High-impact ’emotional’ drivers

What are high-impact emotional drivers?

We are all driven by our emotions. In fact we can’t make any decision without them. Emotions are what tip our thoughts into actions.

High-impact emotional drivers are those emotions that have the greatest influence on our behaviors. They are often hidden in our subconscious and linked to our belief systems, so we don’t even know they exist.

High-impact emotional drivers inculde:

  • Stand out from the crowd – Project a unique social identity; be seen as special
  • Have confidence In the future – Perceive the future as better than the past; have a positive mental picture of what’s to come
  • Enjoy a sense of well-being – Feel that life measures up to expectations and that balance has been achieved; seek a stress-free state without conflicts or threats
  • Feel a sense of freedom – Act independently, without obligations or restrictions
  • Feel a sense of thrill – Experience visceral, overwhelming pleasure and excitement; participate in exciting, fun events
  • Feel a sense of belonging – Have an affiliation with people they relate to or aspire to be like; feel part of a group
  • Protect the environment – Sustain the belief that the environment is sacred; take action to improve their surroundings
  • Be the person I want to be – Fulfill a desire for ongoing self-improvement; live up to their ideal self-image
  • Feel secure – Believe that what they have today will be there tomorrow; pursue goals and dreams without worry
  • Succeed in life – Feel that they lead meaningful lives; find worth that goes beyond financial or socioeconomic measures

Emotions in branding and marketing

The word emotion comes from the latin to ‘move out’ – e’motion.

Originally emotions were thought of as demons that possessed people and influenced their behaviour. Today we recognise emotions as changes in our chemical balance. Changes that are designed to help protect us, to seek out food, mate and to explore the world. The world of branding has always understood the role emotions play in decision making. What’s new is our understanding of the science behind these emotions, what triggers them and which have the greatest impact on our behaviours.

“Rather than telling a functional story, we wanted to bring our story to life in a powerful, engaging and emotive way. We wanted to be bold and ambitious,”

Kerris Bright, CMO at Virgin Media told Marketing Week

“People make decisions emotionally not rationally… we need to connect with people emotionally through advertising and not through reason.”

KFC’s CMO David Timm 2015


For greater return on their communication and marketing investment, organisations need to tap into these emotional drivers and bring them to life creatively. There are many types of emotional drivers in our life and many models that try and capture them. The specific sector, market and strategic goals of an organisation will influence which emotional drivers are appropriate. We help organisations navigate these emotions and find which ones work best for their brand, market and message.

Which emotion will drive the greatest response amongst your audience?

Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions is a useful model but not the only one.