The Psychology of Marketing Strategy and Branding

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By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist

What is branding?

Branding is the interface between the audience and your product.

It’s often the first thing that people see when they see your product, and it informs the way they perceive and use your product. 

It shapes their experience.

But branding doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It emerges from the interaction between your product, your company, your employees and the public. 

Your brand isn’t just a logo, a font or a color scheme. It is who you are. It’s how other people view your company as if it were a person. 

Branding is an affinity that people have about your company. 

It’s a vague understanding of who you are as a business, and what you represent, and why you exist. 

It’s an abstract connection–a gut feeling that’s difficult to articulate. 

It’s an art.

The Mind of Your Audience

In order to understand how people arrive at an understanding of a brand, you have to understand how we form concepts, build mental models, and form meaning. 

You have to understand how humans construct a representation of the world. 

You have to understand universal human values. 

But you can’t simply ask people what motivates them, how they form meaning, and how they form values. You have to observe their behavior and look at the language that they use to describe themselves and their view of the world. 

When you understand their values, you can determine if their values align with what you have to offer. 

And when your values align with the audience, then the audience intuitively understands your brand. 

This increases the perceived value of the product. 

It reduces the friction between the audience and your product. 

It creates meaning, and people will pay more for meaning. 

Mind Mapping

To understand people’s values, motivation, and meaning, you have to observe them with empathy.

We look at them from many different angles, from demographics to psychographics to surveys, interviews and observations. 

We look at third party research, academic research, purchase patterns, shopping and consumer behavior and media use. 

We detect patterns within this data and form hypotheses about the mind of the audience that informs branding and creative. 

Psychology Informs Creative

Psychological foundations are embedded in all aspects of the brand character. 

They inform the design, the messaging, and the look and the feel of the product. 

They inform the expectations and reputation of the brand. 

These psychological foundations help us use the right language, rituals, and imagery to connect with the audience. They shape the experiences that people have with the brand.  

Psychology Informs Touchpoints

The creative work reaches the audience through touchpoints. 

Touchpoints are the interface between your product and the audience. 

Touchpoints are where people access the brand and begin to recognize what your product represents.  

They include television advertisements, digital advertisements, social media advertisements, print ads, out-of-home pieces like billboards, as well as real life and digital experiences.

The audiences’ attitudes and values are considered, along with their exposure to different touchpoints, to embed persuasive psychological principles with that touchpoint.

Psychological principles are aligned with specific behavioral events leading to new users, repeat users, brand loyalty, and trust. 

It increases the psychological connection between the brand and the audience, builds affinity for your product, and drives behavior change.