Opening the Heart: Why Emotionally Evocative Messaging Works for Senior Living Communities


Oct 3, 2017 | Marketing & Branding

As we’ve noted previously in our senior living blog, the emotional environment in which your message to older Americans is presented can be essential to its success. In fact, creating an emotional connection can make or break how your information is received, processed and responded to by senior audiences.

Does your messaging establish the correct mood and tone? Is it positive, hopeful and inspiring? Do the words and visuals resonate with what your prospects aspire to achieve? Does it evoke the desired emotional response?

Seniors’ Emotional Priorities

“This ‘emotional environment’ is created by several key communications elements that play a vital role in shaping an effective message to seniors” says Kim DiGangi, Senior Writer at SageAge Strategies. “These include words that relate to their experiences and aspirations, colors that appeal, visuals that resonate and inspire and creative designs that effectively present your overall messaging package.  And as Subaru’s highly successful evocative campaigns demonstrate, music can also play an important role in setting the mood.

“Experts in the emotional priorities of older adults share that the following needs tend to rank very high in their lives – especially in terms of housing and lifestyle – and should be addressed by senior living communities.”

  • Hope

  • Comfort

  • Warmth

  • Engagement

  • Vibrancy

“With this knowledge in hand, you can then focus on the best combination of words, images, colors and designs that convey a picture of hope, support and an engaging lifestyle that inspires interest and action.”

Connecting the Emotional Dots with Today’s Seniors

Kim adds, “Other authoritative sources including, INSPIRE Senior Living Magazine, Target Marketing Magazine’s ‘Evoke Emotions in Consumers by Using Color’ and Dot Boom’s ‘Messaging and Imagery that Connects with Boomers’ concur on the value of evocative messaging and offer useful insights for creating an emotional connection.”

For example:

  • Seniors are different – Seniors are more concerned than the average consumer about security, independence, lifestyle and family relationships. You will find more response if you can tailor your marketing message so they can see how your senior living community will provide or increase security, enhance their independence, contribute toward a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, or benefit their family relationships.

  • Change can be a positive – Change needs to be viewed as something positive, not something to fear. Some seniors thrive on being trendsetters among their peers. Try to tap into this positive energy. Empower them with knowledge and confidence as you show them how your senior living community can lighten their load and provide benefits that can lead to an enhanced, more meaningful lifestyle.

  • Trust is vital – Everything about your senior living community’s brand has to be trust-driven, familiar and recognizable: your logo, your marketing, and your “voice.” Becoming a trusted company means being trustworthy to the core. However, you cannot make “trust” just a “PR” objective. Establishing and maintaining a consumer’s trust needs to be  the result of a genuine culture that is backed by delivery of your promise.

  • Use color to help set the mood – In addition to evocative words and images, color can also help to create the correct emotional setting. Experts say color is capable of evoking instantaneous emotions and reactions. For marketers, understanding the varying emotions that different colors trigger is important to conveying the desired mood.

  • Emotional connections inspire action – When marketing messages make an emotional connection, it can be extremely difficult for consumers to stop their brains from initially reacting. And because older consumers are generally more whole-brained thinkers who have a wealth of experience to relate to your messages, your chances of evoking an emotional response with them are significantly increased.

Evocative Messaging in Action

“Evocative messaging can and should be used across your entire integrated marketing strategy – from your web pages to your advertising to your social media,” says Kim. “As always, the consistency of your messaging is key.

“Below are just a few examples of successful emotional engagement in practice in senior living.”

  • Consider this direct comparison of images and words in two very distinct advertising approaches.

The ad on the left feels rather depressing. In contrast, the ad on the right conveys a sense of hope, comfort and an engaging lifestyle as well as a staff that is warm, welcoming and caring. As these examples illustrate, a picture is still worth a thousand words in senior living. Be sure to select visuals that are inspiring as well as compelling.

Images and pleasing colors tend to attract our attention, pique our interest, evoke memories and create emotional responses within us. Combined with effectively crafted, emotionally evocative content, they form a powerfully compelling platform that “speaks to seniors” and motivates action.

  • Our work with The Jewish Association on Aging illustrates how emotion can also be used in senior living branding. Together with the JAA leadership, we created the name “AHAVA” to represent their new memory care center of excellence.

    AHAVA is the Hebrew word for love, and in one word captures their entire mission and purpose. AHAVA reflects JAA’s vision and core values and connects to the organization’s Jewish traditions. To further define AHAVA’s meaning, a tagline/position statement was created: “For the LOVE of Seniors.” The theme of love is prominent and pervasive in all of the brand’s message elements.

“In addition to these few examples,” says Kim, “we have have worked in concert with many other senior care and senior living communities across the country to create messaging that strikes the right emotional tone and generates attention, interest and response that produces new leads.”

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions on, emotionally connective messaging we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in this area, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Proven Creative Expertise that Connects with Today’s Seniors

If you are managing a senior living community and are considering the need for assistance in building a standout messaging strategy that connects with older adults and their families, we encourage you to contact us for more information today. Our creative team of writers, designers and integrated marketing professionals is second to none in senior living.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 /

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