Why do we choose the products we do? What compels us to choose one soap over another, one TV or another, or even one retailer over another? It all comes down to branding.
Brand is the beginning and the end of everything. We see brands everywhere, all the time, whether we realize it or not. Our world is flooded with brands, and the good ones know how to make us choose them over all the noise.
As consumers, we choose brands for a variety of reasons. Some brands we choose because they offer status, some because we trust their quality, some because they’re the best price… but some we choose just because they’re the most familiar, because they’re comfortable, because we trust them.
So how does a business create a brand that consumers know and trust? How does a business become a go-to, a best friend, and a first choice? Here’s how to leverage psychology to understand consumers, craft a compelling brand identity, and make your brand the first choice.
If our favorite brand was a person, how would we describe it?
The best brands feel like old friends, and the worst ones feel like a bad ex, but either way we associate brands with a certain personality. As consumers, we can’t help but humanize brands, research shows it’s just what we do. This is how we make sense of information and create points of connection to what’s in front of us. A brand is a company personified; we laugh at their jokes, cry when they tell us an emotional story, and cringe at their PR mistakes.
To create a brand that people love a business must cater to the inclination to humanize a brand and craft a personality.
Everything a business does from product packaging to advertisements tells us who a business is, and whether or not a business can be trusted.
It’s crucial for a business to create a personality that makes emotional connections with us to win our attention. To do that, businesses need to not only know who they are and what they are selling, but need to know who we are, what we do, and what we want to hear.
Does a brand look like us?
If a favorite brand is a friend, it has to fit into my world, to like the same things, understand my humor, and speak my language.
Consumers are drawn to brands that mirror self-perceptions. One research example, showed that when consumers saw a car brand as being similar to themselves, it increased their expectation that it would be reliable, play an important part of their life, and treat them well.
But looking like a customer is only part of the equation, because in order to be really successful, what a brand wants to look like is not necessarily who a customer currently is, but who the customer wants to be.
We love the brands that make us feel like the “me” we want to be -- the healthy, responsible me -- the smart, successful me -- the glamorous, attractive me.
It’s crucial for a business to know how we identify ourselves, and the selves we wish to be. For those who are parents: Do we see ourselves as being closely involved with our children’s lives? Do we pride ourselves in being at every game, preparing all of the snacks, and cheering the loudest? Or do we pride ourselves in other things? The quiet ways we stand back and let our children take the lead. If a seller can determine how we see ourselves and reflect it back to us, a connection is created that can lead to building a long & prosperous relationship.
How does our favorite brand make us feel?
As humans, we are driven by emotions. No matter how rational we tell ourselves we are, many of the decisions we make are based on feeling. We love the brands that make us feel better about ourselves, that inspires us to be better, and validate our feelings and beliefs. Research shows that our emotional response to an ad is much more influential on whether or not we intend to purchase a product than the content of the ad itself.
But what are the emotions that motivate us? For us to take action as consumers we need to feel trust, confidence, and empathy.
A company should not get bogged down by the details of the features that make a product better, but instead focus on selling the emotions of their product, because that’s what sets a company apart from the competition. We need to know a company is competent, trustworthy, and has our best interest at heart.
A good brand is so much more than a logo. It’s an entire brand identity system complete with a personality, visual identity, and emotional themes that establishes connection with consumers. Brands that harness the power of consumer psychology win customers, increase loyalty, and ultimately outlast the competition. Branding is why we choose one product over another. We look to brands to reflect us -- but also to inspire us.