Discover; how brands earn influence


Have you ever found yourself choosing between two similar products, but ultimately picked one based on the brand?

While walking through the grocery store, you might believe you’re casually browsing, but in reality, you’re encountering numerous small decisions. Major brands and clever advertising tactics subtly influence shoppers into making purchases without their awareness.

Let’s say you’re standing at the shelf with ketchup bottles. Despite seeing various options, perhaps recognizing some brands, all priced about the same, you instinctively reach for your usual “tried-and-trusted” favorite without really considering why, just grabbing your preferred ketchup bottle.

As you navigate through your day, surrounded by familiar brands, do you ever pause and wonder: how do these brands earn such influence, and why do we tend to pick one brand over another, even if their products seem identical? This dilemma challenges the idea of making rational decisions as consumers.

The paradox of rational decision-making

Most of us are unaware of the subconscious influence brands hold. While we may see our choices as rational, they are frequently influenced by a desire to express our identity through the brands we align ourselves with.

Our need to express ourselves is a strong driving factor. The car we drive or the clothes we wear aren’t just functional choices; they can be a way to showcase our individuality. A vintage record player might evoke nostalgia, while a cutting-edge smartphone signals a forward-thinking attitude. Each decision, regardless of its scale, communicates a message – a nuanced reflection of our values and aspirations. In this way, brands become important tools for expressing our identity to others.

This points out how much control brands can have and how their influence can affect us.

Brands aren’t just selling products; they’re selling narratives and values that resonate with our deepest aspirations.

Brands function as modern-day communities, providing consumers with a sense of identity and belonging, a role once fulfilled by traditional institutions. Understanding how brands shape our identity is important.

Whether we realize it or not, brands greatly impact our attitudes in today’s society, and we relate to brands much like we do with people. Making us express attitudes such as “I love this brand” or “I don’t like this brand,” just as we would with individuals. Brands connect with our emotions, making us feel a deeper connection, that goes beyond just knowing about them and what they do. With advancing technology, brands will likely improve at engaging our senses, leaving a lasting impact on us.

As a result, brand loyalty often appears to feel as strong as family ties, shaping how we behave as consumers and how we defend our favorite brands from criticism. Just like in our relationships with people, some brands evoke powerful emotions, almost like they’re part of our family. Studies using neuroscience have shown that Apple users feel a sense of empathy towards the brand, while Samsung users seem to have a different reaction, showing more of an anti-Apple sentiment rather than a genuine attachment to Samsung.

This insight suggests that Apple has completely defined their market, where Samsung customers, lacking that deep connection with the brand, choose Samsung simply because they want an alternative to Apple, rather than out of a genuine preference for it.

The power of perception: How brands shape our choices and why it matters

People in your social circle might have different tastes than you do, like in clothes, music, and food. Even though you may not hate your colleague’s taste in music or your friends’ style, it might not match yours exactly. How do these differences in what we like develop, and why are they different from person to person?

Think about it this way: a football player wouldn’t be looking for dancing shoes, and a chef wouldn’t need a screwdriver. So, we tend to choose products that fit our specific needs.

Yet, various other factors also contribute to shaping our purchasing decisions. Our idea of quality matters. We often think famous brands are better, even if that’s not always true. Our budget impacts what we purchase, yet being seen as high-status remains important. Throughout history, status has been essential for making us feel good and assuring safety.

From a neurological standpoint, we’re inclined to purchase something that feels familiar or brings joy. Our brains prefer things that are easy to understand and evoke positive emotions. Brands that create positive associations remain in our memory, prompting us to repurchase them. This pushes brands to offer enjoyable experiences, which triggers the release of dopamine in our brains, making us want to choose them over and over.

Identifying the factors that shape our buying patterns also sheds light on the various methods brands can use to influence them.

So… how can brands help shape sustainable habits?

Brands can position themselves to motivate and influence consumers to make eco-friendly choices. Most people, regardless of personal preferences, care about the future of the environment to some extent. Brands can build trust and credibility, ultimately conveying the importance of the environment, by telling stories that illustrate the benefits of sustainable decisions and by being transparent about the origins of their products and their efforts to be more eco-friendly.

By making green choices a symbol of status, brands highlight the importance of caring for the environment, while still emphasizing their commitment to customers and shared values. Such emphasis can ignite a deeper sense of urgency and responsibility, compelling consumers and institutions alike to prioritize sustainable practices for the well-being of those living today and those who will come tomorrow.

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