Most marketers can recite their company’s mission statement or explain features and benefits, but do they know how their brand make people feel?
What kind of associations do you want people to make with your brand? Is your brand jazzy or does it rock? Which celebrity would be BFFs with your brand?
Those kinds of questions might seem silly, but even B2B brands should be strategically constructing a “brand fantasy” for themselves. If you don’t define your own brand, your prospects and buyers will do it for you.
Daryl Weber has explored the power of buyers’ unconscious minds. He’s worked with brands, including Coca-Cola (where he oversaw brand strategy), Nike, Johnnie Walker, Pampers, and more. He’s an expert on the way consumers draw conclusions about your brand without even realizing they’ve done so, and how brands can proactively cultivate the right “brand fantasy” to connect with their audiences.
I invited Daryl to Marketing Smarts to discuss his book, Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands, and to offer advice on how you can use neuroscience to forge meaningful connections with your buyers and prospects.
People make unconscious decisions all the time (without even realizing they’re doing it) (04:53): “If we had to think through every detail and every facet of what we’re doing each day, we would never get anywhere. Most of it is processed by the unconscious, and that’s really helpful. It allows our minds to be clear and think and engage with whatever’s in front of us while our unconscious takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes.
“You can see this in how our vision works. You get very rough, sort of patchy images on the back of your retina (upside down, mostly in black and white, blurry), but then your unconscious flips it, fills in the gaps, puts it into color. Does all this processing so you don’t have to. You’re just given this image of the world around you that’s very useful…. Your brain just sort of does it for you. The same is true when it comes to making our decisions. A lot of this processing has already happened and given us an inclination towards something or against it based on the experiences you’ve had in the past.”
Distracted decision-making is a given these days, so the unconscious is running the show (06:24): “If you’re even slightly distracted, you’re going to make different decisions. The brain can only process one thing at a time. There really is sort of cognitive energy almost in that when you’re tired, you lose some of that energy…. People are under this cognitive…load and will make the easier decision. They’ll go with what their unconscious was pushing them towards rather than having the energy or willpower to override that decision…. And when aren’t we [distracted]? Our unconscious is having more of an influence on us than we realize or like to think….
“When it comes to marketing and brands, consumers are influenced by all these little things that are probably outside of our awareness that we don’t realize are steering us in certain directions…. If you can understand what some of those processes are and how they’re happening (and that they’re happening at all), I think it makes us smarter marketers. You can ask better questions, understand how your marketing is impacting people, and how it’s influencing their choices and decisions.”
Proactively create positive associations to construct your “brand fantasy” in people’s minds (11:00): “My definition of a brand is a collection of associations in the consumer’s mind. These can be both conscious and unconscious associations that are picked up…over the course of potentially years or decades that someone has had experience with the brand. So any kind of touchpoint from customer service to where you see it shelved to who you see holding it or wearing it, or what types of channels or magazines you see it in—all these little mentions. None of them are consciously remembered or processed, but together they add up to the sum total of what that brand feels like…and that gives you a sort of gut feeling towards what that brand is about….
“My idea of the ‘brand fantasy’ is…the strategy for shaping and molding that feeling. It’s a model for brands to take this very nebulous, not tangible thing, this amorphous collection of associations, and put it in some useful terms. My idea for the brand fantasy model was to make it actionable, make it useful for marketers, and give them a way of working with this vast collection of associations.”