Evoke the right kind of emotion in your target audience: the fun side of branding.

When I say fun, I also mean tricky. It’s fun and tricky at the same time.

Why so? Read on.

The primary focus of branding is to evoke an emotion. To establish an emotional connection with your customer (but not in an intrusive way). Branding is subtle. (Smooooooth operator… as Sade would say). Just because you are reading this article, I am assuming you are a business owner or a marketing manager. I am also assuming that some of the emotions you want to evoke in your customers are as follows – just for the sake of this exercise, let’s take a business with the following values.

(Cool fact: your company’s values usually set the tone for your brand, and as a result dictate the emotion you want to evoke in your customers.)

Values + emotions:

  • credibility
  • sense of control and being taken care of at the same time
  • personality

Now, because humans can only process and feel one emotion at a time (e.g. you can’t be happy and sad at the same time), you will want to determine which emotion is primary and which one is secondary. Simply put it – when your customers engage with your brand (e.g. come to your website, visit your store, or pick up your brochure) – which predominant emotion do you want them to feel? In the example below – we need to determine whether credibility or fun would serve as a guiding light for the rest of your branding activities, because “fun or credibility” evoke different emotions. Now, since this company has those both values in their brand vocabulary, we will have to work these two values together – but we need to determine the leader. Who is leading, and who is following? (And this is exactly where it might get tricky, if the roles are not defined.)

What that means to your brand: 

When you are going to choose your primary colours, and your fonts, you will be guided by your primary emotion/value, and the secondary values will be exactly that – starlets, supporting actors. Together, however, they will turn your brand into a phenomenal broadway play, where each actor knows exactly what their role is.

By defining the roles and the emotions for your brand and by formulating (!) them in your brand book, you will save yourself many hours of frustration in the future, every time you need to make a decision on the look of your advertising or your new website. Be strategic, and your execution will be so much smoother. (Smooooth operator. Remember?)


I love this one, not because I am their customer, but because it’s such a great combination of using the keywords of being an expert + being fun.

RBC bank. Clearly, due to the nature of what they do they must promote the feeling of and showcase of “creditability, sense of control, and trust.” They also want to be personal, because they are in the “people” business, and hey, aren’t we all? It’s not business to business, it’s human to human (don’t remember where I heard this clever saying, but it’s brilliant!)

Now, let’s deconstruct their brand quickly.

Dominant colour: royal blue (emotional value of the colour: credibility, security, trust)

Overall look and feel of their website: LOTS of information, but they do a good job structuring it, so I know exactly why I came here.

Emotions: their secondary emotion/value is fun, personality  – hence the little guy in the funny hat. (But notice the funny guy is the supporting actor, not the lead, and that’s positioned pretty clearly.)

brand analysis - branding vancouver


You can see from the example above that RBC made a clear differentiation between the values/emotions they are promoting through their brand. While we would love to redesign their website and make it even cooler 😉 we do agree that the site works for what it’s built for. I can find the service I need, and I feel that they are not same old boring bank at the same time (while still giving me the sense of security and trust, that they know what they are doing and having “fun” is not their priority. Their priority is to give me the expert advice, management of my money. Period.)

What’s next?

Now, that the foundation of the brand has been established, they can have a little bit more fun in the way they speak with their customers in their promotional campaigns through the year. Take a look at these campaigns, and see that they are introducing new fonts, and new brand elements, but without overwhelming  the customer with a completely new emotion/look.

brand analysis - branding - vancouver

brand analysis - branding - vancouver

The brand glue:

To conclude the tricky and the fun aspects of this branding tale, let’s see what keeps this particular brand together? What’s the glue that makes sure the brand stays consistent (the main attribute of a sustainable brand). Here are the little tricks RBC uses through their brand’s lifecycle (i.e. day-to-day interaction with their customers in various forms of marketing).

Branding takeaways:

  • Keep your focus on one (primary) emotion at a time
  • Make sure your secondary emotion doesn’t take over the leading role
  • Experiment and allow your brand to be flexible and fresh in seasonal campaigns
  • Do not introduce too many new elements in one campaign (keep the focus on the familiar brand character/icon)  – similarly to the “Tailored Banking” campaign above. RBC is introducing a more fun, “hipstery” look with the ribbon-banner for the title of the campaign, while keeping their usual colours + primary font for the main messaging of the ad.

What is your brand glue? How do you stay fresh and up-to-date, while keeping it cool/focused on your primary emotions. Do you always remember what you are selling and who you are selling it to (and showing it clearly through your brand). Want to chat about? Give us a shout! Or stop by our (Creative) Greenhouse in Downtown Vancouver. We always have chocolate.