Emotional images are at the core of a visual brand

One of the most persistent perceptions is that only images, graphics, logos, and fonts make the visual content of a brand. It is forgotten that the visuality of the brand extends deeper than these visible features on the surface. The visuality of the brand lies above all in the customer’s mind, in the emotional images to which the company and its products relate.

Emotional Images Are at the Core of a Visual BrandThe key concept is emotional images. They are tools of the human mind combining emotions, thinking, and imagination. Emotional images are, as the word suggests, thoroughly visual.

So even spoken or written words turn visual. The phrase “Let’s meet at Stockmann Meeting Point” is not just words, but images that evoke in a person’s mind about an encounter in a certain place. A lot of positive meanings and feelings are summed up in the expression. Emotional images are an integral part of any company’s brand equity. Actually, they are the core.

There are two ways to access emotional images. With the often used market and customer research methods it is possible to examine the preferences of (potential) customers and the expectations related to the company and products. However, they make it difficult to reach the core of a brand’s emotional image which is often a crucial factor in the brand’s success.

Analyzing a visual brand requires knowledge of how people form common meanings and feelings in culture and society. Visual brand analysis is the perception and verbalization of these meanings.

Nokia visual brand as an example

Nokia brand is an excellent example of how visual emotions are based on the core meanings shared by people.

“Connecting People” was not created on the basis of the information provided by the market research. The slogan was born as a result of a competition organized by the company for its staff. In this way, the brand formed a close connection with exactly what the entire staff of the company felt they were doing. They built technology that allowed people to be better connected to each other. The idea of ​​connecting with people is a very strong emotional image that easily became the mission of the entire Nokia staff.

Above all, the slogan hit the heart of customers’ emotional images. It is difficult to come up with other thing as strong in human life and evoking visual emotions as connecting, being together, meeting and interacting. The need to be together is rooted in every person’s genes and that is exactly the spot where the Nokia brand hit. Probably everyone who got their first mobile phone experienced emotional images of where to call their loved ones. Nokia campaigns included a variety of images and visual solutions. But just two words were enough to communicate the company’s actual visual brand.

Strong mission for the entire staff

The Nokia brand was able to evoke emotional images that spearheaded the product marketing. And at the same time built a strong mission for the entire staff. The substance of the company operations and marketing met. And reinforced each other at the core of the brand with excellent effectiveness.

Nokia’s current presence shows that even the strongest brand cannot withstand failure to develop the actual product. Inheriting this, the key brand challenge for the new Nokia is how to catch up with new kinds of emotional images.

Professor Janne Seppänen is one of Finland’s leading researchers in visual culture and media society. He trains journalists at the University of Tampere and writes the popular Mediayhteiskunta blog. In addition to his main job, he consults companies and public administration organizations on issues related to brand building. Seppänen is currently building a visual brand analysis tool based on, among other things, his own research.

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