The main thing that separates us humans from the rest of the animal world is our ability to emote. Be it sadness, joy, frustration or love, emotions are what drive our thoughts, actions and words. They are also what drive our purchasing decisions.
Marketing guru Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, contends that people don’t buy what an organization or product does; they buy why it’s done. This makes perfect sense given that we use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features and facts) when evaluating brands.
Successful companies like Apple, Google and Dove understand this concept, which is why they incorporate thoughtful and emotional storytelling into their marketing campaigns. They understand that information leads to analysis, but emotion leads to action. Two marketing campaigns created by Austin & Williams exemplify this effect.
The Family Center for Autism (FCA) is an innovative facility that offers programs and services to individuals with autism and their families, and its leaders wanted to drive membership and donations. While our creative could have featured the building and the many activity rooms, it instead focuses on the very personal stories of the FCA families. The campaign’s thematic foundation centers on “Then One Day”—a phrase used by many families to describe both their autism journey and the day they found FCA—for heart-tugging stories that capture the essence of hope for these families. The campaign also captures the “spirit of giving” for individuals who may wish to donate to FCA’s mission. The hashtag #thenOneDay continues the conversation on social media outlets.
Another example is the ad campaign we created for MCNY. Tied into the theme of “What’s Your Purpose?” the campaign focuses on the compelling stories of MCNY alumni and the difference their education has made to their lives and to the communities they serve. Going against the typical higher education advertising showing various campus views peppered with students, MCNY’s outcomes-driven storytelling approach offers a more personalized approach of engaging prospective students who are looking for their purpose in life.
In short, when it comes down to what to buy, how much to give and who to support, emotions trump reason and feelings trump logic every time—a critical tenet every advertiser should keep in mind (and heart) when developing campaigns.