My business partner Syd Kessler is a renaissance man. Not only has he started and run numerous successful businesses, he’s a published author three times over. In 2006, he published a book called Vibes: The Scientific Secret to Achieving Extraordinary Results in Sales and Management. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it (shameless plug for a friend).
In it, he posits an emotional scale that correlates to electro-magnetic frequencies emitted by the nervous system. In other words, each emotion we commonly feel is itself an EM frequency that can be measured. The higher the feeling state, the higher the frequency. At the low end of the continuum, we have the emotions of Despair, Depression, Hopelessness, Terror – complete disempowerment. Then, at a somewhat frequency range, we have Rage and Revenge. Above that, Anger. Above that, Frustration, Irritation, Pessimism. Then you reach a kind of water line where our psyches reach neutral ground, such as how we feel when we meditate and cease thought. Then, the positive emotions begin, such as Hope, followed by Positive Expectation, then Belief, then Knowing and Passion, then Ecstasy or Elation.
So, if we use this framework of emotions as frequencies, with the bad-feeling frequencies at the low end of the scale and the good-feeling ones at the upper end, an interesting application occurs when it comes to marketing. What if we asked ourselves the following questions as it relates to any brand:
1) What is the prevailing thought/emotion that is associated with this product, category or area of life? So let’s pretend we’re the owners of a cool new tech startup, and say we’re able to identify, through research or just good observation, that when it relates to computers and hand-held devices, the prevailing feeling is that of frustration and intimidation by technology. Confusing gadgets, impossible to read manuals, tech people who speak Tech and not English. Quite off-putting. Low frequency – maybe not nearly as low as Despair, but certainly below water line.
2) What emotional state can our brand bring people to, that is the solution or resolution to the prevailing state? So let’s say that our little company, having identified where people are at emotionally when it comes to our category, decides that what we can and should come to represent is “ease of use, where the technology is hidden and in service to the creative impulses of the user”. And the resulting emotion, or frequency, is that of pleasure, the pleasure that comes with being master of your little universe, the lord of your technological castle.
3) What is the emotional journey, or frequency jump, that our brand and marketing must therefore enact? In other words, what is the emotional delta, between where your customers are, and where they could be if they interact with your brand? In our example of the little tech company, the jump from frustration and intimidation to pleasure is not a massive jump, but one that’s incredibly good-feeling when it happens. And something that clearly, a lot of people on this planet will pay a premium for.
What Syd and other recent authors have given us, is a framework that allows us to see branding and marketing as the guiding of audiences through a specific journey of emotions, from where they’re currently hanging out, to a better place they can get to, if they connect with our brand.
Using the Emotional Scale, you can begin to quantify that journey, specify the gap. And our job as brand strategists, marketers, product developers, designers and retail experts – is to close that gap, time and again.