Neuroscience and branding
What makes an effective brand? Will advertising work? Neuroscience and branding (aka neurobranding) aim to find out.
The word ‘brand’ conjures up many images and emotions. Some whoop with delight at the sight of a famous fruit-shaped logo and the promise their products hold. Some groan with apathy at the idea that a brand has any value if they perceive advertising as annoying or intrusive.
Why is it then that a leading online company with a rather popular search engine has a brand value of nearly $168bn (and they are only second)? Why is the red and white logo of a famous soft-drink regularly cited as one of the most recognisable brands on the planet?
We have not mentioned the names of the three companies but we bet that you know who they are.
Why does your brand look the way it does?
Think about this question for a moment. If you work for the red and white logo beverage business, we are pretty sure you won’t know the answer. If you work for a small, owner-managed business, chances are that the logo is based on the inbuilt system 2 thinking preferences of the owner. A large business with a highly visible brand may refresh every 5-10 years so you could have sleepless nights about getting it wrong.
After all, your brand is often the main thing people recognise about your company. It can communicate what you do and why you do it. People often have an implicit trust of brands to which they are regularly exposed.
How important is a brand strategy?
Neuroscience (and branding) plays an increasingly important part in your brand strategy – both online and offline. For organisations with a significant brand value on their corporate balance sheet, there is a tangible financial risk to any action that impacts this value or undermines the brand equity built up over decades.
We like to think of ourselves as being developed creatures. However, evolution means that many of our reactions and instincts were cultivated over thousands of years. Primal instincts include (but are not limited to):
- Hunter-gatherer tendency
- Drive to the great outdoors
- Fear of loss
- Familiarity equals safety
All of these have implications for branding and advertising.
Neuroscience and branding implications
The hunter-gatherer tendency means that we continually assess our surroundings for threats, which is a primitive reaction to dangerous predators for survival. People tend to be driven to the great outdoors because we associate lush, rich countryside with a bounty of food important to survival. Fear of loss relates to a primitive fear of risk and people may cling onto things they don’t need to avoid this feeling. Familiarity means that if you have seen something more than once, you realise it is not a risk to you and are more likely to accept it.
What makes for good branding and advertisement?
There are a number of things that generally boost your brand recognition amongst competitors.
Simple geometric shapes and patterns are easier for the human brain to process. Heuristic thinking means that your brain takes shortcuts as often as it can to conserve energy, hence we have an in-built preference for anything that lightens the load. This can also mean a preference for beautifully simple, attractive and symmetrical faces in advertisements. The human brain finds it easier to process clean images and there is a slight preference for rounded shapes versus spikey or pointy.
Colours are important to identify brands and packaging. In short, they help you to stand out versus competitors.
Most people would associate a strong mint with a metallic green wrapper in the same way as someone else would see a bright yellow digger as a supplier of construction equipment. Strong colours make your brand and product quicker to identify against a sea of others on a B2C supermarket shelf, within a website product category or even at a trade show.
Clear fonts and text colours that stand out against the background make text easier to read and thus easier to recognise.
The amount and position of images in an advertisement can impact the ease of recognition of your brand.
The brain’s image centre has a bias towards processing images on the left and text on the right (though left-handed people do not demonstrate this bias). This has implications for more technical advertising messaging such as B2B consultancy, manufacturing or technology. Multiple visual groups and images require extra energy to process so ‘clutter’ has a negative impact. A human face looking towards you has a greater emotional connection than one looking away from you.
Human beings are generally empathic and demonstrate emotional responses to the emotions and situations of others. For example, a brightly-lit scene at a smiling family dinner is more likely to make the consumer feel happy and positive.
Simple shapes, bright colours and high-contrast text ease the burden of choice for the brain. This helps stimulate an energy-efficient, sub-conscious response amongst the cacophony of visual ‘noise’ in our environment. Repeated exposure to these simple shapes and colours breeds familiarity and the image becomes ‘safe’ in our visual processing.
How can I guarantee my brand recognition and advertising impact? Neuroscience and branding are a game-changer.
The CIM Chartered Marketers at Think Beyond advocate scientific methods to measure activities and marketing return on investment (MROI). Using neuroscience experiments in neuromarketing can boost your MROI by scientifically evaluating responses, gaze and physical cues when exposed to stimulus. Neuroscience and branding, or ‘neurobranding’, focuses on responses to brands.
Traditional methods of gauging reaction to branding and advertising involve focus groups, surveys and interviews but there remains potential for bias and error. Therefore, before jeopardising brand value and recognition or gambling significant marketing funds on an untested campaign, consider neuromarketing as a proven way to lower your marketing risk.
Contact Think Beyond today
Think Beyond is a Cheshire marketing management consultancy with a philosophy of change and measurable results. We operate in Wilmslow and Alderley Edge, with clients across the North West, from Manchester to Lancashire and beyond. You can request a free one-hour initial consultation by calling 01625 682110 or complete our easy contact from to request a call back.