Building a Brand Based on Emotions: Security

Building a brand based on emotions is a powerful way to motivate people to purchase your products and services, and selling a feeling of security as an emotional benefit of making those purchases is a great way to do it. In fact, the emotion of security is so effective in selling products and services that many companies launch product tie-ins with the phrase “peace-of-mind” in the product name. Have you ever purchased a car or electronic device and been offered a peace-of-mind guarantee or a peace-of-mind protection plan? Selling a sense of security can add even more revenue to a company’s bottom-line.


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building a brand based on emotionHowever, selling security can backfire if the company behind the brand claim can’t consistently offer the peace-of-mind consumers expect. Tread carefully in the world of selling security because it’s an emotion that people take very seriously. Of course, the concept of security can come in many forms, and that’s where clever marketers can balance the emotion with appropriate and effective messaging.

Security can extend beyond traditional service and performance guarantees. Think about how Verizon Wireless successfully tapped into the emotion of security with its 3G coverage campaign that directly pitted Verizon Wireless against AT&T using the map shown below.

verizon wireless vs att wireless coverage maps

By showing how much better Verizon Wireless’ 3G coverage was, consumers could have peace-of-mind that they’d get service when and where they needed it and important calls wouldn’t get dropped. For business people who can’t lose critical calls or road travelers who fear they might have car troubles and get stranded on the road with no way to call for help, the emotional benefit of security that Verizon Wireless offered thanks to its wide 3G coverage motivated many consumers to choose the company over its primary competitor.

Using Market Research to Trigger Emotions of Security

How can you tie your brand’s features and benefits to an emotion that is important to your target audience? Market research can help you figure out the answer to this question. Survey current and prospective customers using a consumer panel study and ask open-ended questions about how your brand, products, and services make consumers feel.

From these results, you can determine if consumers already attribute your brand to feelings of security or not. If security is already correlated to your brand in consumers’ minds, then you can leverage that existing connection in your marketing messages and brand experiences.

You should also be looking for new opportunities to introduce messages related to security into your marketing campaigns. Ask consumers what they want and need from your brand, products, and services and identify new messages, brand extensions, new distribution points, and so on that can create a greater sense of security. Those automotive peace-of-mind guarantees mentioned above didn’t pop out of nowhere. Instead, auto companies recognized that consumers were worried about expenses they might incur after purchasing their cars and peace-of-mind guarantees addressed the feeling of security as well as becoming a new revenue source. Can you do something similar with your brand?

Next, ask consumers to rank statements related to the features and benefits your brand offers through its products and services. Verizon Wireless may have asked consumers to rank features that are most important to them such as low fees, great coverage, new device availability, bill consistency, message reliability, and so on.

These statements should be reworded for cross-analysis, too. Rephrasing features and benefits as emotional statements can draw out very different results. Ask consumers to rate a variety of emotion-filled statements about your brand, products, services, and competitors. Focus on the emotion of security for this research study by providing statements for survey respondents to rank.

The statements you provide will depend on the products and services you offer and how you can tie their features and benefits to the emotion of security. For example, Verizon Wireless might have asked consumers to rank statements like:

  • I worry that fees will increase.
  • I worry that I’ll have an emergency and can’t use my phone.
  • I worry that the coolest new phone will only be available through different providers.
  • I worry that my family won’t be able to reach me when they need to.
  • I worry that my bill will be too high.
  • I worry that my bill will fluctuate too much from one month to the next.
  • I worry that I won’t be able to speak with my business clients or customers won’t be able to reach me.
  • I worry that I won’t be able to access my messages.

Most importantly, the emotion of security doesn’t apply only to physical safety. Security could be strictly emotional in nature. It could apply to the individual or the individual’s family, friends, and so on. These are all the types of information your research should identify, so you can effectively trigger the right emotions related to security in your brand marketing.


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Images: Abdulaziz Almansour, Verizon Wireless

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.