Traditional marketing is a little bit like a guessing game. Although we use complicated metrics to measure results, we still cannot plan effective campaigns without using neuroscience and the right mindset to create the overall brand experience, as opposed to marketing messages designed to persuade your audience to buy.
Why does our brain buy certain things and avoid others? Why do we like certain brands and we want to identify ourselves with them? How to appeal to your customer’s senses? What is the difference between a woman’s, and a man’s brain?
Conscious vs. unconscious brain battle
By the age of 3 we can already recognise hundreds of brands. They are deeply embedded in our brains because they help us make sense of the products we are exposed to every day. We deliberately avoid thinking too much about our choices and tune-up our consciousness to the knowledge we have already stored in our brains. We are exposed to a marketer’s work, which represents the summary of representation of a variety of products; they craft repetitive images of the brands to teach consumers what the brands stand for.
We are exposed to these messages every day and we learn, unconsciously, about the brands. Most of us assume that experiencing a brand directly is the most powerful factor to influencing memory associations, but researchers have proved otherwise. Surprisingly – experience with a brand is most often shaped by memories that already exist! That is one of the reasons why ethnic marketing becomes so important when planning a communication strategy for any brand appealing to a wide audience.
A brand has visual aspects such as a logo or slogan, or even a brand ambassador, but in fact, all that matters is whether the brand exists in people’s minds. How does it connect to their ideas and feelings? Those connections actually determine whether the brand lasts.
Brand equity gives us the answer to how memorable and strong a brand is. This gives the brand’s financial results, as studies show. A strong brand opens the door to new partners, enables new possibilities and attracts the new and best talents. The brand for neuromarketers remains a concept that is remembered by a consumer and is associated with certain values. It is not a brand in the traditional meaning as name, design, symbol, or other feature that differentiates an organisation from others.
For example, the concept of Apple as a brand is the perception of prestige, well designed, useful and a practically tailored solution for consumers looking to add stylish equipment to their personal branding. The impression is associated with particular shape, colour, touch and shopping experience (well trained, friendly, open- minded staff, clean design of POS). But the brand is also built with a connection in the minds of consumers, such as an association with high class, prestige, love for minimalistic, clean and high-tech design, sense of novelty, modern attitude toward life, simple, yet useful technical solutions helping people in everyday life. The brand’s slogans such as “Think different” or “Bigger than bigger”, “Forward thinking, you are more powerful than you think”, “This changes everything. Again.”, “A better experience with every touch”. Simple, yet attractive and informative brain boosters that reinforce the Apple brand.
A brand is not what you see; it is what you are expecting to see
Through experience, brands are associated with a set of personal expectations. Both are created by marketers and their main goal is to create and update consumers with the right set of them. It is almost like a placebo effect. Once you set up the strong expectations for your brand, it can work as a placebo, in that it is often seen as the real thing, simply because people expect it.
That’s why in spite of not having much difference in taste, most consumers will choose Coca Cola over Pepsi, as long as they are told they are drinking Coke. In a famous experiment performed in 2004 at Baylor University, participants were given Coke and Pepsi placed in random order. The researchers told the consumers what they were drinking – Coke or Pepsi , and measured their brain responses.
While part of the brain associated with taste and immediate reward was activated in both groups of consumers, the part that was told that they were drinking Coke had an additional part of the brain activated. It was associated with positive emotions and explicit episodic memories. As a result, the researchers came up with the conclusion that a positive emotional response to Coca- Cola is related to lifetime marketing exposure, which has a greater impact on the tasting experience than the taste of the drink itself.
Goals, fluency and values
An experience with a brand can activate both conscious and unconscious response goals. Consumers can be driven by social situations, cultural meanings, ego threats such as losing self-esteem or self-interest, temptations; they could be mimicking others, or follow stereotypes. The brands can actually trigger aspirational goals. Nonconscious goals make us choose products intuitively rather than reasonably. Our unconscious brain is less prone to any distraction, making it possible for us to achieve our goals, navigating us towards them; even immediate circumstances are disruptive. It increases motivational strength over time. What is important – the unconscious mind might not necessarily follow logic.
After watching TV for some time, you start to feel hungry and your brain is leading you to the fridge regardless of the time and logic as you have already had dinner and shouldn’t feel hungry at all. But while you were watching the telly, several times you saw a pizza advert. Over time, your brain associates pizza with hunger and you realise that you need to eat something. Although your unconsciousness is associating the advert with hunger, it doesn’t have to be pizza. Your brain will lead you to achieve the goal – satisfy your hunger, regardless of the choice of food. Even a tub of ice cream will do!
Fluency refers to our perception of an object or situation. This determines how valuable and meaningful the product is for us. There are several factors shaping fluency. One is familiarity. In simple words, it is the frequent and consistent exposure of a brand. The more we are exposed to the brand, the more positive response we feel about it. Another is easy to read statements and arguments that are seen as true.
A very important visual aspect used to create fluency is beauty. The most attractive to us are symmetrical faces and bodies, strong contrasts between the background and foreground, also predictable patterns. However, it is worth adding, that using ugly and hard-to-read fonts which make you pay attention to what you read, rather than easy-to-read ones, which according to scientists’ studies, make the content less memorable. When writing content as part of marketing communication, the shorter the message, the better. Easy to process short sentences, lots of free, white space, using graphics and videos, seem to be the most effective way of reaching your audience.
When a brand is strongly associated with a value in a consumer’s mind, people can consume the values of a brand, for example Iphone. Values are like goals. People generally feel better about themselves when goals fit within their set of values. Let’s talk about Poles as an example. One of the most important values for them is family. As an ethnic communication agency, we identify, implement and measure the success of any marketing communication campaign based on specific values Poles are attached to, taking into account your current brand equity, and applying your principals according to the Polish culture.
All the above principles show the power of brand equity; that consumers consume a product not only for its benefits and experience, but mainly to fulfil their expectations associated with the brand. This effect is apt to occur, even when consumers are not aware of it.
Make sure that your brand has positive brand equity in the Polish community. For tailored solutions, do not hesitate to contact us.