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A recent Twitter post brought up this idea, that branding is the management of emotions through various touchpoints. Seemed like a reasonable assertion to me, I too believe that brands manage emotions. But there was another post made, about that post, that disagreed completely. We will refer to this disagreer as “The Individual.”

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emotion argument

The individual that disagreed claimed that we no more manage emotions than a chef manages experiences. According to this individual, the chef cooks food, not experiences. While I understand what he meant, two words came to mind when I read that. Hibachi Volcano. Anyone that’s been to one of those fancy Teppanyaki style restaurant knows what I am talking about. The chef IS the experience. Not only does he do really fun tricks, he’s usually funny and quite entertaining.

The idea that we cannot manage or influence emotions is quite concerning to me from a branding perspective as well as a personal one. Everyday I wake up, I do things that manage my emotions. I brush my teeth, I drink coffee, I ignore that phone call about my car’s warranty. So clearly I can manage my own emotions. But can I manage others’?


Well have you? Have you ever told a joke? Have you even given someone a hug? Sent a greeting card? Of course we can manage other peoples emotions. We do it all the time. When your wife says do I look fat… You are given an opportunity to manage someone’s emotions. Do so wisely. Now I will admit, you cannot control someone else’s emotions. But you absolutely can manage them, or influence even. You ever heard the expression “walk on eggshells” that is emotion management.


Brands manage emotions in the same way you manage yours or the ones you care about. First we determine what the consumer wants or needs. That is really the tricky part. Then we give it to them in the form of products, imagery and other tangible mediums. We use geometry, colors, sounds, language, textures and much more, to create a pleasing experience. We aim to make the consumer feel loved, beautiful, safe, or happy… Or we present the brand in a way that it promises to deliver those emotions. It’s not controlled, and it’s not perfect, but it is managed. Management is not control. Even in a busy office building chaos exists under even the best management. But it is organized chaos.


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Whether you are in a grocery store, a department store, a movie theatre or a theme park. Your emotions are being targeted and influenced. When you are in an expensive restaurant known for its romantic setting. Or on the edge of your seat as the suspenseful music plays during your favorite thriller. Your emotions are being managed.


When I read the argument I understood what the individual meant, but its really a vague point of view that requires deeper thought. As a brand manager or marketer, we manage the items you can see, touch and hear. That is the direct truth. But upon deeper consideration, we use emotions and behaviors as a guide to produce these things. The individual said himself “We can tap into existing emotions.”. Perhaps indirectly, but that my friend, is a form of emotion management. So in summary I will say this. Brands manage emotions the way sound designers manage a scene, the way a Hibachi chef manages an experience, and the way I manage my car warrantee guy.

The individual claimed brands are not people. I think that’s is a bad way to look at it. Brands have an identity, an essence, a purpose. Some would even say a soul. Brands are defined by people. In order for a brand to create a strong connection to a person, it must get personal. I think managing emotions is absolutely possible. I know it is. It’s been done for hundreds of years. The real question is… how can we manage them in a way that it makes a connection. And that is what branding is about. The connection.


My name is Dennis Bosher. I have been in the design business for nearly 15 years, with a large portion of that focused on branding and identity development. Branding has been a passion of mine for a very long time. If you would like to reach out, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to get back to you.

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