“Hello. How are you?”

A simple but oft-overlooked phrase.

Not “what are you?” Nor – in spite of all the pages dedicated to purpose by the likes of Simon Sinek, “why are you?”

No, it’s always, “how are you?”

In other words, whenever we meet another person, our instinctive question is invariably to ask them how they’re feeling, and it’s a lens we often attach to our relationship with brands.

While the logo might convey a certain ‘look’, what drives those relationships is how those brands make us ‘feel’. After all, emotion drives action.

Numerous studies have shown the importance of emotion for decision-making, not least of all those conducted by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and detailed in his 1994 book, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. Further evidence comes in the form of this Harvard Business Review article that identified the emotional motivators that shape purchase behaviour to the point of quantifying the value of emotional connection. Consequently, it’s no surprise that emotion is right at the heart of building brands with meaning and impact at FutureBrand.

Our own FutureBrand Index adds weight to this growing sense that the balance is shifting from ‘why’ to ‘how’ a brand might make a meaningful connection with its customers and employees. Over the years, the Index has shown how those attributes that define ‘Experience’ – including the need to build a strong emotional bond – are growing as drivers of brand perceptions, more so than those associated with ‘Purpose’. That’s not to say that Purpose is not powerful, quite the contrary, it’s no accident that many successful brands have very powerful statements of organisational purpose, it’s just that they’re now shifting their focus and converting them into an even more powerful and connected brand experience.

Future brands understand how to leverage the power of emotion to add value to the experience. Sometimes it can be hard to put your finger on what it is that makes a brand special. But like any special relationship your life, it usually comes down to how it makes you feel.