I am a grown man. Yet sometimes I still cry.
Not that I’m jilted or bereaved. Just overwhelmed. By friendship. Success. Relief. A re-found companion. Colour. A delicious chord of minor thirds and flat sevenths. A gesture, scene, present, grin, flash of news. An I Love You. A win.
And relieved, too. That my catalogue of emotions is still there, on the table, open at any page and ready-to-read.
That joy, delight, trust, tenderness, anticipation, expectancy, surprise, disgust, fear, fury, anguish, lust, anxiety, vigilance, panic, passion, disappointment, unbridled cheer, intimacy, aggression, indifference, are there for the asking.
A veritable buffet. Help yourselves.
File away my feelings, and I’d let down everyone I write for. I wouldn’t expect to get paid.
After all, super-brands have emotional states as deep as our own. Ones that comprehend, challenge, reinforce, comfort and empathise with those of their followers.
Yet others wallow in a vacuum. Emotionless as puffballs. As neutral as a craniotomy or the lift music in a Holiday Inn.
Lesser brands love vacuums. Cotton-wool safe-states that don’t scare off what’s left of market shares. Aware that their targets really do laugh, rejoice, grieve, stare in awe, fantasise, worship, fall in love, fret, worry and sympathise as well as staring like guppies at Twitter feeds. But too terrified to go there.
Pity. Touch a target’s emotions with one of yours, and you’re theirs. Like wooing the girl of your dreams. Gorgeous.
So, when working with an emotional brand, love it like your sister. De-clutter, find the mood. From here on, it’s a personal thing.
Here’s one. I once wrote some labels for a tiny tea-producer. The big thought (even micro-brands must have one) was Tea and Philosophy. To her, the two went hand-in-hand. They do.
Peace Tea was my brief. A cup, a sit-down and a minute of respite from the ringtones, brats, car horns, naggers, presidential blunders, pop-ups and pests of the everyday.
But to evoke peace, I first had to find it myself. That month I was fielding briefs, churning 200 headlines a day and fending off insanity with industrial Bordeaux at one AM.
I faked a sick day and ambled the park. Willows belly-danced to the band of the birds. Statues looked at me open-eyed, saying nothing. An oak leaf kissed me on the nose. No phone, no prams. But there I was. At five PM I had a lemon sorbet, large cone, headed home and wrote.
A day in peace, and the tea and I could say the same thing. Peace.
Ok, a quick note for brands. Just own an emotion. It needn’t be off-the-shelf cheery-positivity. There’s everything from vigilance to rebellious anger. Consumers can cry and love you.
And one for copywriters. Own that emotion, too. If your brands don’t own one, suggest one. There are millions in you. Why be a puffball rather than who you are? A human being.