The rational and emotional benefits of brands

None of us like to think our buying decisions are ever influenced by fluffy things like image or brands. If you ask us, we’ll tell you we always make logical, rational decisions based on things like quality, price and availability. Sure, it might be a nice brand of ’thing’ we end up with, but ask us why we bought it and we’ll jump straight to how it’s better quality, lasts longer or is made from much better ingredients. That’s just how we are. We don’t want to be perceived as shallow, book cover readers. And mostly we genuinely think we are not, and only challenge our thinking if really pushed. The truth however is that most of our purchasing decisions are made up of both rational and emotional considerations. Depending on what it is, the choice may be weighted more rational or emotional, but nearly every time our choice is a balance of the two. What this means for product and service owners is that we need to understand what are the rational and emotional benefits of our offer and make sure we leverage both of them when communication to our audience.


To illustrate the point let’s use the well know, modern brand PAYPAL. You all know Paypal right. It’s a payment platform. Paypal helps you pay for things or helps you get paid for things. Sure it does its more, but that’s the basic model.


If I were asked to list a few benefits of Paypal to me, first I’m going to jump straight to the rational benefits:

  • it’s free to set-up
  • it’s available for nearly all online purchase I make
  • it’s simple and easy to use
  • the site rarely crashes (I’ve been using it for ever and not once has it been down)


But there is much more value in the Paypal offer for me if I think a little deeper. On the emotional side:

  • it is trustworthy (important with things that handles my money!)
  • it’s US based. That will mean different things to different people, but for me it’s a plus. No systems are perfect, but the US tends to look out for consumers
  • it is big. So if need to do something more or if I have some questions there will likely be someone I can talk to.
  • it is a successful, growing company so out is nice to be with a winning team that is keeping pace with technology.


So as a package I really like the Paypal brand. It is my payment platform of choice whether buying or selling. And it’s more than just the payment products and services the platform offers. I like the brand and what it stands for. 


The point of this story it to illustrate the that the rational and emotional benefits of brands is real. If you are a brand owner you need to articulate what your rational and emotional benefits are and make sure you flex both of these muscles when communicating your offer. Don’t get stuck on rational benefits only. Depending on what you are selling, that may be only half the story (or less!).