For marketers, emotion is central to our work. If stories are the way we connect with each other, emotions are the threads from which we weave those stories. What would It’s A Wonderful Life be without the tragedy that builds to catharsis? And without the unbridled joy captured in its colorful silhouette ads, would the iPod have been the iPod?

Who knows?  But Apple’s decision to lead with emotion, rather than product, was a marked departure from the clean photos and simple taglines it had leaned on for so long. Those previous placements may have been effective, but they weren’t memorable. And the bursts of color that came to dominate much of Apple’s advertising in the early 2000s became almost as iconic as the brand’s 1984 spot, another story-driven triumph.

Some products can be easily linked to emotions. Music is one of them. For Apple to ask people to buy into the emotional narrative of the iPod wasn’t a major risk – it was a calculated one. Other products – say, home insulation, auto insurance or ladders – may not have the same obvious links to emotion. But find the right way to reframe the narrative, and suddenly you have a lot more value to offer the consumer than simple product traits. You give people a story that relates to their everyday lives.

Instead of a product that efficiently fills gaps and voids, home insulation becomes the product that keeps families warm and makes a house feel like home during those cold winter months. Instead of a necessity of the road, auto insurance becomes the thing that supports the road trips and traffic sing-alongs and family misadventures that add up to a life well lived. And ladders – well, ladders aren’t just tools. They’re the extra step you need to build a treehouse that your kids will adore or to rescue a beloved frisbee from a roof.

Every product, every offering has a story, and every story worth telling is built on emotion. If ever you lack for inspiration, think about the life of a product. What does it enable? What does it witness? What part does it play in the tapestry of a life? Answer those questions and you can find a new angle on anything.

Ready to find the story you should be telling? We can help.