The brand mark of emotion or the emotion of the brand mark? How does it work?

Tanguy de Laubier

Chairman and CEO

Views and ideas


“Emotion” comes from the Latin “motio”, which means “motion”, and “e”, which means “that comes from”. In other words, “emotion” sets in motion.


Emotions have played a key role in Man’s survival and development since the very beginning. The fear we feel when we discover a snake under a rock produces the urge to flee and protect ourselves from danger, while, more subtly, joy will help us to solve problems of self-development and to face the future more confidently, for example. We are all descendants of survivors. Analysing our emotional experiences enables us to adapt, to make decisions, or even to anticipate new situations. The combination of emotions and memorisation that produces experience has today become a cognitive reflex. The more emotional an event is, the deeper the mark it makes on our memory, unlike neutral events that we simply forget.


Everyone can remember exactly what they were doing on 11 September 2001, while 11 September 2018 has probably already been forgotten, because it is not associated with a highly emotional situation. Memories are produced by emotions. The mark left by emotion.


So what is the emotion of a brand mark? A mark is only a short step from a march. The words even look similar. And for a good reason too! The philosopher Michel Serres tells an astonishing anecdote about the history of the brand… Did you know that in Late Antiquity, streetwalkers on the Mediterranean shore in Alexandria used to leave their initials in the sand on the beach? This enabled potential customers to track them down, because they wore sandals marked with the initials of their little business… So brand marking is the oldest profession in the world! Just an anecdote? Not really, because marking and marching share the same etymological roots. The mark left by marching. Close to the body, its gestures and its conduct. Signs of people’s visits, lives and actions that they leave behind them. Marks are signs of the passing of time, of history, culture and identity.


Our nervous system and our senses have always been more responsive to symbols than to things. Man is moved by marks, by signs, by symbols and the words we use to talk about them. The appeal of marks, rather than things or objects, is thousands of years old.


And this is truer than ever today. In an increasingly digital environment, brand marks need to intensify their human dimension in order to strike an emotional chord with their audience. They need to tell a story and create a memorable relational experience that lives on in people’s minds.


They must make a mark to work and to set things in motion…