will continue to increase during the pandemic, and even after it eases.

These challenging times are revealing the importance of frontline workers -- from doctors to nurses to grocery store employees to delivery people (to name a few) –- and also revealing to people what is truly important to them.

Brands are taking notice -- and structuring not only their communications, but often their services around helping essential workers -- and supporting the significant elements of a socially distanced life, building stronger and hopefully more resilient connections with their customers.

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