Unconscious Branding | Douglas Van Praet

Summary of: Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing
By: Douglas Van Praet


Step into the fascinating world of ‘Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing’ by Douglas Van Praet. This insightful book unveils the intricate art of transforming consumer behaviors through the power of neuroscience and psychological tactics. In a nutshell, the author takes you on a journey through various aspects of human decision-making, diving into simplified methodologies for finding solutions, tapping evolutionary instincts, and harnessing imagination. Van Praet explores the human brain – the emotional, rational, and physical aspects, shedding light on how marketers can make the best use of each part. Prepare to unveil the secrets behind establishing trust and encouraging positive associations with your brand, all for the purpose of crafting compelling campaigns that stand out.

How Science Decodes the Psychology of Persuasion

Discover how the human brain reacts to marketing and how to influence consumer behavior.

Have you ever wondered why you chose a specific product in the supermarket? The human brain uses heuristics, simplified methodologies, to make decisions more easily. One of these methodologies is social proof, where individuals follow the actions of others without further consideration. For marketers, this can be a powerful tool in creating successful campaigns.

However, marketers must not rely solely on heuristics. Evolutionary traits such as the human need for a group’s safety also exert a significant influence on consumer behavior. Our adoptive tendency towards the brand is just a modern reflection of our ancestors seeking refuge in groups for survival.

To create a persuasive campaign, we need to focus on the human brain, the control center responsible for thoughts and actions. Once understood, marketers can influence consumer behavior to their advantage.

The Power of the Brain in Marketing

This book section explores how the brain is divided into three parts – physical, emotional, and rational – and how marketers can use this knowledge to create effective campaigns.

The brain is made up of three parts, each responsible for different functions. The physical part, also known as the “reptilian brain,” deals with unconscious needs such as survival, safety, security, sustenance, sex, and status. Marketers can tap into these needs by incorporating any of the six “S” words into their campaigns. For example, an ad for Grey Poupon mustard focused on survival with the added benefit of increased status.

The emotional part of the brain allows people to create connections with certain brands, as it controls memories and feelings. Marketers can leverage this by creating emotional experiences around products to encourage people to buy them. The amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus work together to recognize, like, and satisfy thirst for products like Coca-Cola.

Finally, the rational part of the brain is responsible for decision-making functions, such as problem-solving. Marketers can appeal to this part of the brain by using figures, facts, and information to compare products. Highlighting cost savings, for instance, helps to harness the rational brain.

In essence, the human brain is predictable and works through these three parts all day without awareness. Marketers can leverage this knowledge to create effective campaigns that appeal to the brain’s needs, emotions, and problem-solving capabilities.

Disrupting Patterns for Marketing Success

Interrupting patterns and creating “Oh yeah” or “Oh shit” moments are effective strategies for getting the attention of consumers in marketing, according to the book summary. While it is important to disrupt patterns to grab attention, it is also crucial to balance this with making customers feel comfortable. Using examples such as the Volkswagen ad with a child dressed as Darth Vader and the “Safe happens” ad, the author demonstrates the power of pattern interruption in marketing. By providing information that doesn’t fit expectations, marketers can effectively grab the attention of their target consumers.

Trust and Brand Success

The success of a brand depends heavily on consumer trust. This concept is illustrated by the story of General Motors, whose lack of transparency and trust led to a loss of consumer confidence and funds. Customers are willing to pay more for products they trust. A feeling of safety and comfort is the key to this trust. Brands that successfully cultivate trust and safety will benefit from increased customer loyalty and profitability.

The Power of Imagination in Marketing

Great brands know that capturing the consumer’s imagination is key to success. To achieve this, marketers can leave their key message open, allowing customers to interpret it in a way that speaks directly to them. One of the most successful “open” campaigns is Nike’s “Just do it.” By leaving it up to the audience’s imagination, Nike increased its market share from 18 to 43 percent. The brain can’t always distinguish between reality and imagination, and by encouraging people to imagine using a product, marketers help them connect directly with the brand. Apple’s iPod campaign used images of people in silhouette, wearing an iPod, allowing customers to imagine themselves wearing the device. Making a personal connection helps inspire customers to realize their imagined scenario through purchasing the technology. Ultimately, by channeling a customer’s imagination, marketers trigger emotion, which is what they want customers to feel towards their brand.

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