There are unconscious perceptions, emotions and even behaviors going on in the minds of consumers when they see and interact with a brand. These unconscious influencers are less like a scene out of the movie “They Live”, and instead serve more as practical and proven techniques capitalizing on what makes humans tick. There are many ways a brand can have a great (or not so great) effect on buying behavior.
Tapping into and understanding the psychology behind the subconscious decisions consumers make can be a great asset when both creating and implementing a business’s (or your own) brand.
Ways to use these influencers vary, from pairing your product or brand with something that resonates with your audience to the shape of a logo having its own impact.
Breaking through our attention-deficit world
First, we’ll focus on visuals, as most buyers will see a brand before interacting with it.
A brand is built by the perceptions of consumers, not by the company itself.
The way consumers perceive a brand is what defines it.
The way your brand communicates and shows itself to customers is where you have the most control. There are many ways to create the right perceptions.
Color psychology: How color affects buying behavior
Those familiar with branding should have a fair bit of knowledge on the psychology of color. Reds are often associated with food (think McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC) and tech companies love blue (Twitter and Facebook, anyone?).
Certain colors are said to bring about certain emotions, but many of these pairings have also been learned in both one’s personal experiences and culture.
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Research supports that color and light can affect our mood, heart rate, sleep and general well-being. When it comes to buying decisions, up to 90 percent of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone.
Going against these rules can say just as much about your brand as working in tandem with them.
It’s using these colors the right way that’s important.
Take Snapchat, for example. Bright colors immediately grab attention. A playful, fun mix of those colors let you know the personality of the brand right away.
Create your brand voice and identity
When it comes to brand voice, creating an identity that’s relatable to your audience is most important.
Buyers construct and, more importantly, show off their identities through the brands they choose.
In other words, they choose a brand because it matches how they define themselves, how they feel about themselves, and certain products give them the ability to express that to others.
Ask yourself if your audience is outdoorsy, athletic or health conscious. Create a brand that communicates those personality traits through its logo, colors and voice. It will stand out against the backdrop of other companies vying for their attention.
Let your fans help your brand
When people relate to a brand, they are more likely to recommend it to friends.
Think of your own favorite beer, line of clothing or phone app. These brands clicked with you, but you use them not only because they were recommended to you but because you perceive them as matching your values, your self-image, culture or lifestyle.
If a brand’s identity is this important, imagine the importance of a brand’s actions.
Any disconnect between a brand’s words and actions will be perceived as a lack of authenticity. Keep this in mind and don’t commit to messaging if you can’t back it up.
Buyer loyalty and referrals increase when an audience comes to trust a brand, and it’s more powerful than recognition.
The importance of pairing and association in influencing buying behavior
It’s long been known that the more you stimulate two thoughts together, the more likely they are to be thought of together in the future.
It’s much like that summer song that played over and over in your high school years. The two are fixed together in your memory, one eliciting feelings associated with the other.
The same can be said for pairing a brand or logo with feelings, images and thoughts. Think Nike and images of people working out or jogging into the sunset.
The secret is that this has to be subtle and accurate.
Just because something is repeatedly paired doesn’t automatically mean the association will hold. It has to make sense and align somewhat with pre-existing beliefs or critical thinking will win out.
A great example of a brand association is RedBull and their stunt videos. Across the internet, people in Red Bull helmets are doing flips and jumping out of planes. It now fits the brand. It’s safe to say their younger audience associates them with risk, pushing limits and being energized.
Emotions can be influenced, too.
Thanks to the magic of mirror neurons, when you see someone go through something, you experience similar emotions (you might cringe with embarrassment when someone does something embarrassing in front of you).
Humans’ ability to relate to someone else’s pain, happiness or frustration is something you can capitalize on.
Demonstrating how your brand can offer a solution or alleviate a familiar pain point through imagery, storytelling and content has a lasting impact on your audience.
Telling a story about how your product or service solved a problem, relieved or alleviated a frustration creates a powerful association and increases emotional attachment.
Having your brand associations in mind will help in every other marketing project you take on.
Everything from the images you present, to the words you use, should always reflect how and what you want people to associate with it. For another great example, look no further than the “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac.” campaign. Who would you rather be?
Emotional response through the buyer’s journey
Creating a lasting relationship between the brand and the buyer is key in order to facilitate a lasting engagement that produces return business.
What happens before and after the purchase might matter more than the single sale.
Studies show that through our emotions, our brains decide what to share and who to trust.
An analysis of the IPA Effectiveness Awards Databank shows that across 1,400 case studies, advertising campaigns performed twice as well when using emotional content over rational content.
Take time to think about your products and services. What emotions can they invoke? What pain-points do they solve for the buyer?
Concentrate on the feelings that buyers experience throughout the buying process and target certain stops along the way.
For example, buyers typically start looking for information. The surface level of your site or marketing should inform and drive traffic to resources so they can learn more (and see you as an industry leader).
Once interested, throw out your differentiators in an infographic, or show off a case study — something that would scare off a less committed buyer because of its length but is perfect for someone interested in learning more.
Then, when they enter the desire phase, they’ll be ready to click that contact button on the bottom of the page.
Finally, nothing elicits positive emotions like getting behind a heartwarming, worthy cause. The secret is focusing on this feeling and facilitating a sense of connection to a chosen product, or brand.
Positive posts perform better, are shared more often, and a worthy cause is sure to pull at heartstrings in all the right ways.
Harnessing the power of certain subconscious perceptions and emotions in regard to specific brand elements have been proven to influence buying behavior.
Our brand choices are based on how we feel, view ourselves, and how we want others to view us.
While product and service quality are important, focusing on buyers’ emotions and identities has a better chance of building love and loyalty towards a brand. If you can harness this power you might win for life because buyers stick with what speaks to them.