4 Ways of Eliciting Emotions in Digital Media

customer emotions
What emotion is your marketing creating in your prospects & customers?

Why should we be concerned about eliciting emotions in digital media? As we learn more about customers’ decision making process, we have discovered the outsized importance of emotions. In the past, the assumption was that people make rational decisions when deciding whether or not to buy something. With the advent of neuromarketing, however, scientists have proven that most of the information we process is taken in on a subconscious level, with emotion playing a huge part. Then our logic justifies our decisions after the fact. Bottom line – emotion matters. A lot.

In this context, marketers want to make sure that their digital communication is hitting the right emotions in prospects and customers. Research from LAB, a neuromarketing company in the UK has demonstrated that all digital photos and videos are not created equal. Some are much better at eliciting emotions in digital media. Here are some takeaways.


Generally speaking, viewers react with warm emotions such as desire, joy and approval to photos and videos that are rich in color. However, if you have a luxury brand, highly saturated images may not be right for you. Luxury brands benefit from a cooler, eliciting emotion in digital media might not benefit them. A more remote, unemotional look is indicative of exclusivity. This is why high-end retail stores often have a lot of hard, shiny surfaces and product is displayed far apart.

Regardless of where your product falls on the bargain-to-luxury spectrum, avoid images that have high contrast, low color saturation and low resolutions. These images provoke negative emotions like fear and disgust.


In an image, the closer the main object appears to the viewer, the stronger the emotional response. For example, a photo of a smiling man who looks like he is far away is less emotive than a close-up of the same man. This is true whether the image sparks a positive emotion or a negative emotion.

Emotional Language

Our subconscious reacts to language quicker than our rational brain. That’s why it is best to avoid negative phrases. For example, if you have a food with a health benefit, it is better to call it “healthy” than “fat-free” or “guilt-free.” When processing those kinds of phrases, our brains discount the negative part (in this case, “free”) and focuses on the main word (in this case, “fat” or “guilt”) which cause negative emotions.

This is also the case when cautioning people about something. For example, it is better to say “Remember to buckle up” than “Don’t forget to buckle up.”

When writing any kind of business communication, consider the emotions that your audience may associate with your words. For example, if you were marketing ski apparel in northern California, you might want to avoid words like “toasty” or “fire” because they might bring up negative emotions associated with the rampant wildfires in that region.

Mirror Neurons

One of the most interesting things we have discovered about ourselves is the existence of mirror neurons. These neurons in the brain prompt us to unconsciously copy the facial expressions and body language that we see, both in person and in images. This “monkey see, monkey do” behavior helps us to form bonds with people and create empathy.

With digital media, however, you should be aware that you may be inadvertently causing viewers to experience negative emotions. If a person in a video is frowning, for example, viewers are apt to frown as well and feel bad. Make sure that people in photos and videos have at least neutral facial expressions and body language to avoid this pitfall.

Here is a great example of a video that sparks strong emotion. It is from Greta Thurnberg’s organization and, as you would expect, is focused on getting people to take action on climate change. As you can see, eliciting emotions in digital media makes a huge difference in its effectiveness.

Contact Pro Creative to ensure that your digital media is working to provoke positive feelings in your prospects and customers.

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