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The Psychology of Branding: 3 Things Marketers Should Know

Posted by Morgan Sims on December 11th, 2013 at 8:13 am

As any marketer is acutely aware, the point of marketing is to persuade consumers to notice and ultimately purchase a product or service. No matter what the conduit for getting a message out there, marketers need to reach and communicate with consumers.

A brand is more than a name and a product. It's the individual perception of an organization that thrives in the minds of those who encounter it, whether regularly or occasionally. A thorough understanding of human psychology is undoubtedly critical to the work of marketers and designers that structure branding initiatives. Understanding the users you target is the first step toward developing a successful branding strategy.

Here are a few important things all marketers should know about the psychology of branding.

Consistency and Simplicity are Key

Marketers should focus on broadcasting a consistent brand image that has been strategically designed to spark an emotional reaction in consumers. This brand image should be spread across any and all channels, including print media as well as online native ads, social media interaction, product placement, endorsements, partnerships, and TV advertising.

This is important for a few reasons, the biggest of which is the human tendency to notice patterns. Decades of research and practical application have indicated that the human brain is wired to identify patterns and find regularity in the world. Thus, marketers ought to strive to disturb this pattern. Disrupt the pattern and human brains will notice. This phenomenon contributes to why TV is important for marketers to utilize in their campaigns. Television itself has helped to shape the thoughts and opinions of viewers for decades.

A simple brand and image that is unique and different from the rest, yet focused in its message, will surely find success in reaching its target demographic, as opposed to one that is cluttered and complex with endless claims and options.

Color Can Make All the Difference

There's a reason many brands are instantly recognizable by a color scheme. Each color or color combination can spark certain emotional and psychological responses, as indicated by this infographic. Therefore the use of color in branding efforts can make or break the entire process. Take McDonald's as an example. The fast food giant uses yellow and red to appeal to the playful nature of children, which draws them to the restaurants, sparks appetites and sales, and creates a sense of urgency that promotes fast turnover. A variation of this color scheme is very popular in the food industry.

The only major globally recognized brand to use green in its marketing efforts is Starbucks. The java giant uses the dark green hue to encourage a calming atmosphere in its cafés, encouraging them to take a coffee break.

Tiffany & Co. is synonymous with "robin's egg blue" that it uses on its packaging and promotional materials. This color is actually trademarked and can't be lawfully used in the marketing materials of any other jeweler. Trademark rights vary widely, so it's interesting to read up on what can be trademarked when it comes to branding and color.

Coca Cola probably has the most notable use of color in history, with its iconic use of white sprawling letters across a sea of red. This is by design: red stimulates our appetites, enhances passion, increases heart rate, and it encourages impulsive purchases. No wonder Coke is always placed at the checkout lines. Well played, Coca Cola.

Human Decision Making Can Be An Advantage

Human beings are wired to make decisions based on a combination of several factors that drive their attention. Some of those factors are brand identification (e.g. brands of cola), internal states (e.g. thirst level), and external states (e.g. social context).

Take cola, for example. The consumer needs to process the information that's being given to him. In this case, it's several brands of cola. He also needs to leverage it against his personal thirst level, along with the social application. In this case, he's most likely to choose the option that adequately depicts an ability to quench thirst, and can prove that his friends are choosing it as well.

As you can see, there are many physiological influences at play when it comes to marketing. Any successful marketer will strive to make their brand stand apart from the rest. Psychology today reports that each and every one of us is subjected to anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 brand messages each day. Understanding the human decision-making process is the best way to differentiate your brand from the thousands of others consumers will see every day.

Keep these tips in mind, reading up on the psychology behind brand awareness and consumer trends, and you'll be well on your way toward making your brand a major powerhouse in your industry.

One Response to “The Psychology of Branding: 3 Things Marketers Should Know”

  1. Cat Fyson says:

    Hi Morgan,

    Great post. I completely agree that your messaging needs to be simplistic - I think brand imagery is so important, along with the consistency of messaging. If your brand principles are in place, you need to clearly communicate these across in all materials.

    You make an interesting point about colour as well. Connotations of colours can say so much and you want to be sure your business is creating the right impression with colour.

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