It is well documented (and common sense) that the most successful brands build strong emotional connections with their audiences. In fact, neuroscientists have demonstrated that emotions drive decision-making and purchase choice. It would make sense then, that the world’s most loved brands are those that have the strongest link to emotions.

A recent study by APCO of the world’s largest organizations focused on their link to eight emotional feelings: understanding, approachability, relevance, admiration, curiosity, identification, empowerment, and pride. The brands with the highest emotional links were directly associated with the most loved brands.

The eight feelings, says APCO, are the most reliable predictor of brand choice and loyalty. Walt Disney topped the list (linked to understanding and curiosity), followed by Yahoo (understanding and approachability) and Google (pride and approachability).


There’s no formula on branding for emotional impact; each audience and brand is unique. When designing for emotional impact (and who isn’t?) go with your gut. The following three tips are meant to serve as a guide, but should be discussed with your design team and client.

#1) Research the audience you are designing/writing for.
Yes, this is an obvious first step – but it’s often overlooked. Even if you are provided personas or target audiences, brainstorm and really think about these people. Who are they? What do they care about? What are their pain points? Take a walk in their shoes.

#2) Think about how you want your audience to feel.
Narrow it down to one emotion, and confirm your writing and design supports it. For example, if you are designing a website for a bank and want to communicate the feeling of understanding, don’t use confusing, technical words. Be creative! Think beyond the eight emotions above.

#3) Communicate personality.
Personality has power; it’s the platform for emotion. Personalities form relationships. Relationships form loyalty.

Interested in this topic? Don’t miss this classic.

What are some brands that tug at your emotions, and why? Tell us in the comments!


Molly Davis is a Communication Strategist at MetaDesign San Francisco.

About Molly Davis Lind

Just be.

4 Responses

  1. Great ideas!! Branding is not only the means of logo but it is a message communicates your brand to targeted people. Your factors about brands are really impressive. Thanks for this informative sharing.

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