Emotional vs functional messaging – I am really confused about this whole issue. We are launching a new product and I know that the correct thing is to build emotional connects with consumer. Even Coke talks about opening happiness. But how can we do this while explaining the functionality of the new product? Our agency says it is more important to own a bigger emotional vs functional messaging platform when we launch. What is your opinion?

Answered by Meeta Malhotra

Emotional vs functional messaging is the most misunderstood area in branding, Anahita so no wonder that you are confused. Somewhere along the way, ‘building emotional connect’ has come to mean soppy, generic messaging, usually involving words like ‘happiness’ and ‘life’. Coke’s ‘open happiness’ is probably amongst the worst culprits.

Building emotional connect means that your audience has a relationship with your brand that is deeper than a mere transaction so among other things, they will not switch easily.

This connect can be established in many ways. Finding a higher order emotional platform is great, as long as it is sharp and compelling and you can own it. A great example of this is Byjus, the learning app that chose to take the platform of making children love learning, instead of a more functional ‘ace your test’ kind of approach.

However, lots of products and markets do not lend themselves to this. In which case it is much better to establish emotional connect through solid functionality. This is especially true when you are launching a new product. Coke can say what they like because everyone in the world knows they are a fizzy drink. Your primary objective is to make sure that your audience understands what you are offering. Building emotional connect is often a journey. It is hard to fathom now, but Apple’s brand equity was initially built by the unique functionality of its products.

PS: A recent campaign that made me laugh was IDFC Bank, which spoofed the over-used relationship-building message that most banks hide behind. I think they’ve nailed the issue you are talking about.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBXCHW_ZqpY


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