|This guest blog was written by Daniel Moore from Iron Dragon Design, a freelance creative studio based in Bournemouth, UK.
It is interesting how manufacturers and services use the power of psychology to market their brands.
Why? Because humans are funny creatures. At our best, we are loyal and trusting, caring beyond our own wants and needs. At our worst, we are capricious and fickle, given to bouts of irritability and insular motives. It is almost staggering to think that brands devote millions to understanding us when half the time, we struggle to understand ourselves.
We are, by our nature, emotionally driven creatures. We are pushed and pulled by our needs and desires, but these can almost always draw a line back to a basic emotion. Emotions form the basis of our interactions, not only with each other but also with brands.
We have a bewildering amount of choice for any product or service we can dream of. In a world where we can get whatever we want almost instantly, how do brands stand out amongst the noise?
Successful brands use psychology to understand their consumers and at the heart of this study is how these markers make us feel.
Values, vision, and mission
At the centre of the theory behind brand psychology are the values, vision, and mission. These are the internal structures of a brand that help define how they interact with the world. All the later choices in brand identity are driven by these core truths.
It is remarkable, then, that so many brands miss this entirely. Though we may all have heard of the ideas of values, vision, and mission, it is often something we gloss over and do not give them the attention they deserve. Understanding these central pillars of your brand will allow for consistency and confidence, which are excellent at attracting the right people to your business.
This trifecta needs to show who the business is at its core. If done correctly, they become a mantra for the brand to operate under. A brand that has clear values and vision will find it hard to become lost – any decisions made should always align with these truths.
Values, vision, and mission are important to brand psychology as they form the roadmap to what the brand is trying to show. When a brand knows what it is and why it is, it can use appropriate psychological markers to attract its ‘tribe’ – followers, interactors, influencers, and collaborators who also appreciate similar values.
Colour and shape
One of the simplest parts of brand psychology to understand, brands use colours and shapes to help associate emotions with their product or service. By doing this, consumers have an instant expectation at a subconscious level.
Colour creates emotions and feelings in the onlooker based on several factors. Across human history, we have assigned meaning to signs (a study called semiotics) that society has agreed to hold specific meanings.
One of the best examples of colour at work is fast food restaurants using red, which quickens the heart rate (excitement) but also can make us feel hungry. Look at popular fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds, KFC, or Pizza Hut and you will see an abundance of red in their marketing. Shapes too hold specific meanings in branding – circles denote community and the infinite, Shiloh triangles are seen as mysterious and powerful.
One quirk of evolution is that we perceive shapes before we do colours. The brain is trained to perceive threats, shape, and silhouette being the first markers that we use to understand what we are looking at. For brands, it is important to use shapes and colours that endorse the message they are trying to convey.
Voice and tone
How we communicate is important in wider psychology and this is also true for brands. Understanding the voice of a brand can have wide-ranging benefits, allowing companies to build a closer connection with their desired market.
Voice is how a brand communicates – it is based on honest core values and will attract different people depending on how they perceive it. Consumers are not robots, they have their own desires, wants, and needs and a strong voice will evoke feelings in a market that can be used to create not only awareness but also a deeper connection.
Whatever you want your audience to feel, linguistic psychology can play a vital role in supporting more visual assets like shape and colour. Too much jargon may make consumers feel foolish, whereas sometimes using slang or colloquialism can create a more open and comfortable feeling.
Tone is when the voice is subtly varied depending on the audience – this helps offer nuance for the brand. Adjusting tone is important as it allows a company to communicate ‘on brand’ whilst appreciating the context it may be digested in.
Character and archetype
Brands have characters that can be defined and understood, much like how people can fit into certain profiles. Brands have personalities that influence how they connect with an audience and how their customers interact. People respond better to brands speaking their language and having an archetype can help find that voice.
On a psychological level, people are more likely to interact with brands who share similar values, and a brand’s character helps to present these. A brand with the Jester archetype will use humour in its voice, attracting audiences who appreciate a more casual approach. Conversely, the ruler brand tends to be more serious, attracting a more formal crowd.
Archetypes also help align a brand’s vision, purpose, and values. They create a voice for the brand to utilise in interactions, forming consistency in their branding and message.
Brands use psychology in a myriad of ways for a crucial purpose – connection. By utilising psychology and understanding who they are trying to reach, brands can foster connections with an audience that breeds loyalty and creates ambassadors.
Creating connections with an audience is vital to brands in an ever-shifting marketplace. Building on psychology by understanding and invoking an audience’s emotional responses is critical in building loyalty and showing that a brand understands it is market’s needs, hopes, and fears.
If you need help with your brand design, please email Lara or call us on 01903 530787.