Empathy in brands

Being socially connected and feeling a sense of belonging is a basic human drive, this is why empathy plays such an important role in businesses. When experiencing a brand, I want the brand to understand my needs. For example, when travelling interstate, I’ve flown with various airlines.

Each airline didn’t have a wow factor, with the exception of one! Virgin Australia. I love flying Virgin, they just get me. They notify me when traffic congestion is going to be an issue and they send me reminders. I feel like they are personalising the experience every step of the way. They empathise with you when you are running late and ensure everything will be ok.  Empathy for Virgin is seen seamlessly throughout the customer service experience, consistent every time.

Empathy is having the ability to better understand and share the feelings of another person. By placing yourself in their shoes and gaining an insight from their perspective you’re able to experience the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another.

This follows then to my question, why do brands wear their heart on their sleeve?

This is because empathising with your customer is important, and plays an important role when making decisions, no matter how large or small your company is. Essentially, it is the cause and effect of empathy that drives that connection between brand and customer.

Empathy has also become an important tool in marketing, making it a key in differentiating the brand. After someone empathised with my situation, I decided to question a group of people in the creative industry, aged between 21 and 72 years of age, on their thoughts of brands empathising with their consumers.

By doing this research, I realised that expressing empathy predicts the degree of limitation a business withholds from their customers, as well as the prospect of the way in which can they can grow.

The findings demonstrated ‘Apple’ as the favourite of all the votes, with people believing they fit the description of an empathetic company. Their level of empathy has been explained in Forbes Magazine, where Mike Markkula’s, investor/advisor of Apple, explained their 3-point marketing philosophy.

  1. Empathy
  2. Focus
  3. Impute

Forbes Magazine then explains: Apple has used these principles to become the world’s most valuable company (measured by market capitalisation) and one of world’s most valuable brands.

All of which have also been used to define their strong marketing capabilities. Take their recent holiday advertisement for example:


The advertisement announced their new products as well as empathising with the two characters, creating a movement with their wireless headphones. Apple have successfully aligned their values and the business circle, around their worth and their mission in pleasing their customers.

This is why it is important to understand your customers and to give them an insight on your business, so that way they can understand your way of thinking. Approaching a customer with empathy draws upon their emotions and the challenges they face. By exploring different perspectives, I was able to understand the sensitivity of an audiences’ emotions.

When thinking of ways of how your brand can use empathy in your businesses’ principles, I personally like to make sure your/ I’m accounting for the following: 

  1. ‍Know the needs of the customer, observe them
  2. Create a vision for your internal stakeholder; teach them the way
  3. Create empathetic messages through digital and print communications, connect with the customer
  4. Ensure the experience is consistent in all touch points to the customer
  5. Product that is intuative and reaches the needs of the customer
  6. Let your customer experience the product before they purchase
  7. Ensure the customer feels they are getting value 'exceptional service'

Overall, the power of empathy puts a lot of emphasis on insisting that employees have the power to understand and share the feelings of another.

Written by:

Tamlyn van Zyst

Founder / Director

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