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Why We Love Brands: The Psychology Behind Branding

Why We Love Brands: The Psychology Behind Branding

As consumers we like to think that we objectively select products based on factors like functionality, features, quality, price, etc. However insights from psychology show that there are more factors affecting our decision making than we might think. Our feelings and identities have a great influence on which brands we choose. Smart marketers know this and that’s why brand marketing exists!

Consumers build brands, not companies. Consumers give brands value by developing perceptions and expectations for those brands. Companies enhance the value by delivering consistent brand experiences that consumers can trust. Branding requires the right blend of process, intuition, experimentation & leadership to be successful; understanding the consumer on an emotional level is essential.

Three concepts from psychology explain what makes us love brands: emotional decision-making, personal identity, and social identity. Research shows that our personal goals and ideals play a key part in creating connections with brands. We want to:

• Express ourselves as individuals
• Be hopeful
• Focus on wellbeing
• Celebrate freedom
• Be adventurous
• Cultivate a sense of belonging
• Support sustainability
• Achieve

Notice that these needs are driven by emotions. Human psychology and how it affects consumer behavior is the foundation of brand building. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? As you travel up the triangle, needs become less physiological and more emotional. The influential role of emotion in consumer behavior is well documented; according to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and appeal to a consumers’ deep, often unspoken emotional needs.

High-impact emotional motivators include:

I am inspired by a desire to: Brands can leverage this motivator by helping customers:
Stand out from the crowd Project a unique social identity; be seen as special
Have confidence In the future Perceive the future as better than the past; have a positive mental picture of what’s to come
Enjoy a sense of well-being Feel that life measures up to expectations and that balance has been achieved; seek a stress-free state without conflicts or threats
Feel a sense of freedom Act independently, without obligations or restrictions
Feel a sense of thrill Experience visceral, overwhelming pleasure and excitement; participate in exciting, fun events
Feel a sense of belonging Have an affiliation with people they relate to or aspire to be like; feel part of a group
Protect the environment Sustain the belief that the environment is sacred; take action to improve their surroundings
Be the person I want to be Fulfill a desire for ongoing self-improvement; live up to their ideal self-image
Feel secure Believe that what they have today will be there tomorrow; pursue goals and dreams without worry
Succeed in life Feel that they lead meaningful lives; find worth that goes beyond financial or socioeconomic measures


Branding is NOT just about your logo design or the look of your website…

As you can see there is more to developing a brand than simply creating a set of guidelines. Our CORE branding process involves an in-depth evaluation of your company and most importantly – your customer. The exercise focuses on identifying 6 key brand attributes to define the company and its target audience. We look at company goals and customer profiles to craft design and messaging that will capture consumer attention and appeal to their emotional motivators.

Once the brand is implemented the focus needs to shift from creating to maintaining the brand.

The lesson: Consumers might change the way they do things, make purchases, gather information, and spend their time, but their basic psychological needs and philosophical causes of action are the constants that marketers can always count on.

So if the thought of branding, rebranding or shifting the perception of your existing brand scares you, we’re here to calm the waters; we’ve navigated dozens of brand development initiatives for clients – and we’ve been through them ourselves.

Learn more about Hiilite Branding services

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We decided to try an experiment and ask our team, a group of savvy marketing professionals, what their favourite brands are and why. Here’s what they said:

Peter – Feels that Apple is the authority in design and innovation. He likes the combination of aesthetic and technology.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Peter Senior Developer

WillHugo Boss is simple, clean and known for excellent fit. He trusts in the quality and feels the brand acts as an understated status symbol.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Will Director

Damien – Thinks HBO has an established, credible brand. He trusts their reputation for good content.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Damien Stewart – Jr. Web Developer / SEO Analyst

Liz loves MEC. The brand communicates an outdoor lifestyle and sparks nostalgic memories of time spent outdoors camping with her dad.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Liz Content Strategist

Heather – Classic case of Coca Cola vs Pepsi. She used to think she choose Coke based on flavour, but she does admit that she has an affinity for the classic branding of Coke over the “next generation” campaigns of Pepsi.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Heather Developer

Toria – Likes the adventure lifestyle expressed by Jeep. The brand communicates an experience, rather than a set of features.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Toria Account Manager

Carly – Loves Lush because of the consistency from the package design to the product naming to the in-store experience.

Jamie – Prefers smaller, local brands. She feels good supporting them, particularly those that are positioned as ethical and environmentally friendly.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Jamie Langevin – Senior Designer

Tina – Likes NIKE because their messaging is aspirational. The brand inspires empowerment and achievement.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Tina Creative Director

Adrienne – Loves Betsy Johnson because it’s fun, vivacious and loud. She identifies with the brand personality and it satisfies the desire to project a unique social identity; be seen as different.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Senior Marketing Manager

Danielle – She’s a little biased (as this is her own creation) but Carolily Finery is inspirational and empowering. The brand messaging encourages women to embrace their individuality and feel confident in their own skin.

Hiilite | Marketing, SEO, Branding, Web & Graphic Design Danielle - Marketing Manager

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