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The most powerful emotion in marketing may surprise you

Maya Angelou quoted, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Marketers are obsessed with making people feel something, and rightly so — because the way we feel often dictates how we think.

We’ve evolved this way. Our brains are loosely split into 3 parts:

The primitive brain— the part of the brain that produces my ‘fight or flight’ responses — it’s the part that really wants to keep me alive.

The limbic system— the part of the brain that produces emotion — the part that makes me love and hate and everything in between.

And finally the most evolved part of our brains …

The neocortex— this part of the brain that process intellectual tasks — it acts like the CEO of minds and is often referred to as the rational part.

Because we have a rational part to our brain, one would think we should make rational decisions and rational purchases, but despite having the capacity to think rationally, we often don’t. In reality, we all have said or done things we regret, and we all can relate to reacting before responding. This is due to how we’ve evolved — in simple terms, the emotional part of brain processes information 5 times more quickly than the rational part, which is why tapping into people’s emotions is so powerful.

Read more: 11 habits of ridiculously likable people that you can teach yourself

Robert Plutchik, a leading pioneer in the psychology of emotion, has created a hierarchy of everything a human being can feel. One of the most powerful emotions anyone can feel is fear. Marketers have used fear for generations — “closing down” sales, limited-time offers, “fear of missing out” — are used time and time again by brands.

If I go on Booking.com— I’m told there’s a discount, and then a little banner pops up and tells me there are only 2 rooms remaining, and then I’m told that 35 other people are looking at this room. All of this information taps into a feeling, a feeling of fear, a fear of missing out — which in many cases results in my booking something. Although it’s clear that fear is a very powerful emotion, it’s not a sensible emotion for brands to focus their long-term marketing efforts around.

Brands should focus on the feelings that are equally as powerful, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, the feelings that are centered around the emotion we all should be working towards … happiness.

Coca-Cola is known for putting the feeling of happiness front and center of all its communications.
Sergi Alexander/Getty

Some of greatest brands in history have focused on happiness. Coca-Cola is arguably the most iconic — the brand is famous for putting the feeling of happiness front and center of all its communications. A recent study actually found that content that has a positive emotional narrative was shared more often than content with a negative one.

Happiness is a good starting place for brands. Marketers who put happiness at the forefront of their decision-making will win the hearts and minds of this generation.

Oliver Yonchev is managing director of one of the world’s largest global social media agencies, Social Chain ( socialchain.com). The agency owns Cast Chain ( castchain.co), a new service for the creation, production and distribution of branded podcasts that rival celebrities and publishers; and Like-Wise ( like-wise.co), the industry-first, AI-driven influencer fraud detection tool. As the US Managing Director, Oliver is responsible for the development of the group’s North American operation, spearheading the company’s plans to open three offices in addition to its NYC office, across Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. He also oversees global social media strategies for clients such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, Nokia, DreamWorks, FIFA, Superdry, and Disney.

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About Jason Doughty

Jason M. Doughty writes for Investing and Strategy sections in AmericaRichest.

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