The Delicate Balance of Emotion and Brand

If you’ve worked beside me for any length of time, you know I am a fierce protector of relevant emotional connections. And while “fierce protector” may seem over-the-top, I know that finding, cultivating and closely guarding the right emotional voice is one of the most powerful communication tools we can offer our clients.

For the record, “emotion” is not a simple shortcut to a heartstrings-tugging video. Powerful emotional connections also communicate through a knowing smile, a good laugh, an intellectual conversation, or, if and when appropriate, a poignant story. The art (and effort) is in finding the right emotional voice and staying true to it—without compromise. In our work for The Polyclinic, a Seattle-area healthcare network, the care provided is focused around ongoing relationships with patients.  Rapport is built. Conversations are shared. And a camaraderie is formed. Those interactions helped us create a friendlier emotional voice for the brand—one that separates The Polyclinic from the “sea of healthcare sameness” advertising out there.

But that light rapport is a tone that would never be right for a Level I Trauma like Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The Polyclinic’s voice is also far from the emotional voice of another healthcare organization in Toronto, Canada called Sick Kids Hospital. In their latest brand video, Sick Kids leverages powerful imagery of doctors, nurses and staff working nonstop behind the scenes to help these heroes fight life and death battles every day. Set to a remake of Nine-Inch Nail’s “Hurt,” it is, a moving example of heartstrings and hope. As a mom—and as a human— it made me want to grab my checkbook immediately. Exactly the desired result.

Both The Polyclinic and Sick Kids have different emotional voices. Both exist in the healthcare space. And both connect with their audiences in a way that is true to who they are.

At Hydrogen, we believe emotional relevance is a responsibility—for a brand and their marketing partners. It’s not easy. It’s a careful balance. And it’s something we take to heart (be it with heartstrings or a smile) every day.