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Emotional Marketing

Emotional Marketing for Global Success: How to Make Your Audience Fall in Love with Your Brand In Every Corner of the World

As marketing goals go, making your audience fall in love with your brand may seem like a bit of a tall order. But we are living in the emotional marketing era, where we present every bit of information as familiar and relatable to potential customers. The emotional connection is what matters most – messages stay in people’s minds for a long time, which is exactly what marketing campaigns aim to achieve.

The emotional aspect of marketing is not a new concept. In fact, it has been around for centuries and used by some of the most successful brands in the world. But with the rise of social media and digital marketing, emotional marketing has become more important than ever before. Why? Because the overload of content and constant barrage of advertising has made people numb to traditional marketing techniques.

The only way to break through the noise and connect with your audience on a deeper level is to achieve memorability – and emotions are the key to that. While emotional marketing has been widely researched and adopted in the business world, there is one aspect of it that is often overlooked: emotional marketing for multilingual audiences. In this article, we will explore the relationship between languages, cultures, and emotions, and how you can use emotional marketing to your advantage when translating your content into other languages.

In this post:

What is emotional marketing?

Emotional marketing is the practice of using emotions to connect with your audience and promote your brand. It is based on the idea that people make decisions based on their emotions, not logic. And while we like to think that we are rational beings, the truth is that our emotions play a much bigger role in decision-making than we care to admit.

In emotional marketing, the focus is on creating an emotional connection with your audience. You can achieve this connection through various means – by sharing your brand’s story, by using evocative language, or by creating emotional ads. The goal is to make your audience feel something, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, or fear. And when you can make your audience feel something, you are more likely to create a lasting impression.

Emotion is one of the key components to extend the customer’s attention span – to leverage their cognitive biases and make your audience notice and remember you, and then buy from you. John Hegarty very rightfully said, “The first lesson of branding is memorability. It’s very difficult buying something you can’t remember.”

Emotional marketing and memorability quote by John Hegarty

The emotions spectrum and the impact of cultural differences

When you first think about your brand’s emotional marketing strategy, it’s likely you’ll first thing of evoking a few basic emotions:

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Surprise
  • Disgust

Happy content is more likely to be shared, while fear-based content gets more clicks. Sadness can create a sense of urgency, while anger can be used to rally people around a cause.

But it’s important to remember that:

  1. Emotions exist on a spectrum
  2. Emotional triggers aren’t universal

Emotions exist on a spectrum

When we think about emotions, it’s easy to think of them as binary: happy or sad, angry or afraid. But in reality, emotions exist on a spectrum. For example, you can be slightly happy, very happy, or ecstatic. You can be mildly annoyed, irritated, or infuriated. The human brain hosts a mandala of emotions, with different shades and hues.

And this emotional spectrum is important to keep in mind when you are creating content, because the emotional response you want to evoke will determine the tone and style of your writing. Fury is a very different emotional responses than anger, and will require different techniques to evoke. The same goes for happiness – content that is meant to make your audience feel delighted will be very different than content that is meant to make them feel pleased.

Emotional triggers aren’t universal

In addition to the emotional spectrum, it’s important to remember that what evokes one emotional response in one person may not have the same effect on another. This is because emotional responses are shaped by our individual experiences, worldviews, and – crucially – culture.

For example, a piece of content about climate change that focuses on telling emotional stories about the effects of climate change on real people might trigger a feeling of sadness in some people, while provoking anger in others. This is because our emotional responses to climate change are shaped by our cultural context.

In individualist societies, for example, stories that focus on the impact of climate change at an individual level – e.g., the connection between the climate crisis and mental health – are more likely to evoke an emotional response, because they emphasize the way that climate change affects individual people. In collectivist societies, on the other hand, stories that focus on the way climate change affects groups of people – e.g., the health and social costs of global warming – are more likely to evoke an emotional response.

This is just one example of how culture can shape our emotional responses, and it’s something that you need to keep in mind when you’re creating content for a global audience.

