How it works with Emotional Branding: Ben & Jerry’s – Fun, Love, and Creativity!

Source: Hiebing 2015

Emotional connections build strong brands

There are lots of ways that a brand can approach customers. An interesting brand story, a strange brand name that provokes customers’ curiosity or simply a funny brand logo that impresses a teenager at first sight, etc. could be examples for the different approaches. All let me think of the human emotion that a brand aims at. Or I could say that it somehow is called emotional branding.

The term Emotional branding, first defined by Marc Gobe in the book named: Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People. There also found many sources that refer to this term. To me, emotional branding is a way a product creates a particular feeling inside or toward the customers. Joseph Neusy, a Digital Marketing Strategist, has said that: “Emotional branding is the practice of creating a love affair between consumers and a product”  

An emotion is something that is irrational, non-cognitive and inexplicable. For different brands, consumers surely have different feelings that come very naturally indeed. What makes a brand stand out in a crowd is such the positive feelings it brings to customers and if it is strong enough for the next purchase. In the market that more and more similar brands are introduced, consumers are purchasing more with irrational decisions than rational ones (factors influence customers ‘purchase are 80% emotional and 20% intellectual). So the role of a smart marketer is to catch customers’ needs, to reach their heart before reading their minds.

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has proved quite well the approach of using human emotion in brand building. First of all, such brand has an emotional story, which is about the long-term relationship of the two childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. They started in 1978 which the ice-cream business at an abandoned gas station in Nothern Vermont. The idea is just simply that something that creates mouth-feeling – so big chunks added in the ice-cream (Chunky Monky). The image of the two founders of Ben & Jerry basically recalls an image of ones that have a dream and are always trying to achieve it. Like other businessmen, they have to grow their business, to struggle for it and to success after great efforts.

Source: Ben & Jerry video

Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield – Co-founders of Ben& Jerry’s

Furthermore, I bet most of you have tried Ben and Jerry at least once. I do not know which feeling you guys have about their ice-cream. I just simple felt so great and a bit curious of what I am going to bite when having a box of new Ben & Jerry’s products. It is because the product name sometimes does not tell so much about what it has inside. Well, I would say fun names (e.g. Chubby Hubby) and surprise chunks are Ben & Jerry’s.

Ben & Jerry's ice-cream: Chubby Hubby

Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream: Chubby Hubby

Another aspect to share is about their packaging design. It is quoted that “a brand package is designed to satisfy consumers; functional and emotional needs” (Laforet 2010). With the use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Paperboard Containers, it proves the care of Corporate Social Responsibility. Once again, an emotional connection through the use of environmentally friendly ingredient is created.  It is clearly that Ben and Jerry has created the bonding connection between the products and customers through many ways. People who come to Ben & Jerry’s trucks enjoy fun, creativity and love.

So how about you? Does any brand come to your mind with a strong emotion? And do you think that it is really a very smart and effective way to influence customer’s purchasing decision in a very saturated market today?

To comment is to share! Thanks.


Laforet, S. (2010). Managing Brands: a Contemporary Perspective. McGraw-Hill Education, Berkshire, UK

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6 Responses to How it works with Emotional Branding: Ben & Jerry’s – Fun, Love, and Creativity!

  1. saskiaschlegel says:

    I really liked your post on emotional branding. You explained the concept very well.

    I think Coca Cola is another good example of a brand that uses emotional branding to build a strong connection to their customers. That’s for example clearly shown in this Coca Cola advertisement:

    Kevin McLeod, founder and CEO of Yardstick Services, stated the following about the ad:

    “The Coke video is full of wonderful clips of people doing things that make us all feel good. I’m not going to lie, it got my attention and is very memorable. At the same time, I’m intelligent enough to see what Coke is doing. With the exception of the last clip, none of the “good things” in the video are related to Coca-Cola.

    The ad primes us by making us feel good and then drops the brand at the end so that we connect those emotions to the Coke brand. It’s very shrewd. Part of me thinks it’s brilliant. The other part of me thinks it’s overly manipulative and beguiles a product that can’t stand on its own merits, of which caramel-colored, carbonated sugar water has few.”

    So on the one hand it’s very effective to do emotional branding, on the other hand, like McLeod says, it’s kind of manipulative. But I guess we all know, that’s how marketing often works, isn’t it?

  2. [G.] says:

    @saskiaschlegel: Thanks for your informative comments! yes sure, not only marketing, but all things/events in this world are like double-edged swords. They have both positive and negative sides. Like the video you posted above, even all the scenes do not have any connection with the product itself, they do make us all smile during watching it and later think of Coke when suddenly catching those scenes again somewhere. Well, it is manipulated somehow; however, the final purpose of marketing is to satisfy, to cheer our customers when using the products.
    Clearly, Coke makes their customers happy and even much happier when seeing their clip, is that what branding/marketing aims at?

  3. henaheii says:

    Hey good post! I also think that branded products are much about customer emotions rather than radical decisions. Ben & Jerry’s is a good example, since their customers have passion towards their ice creams. They seem to enjoy the brand as much as the ice cream itself. Personally I thought it was good tasting, but unhealthy and expensive. I my case I couldn’t fall in love with Ben & Jerry’s. However it’s a brand that left me with emotions. If I eat Valio’s regular ice cream, I will forget the whole thing later on and I will not mention it to anyone.

    I like to idea behind the post, but you could improve as a writer, if you focus on the fluency of the text. For example you wrote: “The idea is just simply that something that creates mouth-feeling”. Try not use word that multiple times in one sentence. “Simply the idea is to create something mouth-feeling”, would be more fluent. I hope you agree 🙂 Also there was some other flaws like “I do not know which feeling you guys have about their ice-cream”. “I don’t know how do you guys feel about the ice cream if you’ve tried it”, I think this example would be more fluent.

    Yet again I liked how you picked the right brand to this and it’s a interesting topic. Keep working on the writing skills to make your future blogs more fluent and even better!

  4. [G.] says:

    Hei @henaheii, thanks your constructive comment. I need improving my skill a lot. It would have been better if I had spent more time for this blog, especially editing. I came up with the idea and just wrote it as thought.A good blog needs practicing ;)! I agree

  5. kallemuuramo says:

    This subject was extremely interesting and I have been wondering how Ben & Jerry has been able to create such a great ice cream why do many people love it so much. It is exactly as you say, emotional branding. I tasted one of the ice creams before and it was really good. The next time I wanted to try Ben & Jerry’s I didn’t know which one to take due to the names but I was certain all of the choices are tasty. Emotional branding had succeeded in giving me an emotion which makes me buy their product.

  6. First of all I would like to thank you for this quite interesting article. I’ve never thought about “emotional branding” before like a pretty useful marketing tool, and you caught my curiosity because of your choice with Ben&Jerry’s. To respond to your question, at the first sight the first company who’s coming into my mind with a strong emotion, I think it will be “Barilla”, I always buy this brand when I want pasta, and it makes me feel like at home with all my family after a long day of school when I was still living at my parent’s house, sharing a big plate of pasta with my brothers. I think you are right, it is important to take care about these little things, that customers feel about a specific brand and I don’t know if all the companies think about it. Most of them want to make profit but not always think about the pleasure you can retire when customers bought their products. I am really sensitive to the product’s packaging, sometimes I can buy something only for the packaging because I like it, because, I want to use it in the future for an other reason, because of the colors… At least because of what it makes me feel. I think people are totally different face to this “emotional branding”, few are sensitive to and others not at all. Depends of the persons and maybe depends of the situation, what do you think ?

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