Branding with Emotion
It is well known that people often buy based on emotions, and justify with facts. PsychologyToday.com cites a study which showed “when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions [such as] personal feelings and experiences rather than information.”
Though offering very different products, two relatively new brands, Packed Party Gift Boxes and S’well Water Bottles have used this unique, human tendency to turn their brands from one-woman shows to nationwide phenomenon in a matter of years. Each company has taken advantage of the ability of social media, and especially Instagram, to appeal to the emotions of a large group of followers. These companies’ social media accounts are undeniably cool, quirky, interesting, and stylish, suggesting to their many followers that their brands not only possess all of these characteristics but that, in fact, the brands might be able to confer these traits in part upon those who use them.
Sarah Kauss, a Harvard grad and founder of S’well water bottles, has cleverly created a water bottle brand that has both a fashionable appearance, initially speaking to the emotions of the consumer, and functionality that then captures his or her loyalty. For many water bottle companies, functionality is their branding strategy. For other companies, style is the chosen focus of their brand. However, S’well has created a distinct brand centered around the concept of fashionable functionality, using the stylish elements of the bottle to appeal emotionally to the consumer, while also supporting the style with usefulness.
S’well’s Instagram is full of fashionable people, their outfits, and sometimes even their nails, coordinated to their water bottles. Thus, the brand has been able to gain reputability as a fashion item, a reputation which has helped them gain partnerships with even larger fashion influencers like J. Crew, Nordstrom, and Vogue. Now, with 34,800 Instagram followers, revenues exceeding 10 million in recent years, and celebrities toting them everywhere, I think it’s fair to say that S’well bottles have become the most stylish sip for sale.
Packed Party, with 37,700 Instagram followers, also began from one woman armed with an idea and an ability to cater to the emotional desires and impulses of consumers. Jordan Jones, the founder of this quirky, fun, and utterly Instagrammable brand says that the company’s entire brand strategy revolves around her hope that “each time you send or receive one of our navy packages you smile…knowing someone else cares about you or you care enough about yourself to know you need to start the party.”
This statement of purpose is centrally focused on the emotional effect her brand has on consumers. Through social media marketing, Jordan Jones has shown herself, her employees, and the people who celebrate with a Packed Party to be confident, kind, and just downright fun. She has branded her company as people who I would trust implicitly to plan a party for me, and from Packed Party’s large Instagram and blog following, it’s evident that many others feel the same way. Jordan has demonstrated a unique ability to further the success of her brand by making sure her customers not only trust Packed Party, but also have a girl crush on the women responsible for creating those little navy boxes.
Unless you’re a robot, chances are you feel emotions; so, while both of these companies are selling products that are certainly not a practical necessity to anyone, they have been successful because they have branded their products as emotional necessities. Packed Party looks like the most fun, cool product, so I need it. S’well looks like the most fashionable, coveted water bottle, so I need it. Emotions blur the lines between need and want, and each of these branding campaigns has successfully moved S’well and Packed Party into that blurry, grey area.
Addison Whitney is a global branding firm with a passion for building strong brands.