Your Brain on Brand

In this article, you’ll learn how the brain interacts with branding, how the most successful brands stay relevant in your brain, and how you can do it too.

Why is it, that when you flash the Apple logo at one random group of participants and the IBM logo at another group of participants, the group who saw the Apple logo performed better on creative tasks.

Duke's IBM vs. Apple Study

It’s because Apple has been repeatedly telling us the story that Apple is the brand for hip, creative, and innovative people, and IBM hasn’t.

We’ve all been subjected to years of Subliminal messaging that leads us to believe that if we buy an apple product, we’re cooler and more creative that if we buy a product from IBM or Dell.

You get to decide what story you want your brand to tell and how to tell it.

The problem is, most people don’t give it much thought.

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Wait, what exactly is “Brand?”

Brand often gets overused in the wrong context, so it’s kind of confusing. It’s a broad thing, branding. So what really is it?

All you need to know is that branding is:

The ability to create a point of view about a specific construct (the brand / business / company / person / idea etc). To give it a specific and identifiable meaning.

Said another way: Shaping the perceptions of a business in the market as the more appealing option as compared to it’s competitors.

This Oxford definition of “brand” is not what we’re talking about or care about.

“a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.

Wikipedia says: “A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s good or service from those of other sellers.”

The word has many different definitions, but you know what it is because you interact with brands daily. You can’t touch a brand, but you can discern which brands you like, and which you don’t.

The main thing here being, “difference.”

But before you can even differ, you need to exist.

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Is Your Brand a Brand, or Just a Business?

Many people are taking on the beautiful challenge of starting their own business.

But most people aren’t well-versed in branding, marketing, and copywriting.

They go at it on their own and duct-tape together what they think is branding and marketing, or avoid it entirely.

They are excited about their business, so they speak from their own perspective and vomit the idea onto the world.

No one cares.

How could they, they don’t even know what you’re offering.

They don’t know why it matters.

Why? Because you don’t know why it matters. Or at least you can’t clearly articulate it in under a minute.

Most people I see out there who haven’t achieved any brand momentum are throwing sh*t at the wall. It’s confusing and overwhelming. It’s inconsistent and selfish.

But it’s not their fault! They (you, we) are being lied to. “They” tell us it’s easy and that anyone can do it. They say, “buy our course and we’ll show you the 3 simple steps to starting a business and making $10,000, $50,000, even 100,000 per month!”

You get my point…

But the truth is, it is hard. We have to do the work.

If you want to build a sustainable brand, you need to build it from scratch. You need to start with the foundation.

You need to know who the brand is, why it exists, who it serves, how it communicates, and what it looks like.

If you want help with this, book a brand audit call, this is exactly what I help people with inside BrandBox.


The Brain Treats Brands like People

A brand is an entity. It’s like a person. It has a personality and identity.

The brain then essentially treats brands like people.

“This person/brand is confusing and overwhelming, I don’t like them and I damn sure don’t trust them.”

“This person/brand thinks they are too cool for school. Why are they talking to me like I’m an idiot?”

“This person/brand really gets me. They seem really cool and fun. I totally get it!”

Wandering brands don’t understand who they are and don’t know how to show up consistently with the right story.

Give your person/brand a clear backstory, a mission, a voice, an attitude, and some clothes.

Then, over time, people will be like, “dang, who’s that?”

How Your Brain Consumes Information (visuals for the win)

The human brain can process visuals up to 60,000x faster than text. Let that sink in.

People see in a very specific order. First the brain sees color, then shape, then numbers, then, if you still have their attention, it sees words.

  1. Color
  2. Shape
  3. Numbers
  4. Words
FYI, there are 1,000 milliseconds in a second.

If you haven’t realized it by now, the clearest way to define a brand is visually, using color and shape. This is why big brands spend $100,000’s on a logo that may seem like a kid could draw it. Just look at the Target logo…

Just so you know, Pepsi spent a million dollars on their logo, London 2012 Olympics spent $625,000 for their logo, Accenture spend $100 million on their logo, and BP spent $211 million on their logo. Let that sink in! Source.

I’d like to interject for a second in case you’re thinking…”this is all fascinating, but I’m a small business, not a multi-million/billion dollar corporation.These principles can be scaled all the way down or up for any brand of any size. In fact, many of your competitors likely don’t practice even the simplest of these principles, thus giving you a great opportunity.

I’m not saying you should only use visuals (obviously), I’m just saying that on-brand visuals, combined with on-brand words will help you create a thriving brand. One that stands out and sticks in the brain of your ideal customer.

Combine clear ideas with on-brand visuals for optimal retention.

Reduce Brain Effort

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Good branding requires little to no brain effort from consumers.

Think about it this way..

The brain has millions of “files” with important information stored away and ready for retrieval at any given time.

Good branding not only puts the brand into one of those files but also labels it as an important file. It then proceeds to keep that file in arms reach by showing up consistently.

The longer they go without interacting with your brand, the more files stack on top of it.

The larger the file, the harder it is to access quickly. So it’s your job to keep it light and simple.

If your brand changes too drastically or your message becomes too complex, you increase the chances of that file ending up in the trash.

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Most new brands get it wrong. They do things out of order or skip steps altogether.

There is an art and science to branding.

To build a sustainable brand, you’ll need a solid brand story, brand strategy, and brand design.

This is what I walk clients through. If you’re interested, book your Brand Audit here.

If you’re not there yet, download the Branding Checklist.