Brand is an amorphous concept because it’s a feeling. Whether or not we identify with a brand is a function of the mid-brain. The mid-brain is pre-verbal and helps us relate to the world by way of emotion and pictures rather than words and reasoning. It’s like chemistry, that thing that the French refer to as “I don’t know what.” In Spanish, it’s called “duende” and infers a certain magic and creative spark. As a brand, Coke has duende. Apple’s “Think Different” campaign evoked a deep sense of duende. Same with Nike’s — Just Do It. These iconic brands encompass a world of meaning and associations because they speak to us on an emotional level.
The Power Behind the Brand
It’s this emotional quality of brand that makes it so powerful. The brain is a three-tiered hierarchy: survival, emotional and rational. The survival and emotional tiers have been around the longest. That means they have seniority. All things being equal, emotion trumps reason every time. Coke or Pepsi? That’s why differentiation is so important. If you can’t be different, at least BE different.
Emotion drives motivation and passion. It kicks us into high gear. For an organization, brand clarity and a united vision is the galvanizing force. For your customers, it’s the decider.
Appealing to our passions and highest vision is a positive form of brand building, but first a brand message must get beyond the primal gatekeeper. The survival brain is all about the fundamentals: seeking pleasure and even more basic than that–avoiding pain. If you’re around to read this, chances are you’re pretty good at this because you and your ancestors developed a healthy sense of trust versus mistrust. The word” familiarity” is derived from the Latin word familiaris meaning, friendly or intimate. We’re hard-wired to trust the familiar over the unfamiliar.