How to Effectively Use Emotion in Your Video Content

08.03.2022 Video Production
Molly Howe

In almost all cases, the emotional response we develop after watching an advertising video can mean the difference between us buying or not buying a product. 

Video, more so than any other type of marketing, possesses the unique ability to change a consumer’s decision-making process. Its capacity to influence consumers is even further advanced when using techniques to increase their emotional response to the video.  

Emotional marketing encapsulates advertising efforts that deliberately attempt to convey powerful messages that tap into human emotion, forcing a personal connection with its audience. It’s a masterfully impactful technique that can encourage social shares, increase sales and inspire customer loyalty. 

Let’s take a look at how to effectively use emotion in video content, and why it is so impactful. 

Types of emotion used in video

  • Happiness
  • Anger
  • Disgust
  • Uncertainty 
  • Nostalgia
  • Sadness
  • Surprise
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Trust
  • Irritation  
  • Value
  • Competition
  • Inspiration


Eggs with emotion
Eggs with emotion

How are these emotions used in video?

Throughout our evolutionary history, humans have built associations with different sounds and visuals. The brain connects these queues to certain feelings to protect us. Red, for instance, suggests danger, as does high-pitched noise. 

When creators are aware of these nuances, videos can be crafted to elicit specific emotional responses. 

In movies, this allows viewers to connect to the experiences of characters, in marketing it allows you to simulate conditions where viewers are likely to consume your product. 

To be as effective as possible, video marketing using emotion should aim to arouse one emotion such as happiness, hope, or nostalgia from a viewer.

This is achieved through a combination of performance, movement, story, script, editing, and cinematography. 

Evoking empathy by encouraging audiences to understand the feelings of another, is one of the most powerful abilities of video.

Connecting with potential customers not just through intellect but also through emotion can inspire a more successful marketing plan. It incentivises more digital sharing, consumption, customer loyalty, and brand affinity.  

Tips for successful emotional videos

  • Try to show you understand your customers on a deeper level, do this by finding out their problems and how your product can help them
  • Tell a compelling story or use an impactful character – aim to invoke a specific emotion in audiences
  • Be as authentic as possible, reflect your CSR, and don’t come across as fake. This may turn consumers away from your business and to your competitors.
  • Both animated and live-action content is effective at producing emotive content, take a look at our guide here to see what may be best for your campaign.
People emotion at computer
People emotion at computer

Positive or negative?

Does the emotional response videos demand always need to be positive?

Videos that elicit a reaction in us, or even in our subconscious tend to stick in our minds much longer than videos we feel an indifference towards. 

This works with both positive and negative emotions. If you dislike a marketing video it is likely to stick in your mind, annoying you for much longer than a video you feel no emotion towards. Hence, why Go Compare’s irritatingly perfect opera adverts do so well. 

Video marketing can be effective by using a whole range of emotions, both negative and positive. 

The Kuleshov Effect 

Lev Kuleshov, a Russian filmmaker who is considered by many to be one of the first-ever film theorists offered this question to filmmakers in the early 1900s:

“What made cinema a distinct art, separate from photography, literature, or theatre?”

Below we will see how this question can be applied to video marketing and its comparison to other forms of marketing. For now, let’s get into what the Kuleshov Effect is.

What is it?

The Kuleshov Effect is a cognitive event in which audiences derive more meaning from the interaction of two separate, sequential shots as opposed to a single shot in isolation. 

It has proven that an important part of what makes a video emotive is simply the juxtaposition of shots, sewn together to create specific emotions. 

Take a look at this short film made by Kuleshov himself to test whether audiences do truly decipher emotion in the way that his theory suggests. 

The film was shown to audiences that believed the expression on the actor’s face was different each time it was shown. They were shocked when they were told it had been the same every time. The conjoining shots, whether he was ‘looking at’ the bowl of soup, coffin, or woman, each instilled a different emotion in the viewer. He was either hungry, sad, or lustful. 

This experiment to exemplify the Kuleshov Effect proved the effectiveness of film editing when trying to elicit emotion in an audience. 

