Psychology and Branding

By Adrian Sparrow
NeuLine Health

Walk down the street and see a living gallery full of bright colors, quippy messages, and eye-popping displays. Branding is the combination of design and communication to deliver a message to the public; in essence, branding is the conversation between companies and consumers. To stay ahead of the competition, brand agencies utilize many design and copywriting tools- and scientific research- to connect brands with the right consumers.

“Branding refers to the deliberate actions you take to influence people’s perception of your product or service—so they will choose your brand time and again. Essentially, it is the way your product or service lives in the hearts and minds of your customer.” (Source)


The Competition for Attention
“To quote author and entrepreneur, Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” (source)

When you experience the world around you through your sensory memory, your brain has approximately 7 seconds to decide whether to store information in your short-term memory for further processing. With such a small amount of time to make a lasting impression, companies use brand psychology to understand what draws people’s attention. Brands must compete with the millions of bits of information the brain receives every second. They must convey enough about the company and product to persuade their audience to spend time and money seeking out that brand.

To find the best way to deliver a brand’s message, brands need to know how consumers think, through “focus groups, market research, and psychological studies to better understand what compels people to commit to purchases or become loyal to brands.” (source). 

While focus groups can reveal how people react to products, prices, and perceptions, human behavior- social bias, memory recall, limited vocabulary, and emotional state- can obscure the results. Neuromarketing is another technique used to study consumer behavior and understand what makes advertising and marketing effective: researchers use EEGs and fMRIs to study how the brain reacts to products and their presentation.


Brand Techniques
Brand awareness is the way people perceive a brand in their minds. Brand recognition is how people recognize and remember the brand via colors, logos, and slogans. A brand identity combines overall aesthetic style, language tone, and the summation of these within a logo and tagline.

Artists and writers have a litany of tools at their disposal to breathe life into a brand. Color, patterning, typography, style, and composition are some of the tools artists employ. Copywriters will often use language tone, context clues, social awareness and values, and cognitive shortcuts, known as heuristics, to deliver messages in a minuscule amount of space. 

Here are just a few examples of the tools that brands utilize:

-Different colors evoke different emotions. Green makes us think about plants and nature, and red makes us think about heat. Gold denotes luxury, and blue evokes a sense of peace and cool waters. Color has an effect on both mental and physical levels. While red reminds us of danger, it’s also used frequently in restaurants and food service because the warm hue increases appetite. 

-The human brain will naturally recognize patterns. This applies to the brand’s repeated visual elements and consistency in how it presents itself. When a brand delivers the same experience every time, with the same tone, colors, and imagery, people are more likely to remember and trust that brand. 

-People instinctively want to follow the crowd because humans rely on community to survive. Fads and trends are one example of social acceptance in practice, a heuristic known as the principle of social proof. Because people are social creatures and need to ‘fit in,’ if a product appears popular, it also appears to have value. 

When you think of yellow arches, do you get hungry? The color, type, and tone McDonald’s utilizes are clear and consistent across their advertisements, products, and locations. Red and yellow are used to make customers feel hungry, and simple, concise messaging tells consumers that eating at McDonald’s is easy and hassle-free. 

This minimalist ad showcases how the McDonald’s brand is easily recognizable through simple color, type, and just the edge of their most famous burger. (source)

It’s hard to quantify branding simply because branding means something different for every company and service. Regardless, branding is an ongoing process, acting as the messenger for businesses to reach people in a rapidly changing society.




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