Maslow’s Hierarchy Sheds Light on Branding Emotions

Remember Maslow from psychology  or business class?  He first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book, Motivation and Personality. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs.

Maslows Hierarchy and Brand EmotionsMaslow’s pyramid is a branding tool because of the emotional needs it fulfills for individuals.  The top three layers of Maslow’s pyramid go beyond basic needs into the desire to feel something, be someone or get somewhere.  These are emotional desires.   Branding messages can tie in highly motivating emotions to a product or service when linked to one of these higher desires.

Consider the need to connect with others. Humans have an innate need to be part of something, to have ongoing dialogue and communication.  Does your product fulfill this need to belong?  Or feel loved?  Or enrich relationships?  Or feel accepted?

What about esteem needs?  People want to feel important, have respect,  feel special?   Can you bring this out in your product or service?

Lastly, how can your product or service help people to self-actualize and develop themselves?  Does it help them make a difference in others?  The world?  Leave a legacy?  How can you express this in an emotional way?

Say your services are diabetes management classes.  You can bring in Maslow’s emotional desires by communicating past participants are confident in managing their diabetes in real life situations and are prepared for any and all situations.   Here the emotional need is confidence.

Another example might be you are a nonprofit program consultant.  You could communicate that by using your services their nonprofit organization can impact many more lives through increased donations and cost savings in more efficient program management.  This one taps into the self-actualization emotion.

Talk to your customers and clients and try out several messages that communicate different emotional desires and take note of those that elicit the strongest positive reaction.  Share below any example messages with emotion you come up with.


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