We remember brands because of how they make us feel. They can give us a sense of belonging, provide solutions, and even profoundly impact our lives. As our world became affected by COVID-19, we’ve seen businesses and individuals struggle with life-changing situations. How we communicate about our brand moving forward is crucial — we need empathy marketing.

Empathy marketing isn’t about feeling pity for your audience; it’s about using visual and verbal language that acknowledges feelings, needs, frustrations, and understands the solutions your audience may seek. Empathy marketing is a strategy that has been around for many years, and several brands have used it successfully.

We Need to Listen First

It’s easy to get excited and feel proud about our products or services and naturally lead with a sale. However, we can no longer market this way. By listening first, we embrace empathy—allowing us to understand, acknowledge, and reflect on our audience’s needs. The process is not about developing awareness. It’s about making a conscious effort to understand the emotions around our communities. As you listen to your audience, pay attention to what they are sharing, the words they use, and what collective commonalities you can find. You can use this insight to build connections through empathy.

See What They See

Observing the content that your audience engages with can provide some answers to your marketing efforts. While this process does take time, it can be worth it as it can give you insight into what content they are engaging with the most. Think of this as the process you go through to get to know a close friend or partner.

Embrace Color Psychology

There is a crucial and necessary step in empathy marketing that forms a deeper connection to your audience—color. Color is one of the first steps of communication. Before we even read the copy, we have an emotional reaction to color—both physical and subconscious.

Studies show that we have a physical reaction correlated to color. When we see warmer hues, we can experience a rise in adrenaline or energy. On the other hand, cooler hues can decrease blood pressure and create a sense of calm and relaxation.

Our other reaction to color is related to our subconscious. This can align with our cultural heritage, traditions, socio-economic issues, current trends, and even personal experiences with specific colors.

While it’s nearly impossible to predict your audience’s personal experiences with a color, it’s crucial to understand how the subconscious can play a role in your brand’s perception. Especially when marketing to a global audience where diversity acknowledgment is essential.

While we do experience a physical and subconscious reaction to color, we need to make sure that our copy aligns with the response we want to elicit. Using the wrong type of colors in your branding can shift the perception of your brand.

Beyond a Harmonious Color Palette

Contrary to popular beliefs, choosing a harmonious color palette isn’t enough. Each hue you select for your brand needs to be aligned with your audience’s needs and your brand values.

Warmer hues can connect to care, love, and affection. Cooler hues tend to feel refreshing, soothing, and calm. Keep in mind how shifting your colors to a tint can influence delicate energy.

If your brand is looking to evoke a sense of trust, calm, or peace of mind—consider a hue in the blue family. Now, pair that blue with aqua, you relate to healing and revitalizing energy. But if you pair that blue with a sunny yellow, you raise the colors’ energy and connect to a corporate environment.

When selecting brand colors, we need to make a conscious effort to understand how each color and the meaning it holds can shift when we pair different hues.

Update Your Visual Communication

Now it’s time to assess if your visual and verbal communication reflects empathy marketing and color psychology to elicit positive emotions associated with your brand. As you review your branding, consider using a call to action color that connects to the feelings you want your audience to associate with your brand. Make sure to maintain consistency with your brand colors as they also help build brand recognition. Using a tool like Adobe Spark can help you maintain brand consistency as you update your visual communication. Adobe Spark makes it easy for you and your team to promote your brand or business with stunning graphics, videos and animation.

As the world continues to recover from COVID-19, new needs and emotions may arise. Empathy marketing will help you stay connected to your audience and their needs and help you find ways to connect your brand, product, or service to the solution they seek.

Nicte Cuevas, the owner of Nicte Creative Design, is an award-winning brand strategist and graphic designer who uses empathy-driven tactics to evolve, invigorate, and amplify businesses’ unique brand positions. Her work has earned her features in Graphic Design USA People to Watch in both 2015 and 2020. Nicte is also an Adobe Spark Ambassador helping businesses amplify their branding using Spark Post, Video and Web.

Empathy stock photo by serato/Shutterstock