Companies have to make their brand or product stand out and one of doing this is by building some kind of emotional connection.
Emotional design takes a functional product to one that gives some kind of pleasure beyond what the product actually does. Of course, marketing would say that this is exactly the kind of pleasure that the product affords though most of us often just see through this and right into the cynical exploit behind it.
Once accomplished though, it turns customers into advocates and in the case of Apple, customers into evangelical missionaries.
Getting this emotional connection right comes down to knowing your audience, or put another way, knowing your customer.
With digital audiences, we can test that easier than ever. We can serve up different web designs for the same product and test engagement by the end of the day or week. What about doing different designs for the same product but on pages which are accessed from different sources?
Holiday insurance is holiday insurance, right? But what if you are looking at travel from a seniors site? Surely the message about travel insurance should be different if you are coming at it from a site with an audience of a different demographic. Images, videos, fonts - all can be changed depending on who you are trying to attract. To rouse emotions, brands need to have personality or a strong identity.
I would love to see a study where this kind of thing has been attempted. If it has, then do let me know if it worked.
Some products are always going to struggle to emotionally connect though as they are only going to be seen as necessities and never fun things to have. I'll let you think about what they might be.