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A brand is generally designed to inform and appeal to consumers about a company, along with its products or services. And when talking about appeal, companies get to choose between emotional and rational branding techniques. Many prefer using both techniques in gaining more customer support, which can translate to brand recall and eventually more sales. While emotional or rational appeals are often used together, it is still necessary to identify the difference between the two.

Difference between emotional and rational branding

In a nutshell, emotional branding techniques appeal to the emotions of the consumers. On the other hand, rational branding strategies emphasize the benefits of a product or service to compel consumers to try it. For example, one of the most widely used emotional approaches in branding is the testimony of a previous customer who has tried the product or service. Meanwhile, the rational approach often shows how the product is being used instead of relying on the experience of those who have tried it.

Product placement Appeal

While both emotional and rational branding aims to present products or services to target consumers, they vary when it comes to product placement. For those who use emotional appeal, they tend to show customers interacting with helpful employees. As for rational branding, the product is always the focus of any advertisement.

Interestingly, there is also a difference when it comes to the visual elements to be used. For emotional appeal techniques, the colors used are soft and warms. While for those who use rational appeal, bolder and brighter colors are more popular.

Tangible examples of emotional and rational branding

To see the differences between emotional and rational branding, it is best to give examples illustrating the two.

Continental Airlines once had a rational attempt to promote its service. In a direct to the point slogan: “More airline for the money,” the company tries to entice more people to try their service. They have gained support for this simple idea. Eventually, an agency changed it to “Word hard. Fly right”, telling their customers that you work hard and you deserve to fly the right way. Apparently, they shifted from rational to emotional strategies.

Another example is the case of Lowe’s. It had the slogan: “Improving home improvement”. Eventually, they changed it to “Let’s build something together”. Again, this is a case of shifting from rational to emotional appeal.

Many companies also change their approach depending on what they think will be effective for their target consumers. There is no wrong in mixing the two approaches though.

Getting the right mix or emotional and rational

Given the stiff competition in the market these days, companies find it harder to stand out to sell their products or services. However, getting the right mix of emotional and rational appeal to the consumers can help increase sales—if not now, at least in the near future as you try to sustain the marketing campaign.

Things are also easier if you have to market some premium brands. There is no shortage of “reasons to buy” for such brands. Getting the right combination of approaches, however, remains important. Getting it wrong might just waste your resources since the target consumers will not notice the product or service at all.

For instance, in selling cars we know that there are many options that can actually deliver the rational benefits of their products. This may be about engine size, fuel efficiency, price range, amenihorsepowerse power. Since many companies offer the same benefits, perhaps combining emotional appeal is necessary. For instance, discuss the look, how riders can feel safe, etc. Pick the emotional benefits that can surely touch the target consumers. While rational benefits are important in selling products like cars, emotional benefits have roles to play, too. This is also the reason why it is important to know your target consumers first before rolling out any kind of promotional campaign. Certainly, you have to know their emotional state to compel them to try the product or service you want to offer.

Branding and advertising campaigns require a long process of planning before the actual execution. And along the process, company owners should work closely with advertising agencies on how to roll it out. They can choose between emotional or rational approaches—or they can opt to combine the two.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.