What studies say

According to a recent psychological study, “emotions are cultural phenomena because we learn to have them in a cultural way.” This is one of the reasons why, for example, the interpretation of emoji varies from one culture to another. Batja Mesquita, a pioneer in cultural psychology, has been researching the role of culture in our emotional lives for decades. This is what she has to say about it:

We don’t really know discrete emotions when we are born; we only distinguish between pleasant and unpleasant. In interacting with others, we learn to categorize and experience emotions in certain ways. People in different cultures acquire different emotions. For example, people in many Western contexts may think of shame as a bad emotion. But shame is considered a good emotion in other cultures—it is in one category with modesty and embarrassment and these feelings show that you have propriety, that you know your place in the world. 

Psychology Today

Consequently, for emotional marketing to be successful in appealing to a global audience, it needs adaptation to each particular culture. In more technical terms, emotional marketing requires localization.

Moreover, and also as reported on Psychology Today, the influential role of emotion in consumer behaviour is well documented through techniques such as:

  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): fMRI allows us to study brain activity in real-time. This technique shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (feelings and personal experiences), rather than information (attributes, features, and facts).
  • Facial Action Coding System (FACS): This is an objective way of measuring emotions by using software to analyse the facial micro-expressions of test subjects when a particular ad is displayed.
  • Eye-Tracking (ET): It is proven that when we feel engaged with an ad, we tend to fixate on it for a longer time. Pupil dilation is also usually bigger when we see something that interests us. This technique is used extensively in neuromarketing.
  • Galvanic Skin Response (GSR): GSR is another method for measuring emotional arousal. It consists of placing sensors on the skin to detect small electrical changes that happen when we feel emotional excitement or stress. In general, these techniques have shown that emotional ads generate certain moves in the corner of the mouth or even dynamic wrinkles activity.
  • Electromyography (EMG): This technique captures and records the electrical activity of muscles. It is often used to measure emotional responses to ads, such as feelings of pleasantness, liking, or excitement.

The role of localisation

Batja Mesquita, the cultural psychology expert quoted above, explains that most cultures don’t think about their emotions as something that lives inside of an individual, but more as something between people. In those cultures, emotions are what people do together, with each other.

Framing emotions this way has consequences for the way we behave and relate to others. And when you think of the brand-customer relationship and the purchasing behaviour, the importance of adapting to each particular culture becomes crystal clear: to tap into the emotional side of your customers, you need to understand how they emotionalise their relationship with brands. And that’s where localisation comes into play.

Culture shapes emotional responses

The way we emotionalise our relationship with brands is, obviously, strongly tied to cultural values and norms. Different cultures have different emotional responses to the same situation. And this is something that your multilingual emotional marketing strategy must consider.

You can think of localisation as the process of adapting your content to the target market – their habits, preferences, cultural norms, and emotional responses – while making sure that the message, tone, and style are kept intact. Because of the level of cultural sensitivity required, localisation goes way beyond simple translation.

Localisation professionals adapt your content for local consumption, with the purpose of making it resonate emotionally with your target audience. Achieving the same emotional response in the target market as in the source market often requires making changes to the content, not just translating it.

An example of localisation at the service of emotional marketing

Marketing in China as a Western company can be a challenge. Different emotional responses, cultural values, and norms can make it difficult for brands from further afield to find their footing and connect with the Chinese audience.

Heinz, however, has had a number of undisputable emotional marketing successes in China. They key to their success? A deep understanding of emotional responses in Chinese culture and localisation that went beyond simple translation.

In 2021, for example, despite an already high penetration rate in the Chinese market, Heinz still faced the challenge of low usage frequency for its ketchup and mayo. In order to increase usage, they needed to find a way to emotionalise their relationship with their Chinese audience.

They discovered that their target audience didn’t associate these condiments with local cuisine. And they knew that the emotions around local cuisine – pride, happiness, comfort – were key to driving purchase. Their solution was to frame Heinz products as an unconventional way to enrich traditional Chinese dishes.

