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Why Emotion is so Effective in Brand Videos

by | Mar 6, 2019 | Blog

Coldwell Banker – Owen & Haatchi

Internet users watch more than 500 million hours of videos on YouTube each day. There is a strong demand for video content, but getting your brand videos noticed among the countless options available is difficult.

The key to getting your voice heard is to create brand videos that elicit an emotional response from viewers.

Why do viewers prefer emotional videos?

Video is the ideal medium to generate strong emotions. A lot of subtle emotional cues happen when a viewer watches a video that uses beautiful visuals and tells an emotionally compelling story. A great brand video is going to appeal to the senses and has the same effect as an emotional scene in a movie.

When we watch a highly emotional scene in films, our brain releases a neurotransmitter known as oxytocin. Oxytocin causes us to experience empathy and to feel connected to others.

A study looked at how participants reacted to being shown a highly emotional scene. Oxytocin levels increased by 47 percent, and participants were found to be more likely to make decisions that would help other people, such as donating money to charity after watching this scene.

In short, viewers like emotional videos because these videos make them feel good. If a viewer experienced these positive feelings while watching a brand video, they will come to associate the brand and its products with these feelings.

How emotional brand videos grab viewers’ attention and encourage them to take action

A brand video can grab a viewer’s attention by using these strategies:

  • Making the most of the very first few seconds the viewer watches as the video autoplays. For instance, by making a strong statement, using attention-grabbing visuals and colors, and intriguing the viewer.
  • Using storytelling techniques to get the viewer to engage with the video, relate to the characters shown and generate some strong emotions.

Set some goals for your emotionally compelling story. Your story should target a specific emotion that will shape how viewers connect to your brand. Your approach should also be adapted to your target audience since viewers’ reactions and emotions can vary from one target group to another.

Viewers will likely experience one of these four main emotions while watching your video and react in function of which emotion they felt.


Happiness is the primary emotion that brands target in their videos. Studies have shown that a video that triggers a happy and positive reaction is more likely to be shared and to generate engagement on social media.

Happiness causes the brain to release endorphins. These neurotransmitters lower inhibition and make viewers more likely to listen to a video’s message and share the content. Endorphins also make us want to experience these positive sensations again, which makes viewers likely to engage with your brand again if they come to associate it with positive feelings.


Moviegoers love sad movies because they have a cathartic effect. A study has found that viewers tend to experience happiness after watching a sad movie. Researchers also believe that experiencing sadness makes us feel more connected.

It’s possible that feeling sad is closely connected to experiencing empathy and improves our sense of belonging to a community.

Fear and surprise

Making viewers feel afraid or surprised is a common strategy used by PSA campaigns. This sensation creates a sense of urgency and makes viewers want to take action or seek reassurance.

Videos can rely on fear and surprise to raise awareness of an issue or to make viewers want to take action. The FDA’s recent campaign designed to draw attention to the dangers of vaping is an excellent example of how fear is used to share an impactful message.

Anger and disgust

Anger and disgust can be powerful feelings that will make viewers want to take action if you channel them properly. This is a common strategy used by nonprofit organizations to seek donations. Make sure you channel these strong emotions properly by showing how the solution you offer will help viewers take action and take a stand against the issues that created anger or disgust.

Anger and disgust are often used in political ads. These are emotions that are often already present in viewers when they think about U.S. politics, and candidates can leverage these existing emotions to get their point across.

The ads that were created by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar’s opponent in the 2018 midterm election are a noteworthy example of how anger is instilled in viewers. The ads featured Gosar’s own siblings speaking out against him. Criticizing an opponent is a common tactic in campaign ads, but involving family members creates an emotionally charged situation that will result in a stronger and more personal reaction from the viewers.

Emotion over logic

Studies have found that emotions play a crucial role in purchase decisions. MRI scans show that the limbic system, which is the part of the brain associated with feelings and memory, is active when people make purchase decisions. However, the regions of the brain associated with logical thinking aren’t engaged.

Deciding to buy a product, or picking a product among several options available, is largely based on how a shopper feels about the merchandise. A brand video can shape these feelings and the strong emotions that were felt while watching the video will be recalled when the shopper considers making a purchase.

Final Thoughts

Emotions are what makes video content worth watching and sharing from a viewer’s perspective. People want to see content that elicits strong emotional responses because it makes them feel good. Creating videos that generate an emotional response is the best way to get noticed online since this is the type of content that people will share, remember and want to experience again.

You need a strategy to tell the right story to the right audience. It’s important to craft your story and visuals to obtain the emotion you were looking for and generate a response that is aligned with the goal of your campaign. This is a winning approach since emotions play a much more important role than logic when a purchase is made.

REP Digital is a full-service agency that specializes in crafting brand videos which will help you create an emotional connection with your audience. Take a look at some of the videos we have created to help the American Heart Association, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker connect with viewers in a meaningful way.