No matter what is being shown, viewers bring their individual emotional interpretations and reactions to videos. 

The Kuleshov Effect in marketing videos

Video is widely regarded as the most effective form of marketing. But why is this so?

To harness the potential of emotional video advertising, we must seek to understand what makes it so much better than other forms of marketing such as traditional, textual, or audio. Let’s ask ourselves a form of Kuleshov’s question posed to filmmakers:

What makes video advertising distinctly different from other forms of advertising? 

Largely its success stems from its ability to convey a range of emotions to a broad audience and keep them thoroughly engaged. 

The Kuleshov Effect allows your business to convey images and information in a specific way so that your target audience develops the emotions you want them to feel. This encourages them to make associations with your product and brand and fall into your sales funnel. 

See if you can spot the Kuleshov Effect in this Coca-Cola advert.

Why use emotion in videos? 

Logic or emotion?

Basic products like toothpaste and laundry detergent we buy with our brains, using logic to realise that they are essential components of a healthy life. This is why most frequently, videos relating to these types of products are far more objective in their presentation. 

Many will argue that they use logic for a far broader range of purchases but studies have shown that our instinct when watching video is to react with our emotions.

The science behind emotional marketing

When brain fMRI tests are performed on subjects considering products to buy, the limbic system (which controls emotions) lit up far more than the data processing area of the brain.

This scientifically proves that, in many cases, videos that trigger an emotional response in audiences are more impactful than those focused on logical persuasion.

Psychology suggests that negative feelings tend to superimpose all other channels of information. Your video making a room of people cry doesn’t necessarily mean it has been effective in carrying out its intended purpose of marketing. It is important not to emotionally manipulate audiences as the flight or fight response in the brain can encourage avoidance scripts in our brain to form. This has a sales inhibiting effect. A balance must be found. 

Emotion as a catalyst for sales

An advert that is effective in demanding an emotional response in a potential consumer can be the difference between a customer purchasing or not purchasing your product or service. 

In fact, studies have shown that videos which elicit strong emotions from viewers (positive or negative) are twice as likely to be shared against those that facilitate weak emotional responses. 

Another report produced data suggesting that customers who are emotionally connected to brands have a 306% higher lifetime value over customers that described themselves as ‘just satisfied’.

Further research has analysed 1,400 successful advertising campaigns, it concluded that campaigns using high levels of emotional content performed twice as well as those with rational content. 

Reaching your target audience

The Kuleshov Effect and other video techniques to increase emotiveness can be manipulated in a way that will attract and appeal to your specific target consumer

If you are are aiming to appeal to teenagers, an effective form of video advertising would see teenage characters going on a journey, influenced, no matter how abstractly, by your product. This increases the emotional connection that potential teenage consumers will feel when they view your video. It is this emotional connection that sells.

Emotion gets people to act

Marketing isn’t always about increasing sales, it can be a useful tool to grow your business in other ways, for instance increasing brand associations and attracting future talent. Using emotion in video content is a great way to encourage this. 

Happiness makes us share. This increases brand awareness on social media.

Sadness, anger, and shock prompt us to engage. We feel inspired to positively impact someone’s life or change our own. This promotes heartening associations with the brand.

This is especially important when creating content for charity organisations or videos intended to raise awareness.

Let’s round up…

  • The emotional response potential consumers develop after watching an advertising video can mean the difference between them buying or not buying a product. 
  • Emotional video marketing encapsulates advertising efforts that deliberately attempt to convey powerful messages that tap into human emotion, forcing a personal connection with its audience.
  • Encouraging empathy in audiences can help increase sales, promote your product to target consumers, and increase positive associations with your business.  
  • This can be achieved through a combination of performance, movement, story, script, editing, and cinematography. Remember to try and include some form of the Kuleshov Effect, there’s 100 years of proof to back up its effectiveness!

Looking for help to create your perfectly emotional marketing video? Why not drop us a line. We are a full-service video and animation agency with over 2000 films under our belt and would love to work with your business!

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