Effective brands have a strong identity that consumers can relate to. Much of this is driven by a deep understanding of psychology and brand marketers must develop the ability to make a mental connection with customers. Different strategies can enhance image perception and popular companies are showing how it can be done. In the infographic below, the University of Southern California’s Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology program took a closer look.
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The Psychology of Branding
Businesses that wish to understand the role of psychology in creating a strong brand must look into the five core dimensions: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness. Each of these shape the brand’s personality depending on the image projected onto the public.
For instance, those who want to project sincerity must come across as honest and genuine in their marketing campaigns to obtain trust. Excitement can be drummed up through daring tactics, imaginative ads, and up-to-date technologies. Competence may be established by harnessing an image of reliability and efficiency. Sophistication can be communicated through glamorous events and charming ambassadors.
There is another component called unconscious branding. This is achieved when a campaign is so effective that the people subconsciously feel an association with the brand even if the actual advertisement has already been forgotten. They may have perhaps seen it on the train station or the highway billboard and internalized it without realizing.
Seven Steps to Changing Behavior
Branding specialists have identified an effective path towards changing consumer behavior. There are seven steps that need to be followed in order to achieve this goal. First is to interrupt the old pattern in order to make way for the new. Next is to create comfort such that the consumer begins to appreciate the shift. Then the imagination must be led to a new normal. Shift the feeling in favor of the brand and follow it up by satisfying the critical mind. When doubts begin to surface, make sure that there are answers to quell them. Cement the gains by taking action and changing the associations.
Examples of Psychology in Branding
The use of color is an interesting strategy that is often used by marketers to increase brand appeal. Different colors tend to represent different ideas so products must be designed with these in mind. What people see will determine how they feel about the brand’s personality. Make sure that their perception aligns with what the business wants to convey.
Words must also be chosen carefully. Product names often go through rigorous consultations before they are finalized. Consumers tend to go for names which sound more expensive than the competition. If they read something plain, then they are likely to look elsewhere. They make value judgments based on their perception of sophistication.
Another example is crafting a sense of belonging and achievement. Brands can identify themselves as belonging to a certain social categorization such as the youth. Loyalty is fostered by telling the target consumers that the brand is on their side as opposed to their competitors.
The act of shopping may also be elevated from a simple task into an experience with the brand. The retail stores should act as the physical manifestation of everything that the business wants to convey to the public. All of the details of the design must reflect the prevailing image so that there is no cognitive dissonance.
The Loyalty Pay Off
Apple, Ford, and Starbucks are all rated as #1 in their respective categories according to the Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Their branding strategies merit study to see how all of the concepts work in practice. For instance, Apple’s use of colors is quite consistent with white dominating the palette. This evokes cleanliness, simplicity and elegance. Their products have also become symbols of luxury and advanced technology. While there is no shortage of critics, the general public seems to buy this image. The vast majority of Apple customers are replacing their iPhone with another one from the same line. They can’t imagine using a different phone.
Ford, on the other hand, has always been one of America’s most respected brands in the automotive industry. The cornerstone of the image is its slogan “Built Tough”. The company banks on the ruggedness of its vehicles to entice motorists to buy from them. This branding tactic provides consumers with a sense of safety and security that makes them prefer Ford cars over others. Loyalty is strong with a survey revealing that 44.1% of their buyers already have another Ford in their garage at the time of the purchase. People stick to the brand because they expect utmost reliability across all models.
Starbucks is another company that uses color prominently to identify themselves, send a strong message, and become differentiated from everyone else. The green logo signifies the commitment to fair trade coffee and corporate social responsibility. Social categorization is also utilized to develop a bond with customers and exclude competitors. The end result is a highly successful customer loyalty program. Rewards such as discounts and freebies continue to turn casual customers into regular ones. Those who are able to achieve a superior status through the rewards program report a sense of belonging and achievement, encouraging them to keep on making purchases.
Tips for Brand Marketers
Actions speak louder than words. Therefore, be mindful of what the brand does because these will leave a bigger impact on the minds of people than any of the words they hear. It values should be reflected in its actions. Any disconnect will be perceived as a lack of sincerity.
Brands should speak for themselves through interactions with customers. This is now expected in the age of social media. When people have inquiries and complaints, they want to speak directly to a brand representative to set things straight. Quick action is required to mitigate problems and turn irritation into satisfaction.
Marketers must get to know their target audience in order to tailor their efforts in the appropriate manner. They need to have a solid grasp of the brand’s purpose, the needs it plans to fulfill, and how the brand will inspire the consumer to believe to the point of loyalty.
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