Can joy connect consumers to brands?

Did Cadbury hit the holy grail of marketing with their ‘Free the Joy’ positioning? I’m sure their marketing agency and their numbers will vouch that they did, but there’s something more powerful than marketing data at play here: joy!

An article in Harvard Business Review explores the idea that if business leaders put joy at the heart of their company values, then the company will be more successful. So I wondered if a brand puts joy at the heart of its values and its marketing proposition, will consumers feel the joy and connect more with the brand?

The power of joy

It’s important not to underestimate the power of joy. The article states that joy in a team arises from three things: harmony, impact and acknowledgement. In a sports team:

  • harmony would be every player having a role in scoring a goal
  • impact would be every teammate being jubilant in their success, and
  • acknowledgement would be each player’s contribution to the goal being noticed and cheered by each player.

To test if this analogy plays out in the workplace, the article cites A.T. Kearney’s survey of over 500 people’s workplace experiences in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. This 2019 survey found that those reporting feeling more joy at work strongly agreed with statements around harmony, impact and acknowledgement – the three ingredients of joy.

The survey went further to suggest that joy in business settings stems from employees believing that their work is truly meaningful and that their company makes a positive contribution to society.

Does ethical branding create joy in consumers?

So if a brand’s success lies in the extent to which its employees believe it is doing good, does it follow that brands such as Patagonia and TOMS, who put their genuine concern for the environment or disadvantaged communities at the centre of their values and marketing, have a joyful workforce?

TOMS, the global shoe brand that gives one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes bought, has led the rise of social impact brands. The company’s mission statement focuses on improving lives and improving communities. TOMS founder and ‘Chief Shoe Giver’, Blake Mycoskie, told The Guardian that by having a social mission, they attract a certain type of employee that is drawn to working for a good cause and “We have a culture of entrepreneurial thinkers, driven leaders and creative problem-solvers.” Mycoskie told Inc how he has invested in employee wellbeing and has nurtured a company culture of sharing ideas, employee participation in charitable projects and employing like-minded people who enjoy the social mission.

Although TOMS’s marketing doesn’t embody ‘joy’ in the expressive way we think of it, their company values certainly have all the hallmarks of harmony, impact and acknowledgement that are needed to create joyful marketing… maybe the ‘joy of giving’ will be TOMS’s next marketing proposition?

Do you want to harness the power of joy for your next marketing campaign? We can help, just get in touch

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