Heinz’s “Unconventionally tastier!” campaign was a hit. The message was simple: Heinz makes your conventional food unconventionally tastier. This was portrayed throughout carefully paired dish-to-sauce combinations throughout the touch points. “These introductions were mainly strategised to capitalise on the stay at home period during peak of COVID-19 where insights indicated people are more inclined to try new flavours and experiment food at home given the restrictions in restaurants,” the company said.

The reason this campaign worked so well is that it acknowledged a pain point – the perceived lack of connection between Heinz and local cuisine. And it offered a solution that emotionalised the relationship between the two: by proudly claiming that Heinz customers can now enjoy their favourite dishes with a delicious, international twist, simultaneously satisfying their pandemic-driven needs for new flavours, time-passing experimentation, and comfort.

Multilingual emotional marketing: Best practices

The moment you discover that good, impactful content that appeals to people’s emotions is not only an effective way to reach your target audience but also the key to convert prospects into customers, you realize the importance of emotional marketing.

And the moment you wake up to the fact that emotional marketing can be enormously challenging in English alone, you may be forgiven for wondering how on earth you can hope to pull it off in other languages.

So here are some useful tips to get you started on your emotional marketing journey in multiple languages:

1. Keep it simple

The KISS principle applies to emotional marketing as much as it does to any other form of marketing. When you try to tap into the emotions of your target audience in another language, resist the temptation to be too clever or flowery.

Instead, focus on being clear and concise. Use short, simple sentences and easy-to-understand language. Remember that your goal is to connect with your audience on an emotional level, not to show off your linguistic prowess.

2. Be authentic

Your emotional marketing efforts will only be successful if they are genuine. People can tell when you’re trying too hard or when you’re not being sincere.

So make sure that your emotional appeals are coming from a place of authenticity. Be genuine in your desire to connect with your audience and honest about the emotional response you’re trying to evoke.

3. Know your audience

Before you can start writing emotionally charged content in another language, you need to have a good understanding of who your target audience is.

Think about what kinds of emotions they are likely to respond to and what language they will understand. Only then will you be able to create content that resonates with them on an emotional level.

4. Use images and videos

In emotional marketing, a picture is worth a thousand words. So don’t underestimate the power of visual media to get your message across.

Use images and videos to supplement your text and help convey the emotional appeal of your brand. Just make sure that any visuals you use are high-quality and relevant to your target audience.

5. Plan ahead

As with any other marketing strategy, emotional marketing requires planning and forethought. You need to know what emotional response you want to evoke and how you’re going to go about evoking it.

Base every decision on your emotional marketing strategy, from the language you use to the images you select. And make sure to measure the results of your efforts so that you can fine-tune your strategy over time.

6. Don’t just write for the sake of it

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in emotional marketing is to write for the sake of it. Just because you’re trying to evoke an emotional response doesn’t mean that your content has to be sappy or sentimental.

Your goal should be to produce quality content that just happens to be emotional. So focus on writing well, and the emotional appeal of your content will follow.

7. Work with professionals

Emotional marketing is not something you can do halfheartedly. If you’re serious about using emotional marketing to connect with your target audience, you need to work with a professional (hi!) who can help you create and execute a well-thought-out strategy.

Partner up with a team of translators specialised in marketing, with a sound understanding of the target culture and what makes them tick emotionally. This way, you can be sure that your emotional marketing efforts are on point and achieving the desired results.

8. Harness the power of SEO

One of the best ways to ensure that your emotional marketing efforts are successful is to combine them with a solid SEO strategy. Again, leave tasks such as SEO translation, multilingual SEO, keyword research, and international link building to the professionals.

By working with a team of SEO and marketing experts, you can be sure that your emotional marketing strategy is as effective as possible.

Emotional marketing is to business growth what oxygen is to fire

To ignite the passion of your target audience and keep them engaged with your brand, emotional marketing is essential. If you’re not already using emotional marketing to connect with your audience, now is the time to start.

While it can be tricky to get right, it’s well worth the effort. By using emotional marketing, you can tap into the heart of your target audience and make them fall in love with your brand.

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