Emotional Identity

I recently shared a really interesting article that was talking about the concept of emotional identity and how that can relate to inanimate objects and business brands. They call it anthropomorphism, which relates to the attributing of human traits.

We see it all the time with some of the biggest brands on the planet – Apple, Coke-a-cola and Nike to name a few. They inspire consumers to feel excitement, craving, envy and satisfaction – all because of a technological device, a drink or a shoe. On a more local level in Brisbane, anthropomorphism is beautifully represented in the Ovolo Inchcolm Hotel where I hold my regular Movers, Shakers and Change Agent events. When you walk in the front door, there is a feast for the senses.

Visually the rooms are filled with quirky artistic wall art, decoration and furniture that I adore! They even make a point of playing certain music playlists to set the tone. The staff are very professional, and equally welcoming with fun personalities. The whole vibe is quirky! My kind of place!

The concept of attributing human traits to something other than a human is also very relevant to “Future You” Personal Branding. While it’s important to show the different layers of you personally as a human, it’s equally important to consider how human traits can be attributed to your intellectual property and thought leadership, the keynote speaking concept that you want to become known for, the book that you have written or the props you use to communicate your client’s journey. It even relates to the ‘movement’ you are trying to create with your tribe to spark change in business, organisations or society at large. Emotion inspires and connects. So you need to consider this when developing your visual personal brand. Imagine how you can attribute human traits to your keynote topic, to your physical book, to a piece of IP or a model you have created, or the broader movement you are wanting to ignite.

Future You Personal Branding

It’s kind of like the Elf on the Shelf who appears as we near Christmas each year.  It is an inanimate object. A toy. But if you want any proof at all about the power of Emotional Identity and branding, then take a look at the adventures that Elf on the Shelf gets up to in people’s homes and workplaces! The narratives that are played out with scenarios that we can all relate too! Emotion and narrative are all related to the story of your brand, your IP, your book, your keynote topic and the change you want to make in the world. If you doubt yourself ever, then just go to Elf on the Shelf for inspiration on the impact that it can have on families, children and Christmas memories!

When we look at the research into emotion, previous psychological studies have identified six core human emotional states, including happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger. We see these emotions play out regularly in the entire fabric of society – on movie screens, billboards, and even through advertisements for things like food and toiletries.  Emotion helps us connect to ourselves and to others.  Interestingly the list of these emotions has broadened, with a 2017 study by Cowen and Keltner finding that there are actually 27 categories of emotions that each are experienced on a gradient scale as opposed to black and white.

If you are intrigued by the videos they used to elicit the range of responses in their research subjects, then take a look at this interesting map they released. Please note that some videos featured are intense, so viewer discretion is advised.

27 emotions in your branding

So the question now is, how can you bring these 27 different emotions into your visual personal branding and marketing? The other question is, which of these 27 emotions are applicable to your unique brand?

What if your book and all of it’s marketing, express “interest” as an emotion? How could you change your copy on web pages or emails to express this “interest” emotion even more? Maybe it’s a gift that you give with the book that entices “interest” also?

What if your keynote speaking theme and all of your marketing visuals have an expression of “triumph” as an emotion? Perhaps you talk about iconic changemakers throughout your speech who have triumphed over massive adversity?

Your call to action landing page could express “adoration” and “awe”, while also offering excerpts from awe-inspiring poetry that will inspire your tribe?

Or a core piece of your IP that explains a key model in your message, expresses “interest” and “entrancement”, by literally illustrating the journey you want to take your clients on? Then providing them with a tangible symbolic item to take away with them, that reminds them of the IP?

Gone are the days of the one size fits all smiling (or not) headshot that is used throughout all of our branding, business cards, website, social media, and brochures. By injecting more strategic and authentic emotional identity into your personal brand, you end up connecting on a much deeper level with your tribe, and ultimately creating the movement you were born to lead!

I can’t think of a more powerful and enduring example of emotional identity, and the power it has in connecting an iconic brand with generations of loyal fans – than that of Jim Henson and The Muppets!!

Hands up those who grew up watching The Muppet Show!

Hand puppets singing, dancing, and interacting with human guests.

If ‘they’ can do it, so can you!

A new way of expressing your brand in the next 18 months

I DARE you to become the producer, the conductor, the screenwriter, AND the actor/actress, of your own Expressive Brand. Where to start with injecting a stronger Emotional Identity into your personal brand:

  • Think about the journey of your clients and the experience of being your client – from their perspective.
  • Explore what your personal and business archetype is, what symbols represent the impact you are wanting to make, and how to strategically ignite your business for the next 18 months.
  • The brand of YOU and the brand of your practice/business could be quite different or could be in total alignment. Perhaps you are an introvert, but to communicate your message strongly enough within your practice, you might need to express more extraversion in your visual brand in order to rally your tribe to action!
  • Experiment, get messy, no perfection allowed. Emotion and expression is not exact. Be prepared to fail, or for things to fall flat. Learn, move on and try again.
  • Think about the BIG message you want to express and inspire a group of loyal fans to also connect with. What emotion is attached to that BIG message? You will find that there is one primary emotion and several secondary emotions that relate to the message.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how Emotional Identity relates to your work. 
Add your comments below!

I DARE you to be more expressive than an Elf on a Shelf!

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