The Neuromatrix, or why people need brands

Blindsight - by Johnson and Ghuman
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We know brands (or rather the companies they represent) need people, but what can brands do FOR people?

The book didn’t call it the Neuromatrix, but I think it sounds cool. “Our brain is constantly modelling the full experience of reality itself, in all of its complexity and detail.” p.13

“The gap between objective reality and subjective perception is the marketer’s playground.” p.18

There’s a difference between the real, objective world, and the world we perceive. We can’t experience the world as it is – we instead experience our internal description of the world, which we create by whatever ancient mechanisms, but don’t control. This difference presents an opportunity for brands to not only influence conscious thought or vague perceptions, but actually affect the experienced reality of someone.

I’m guessing it would take a bit to get it right, and we’d like to think we’re not that gullible, but as evidenced in this book, it happens all the time. One clear example is that when aware of the brand, 80% of blind tasters chose coke over Pepsi; But when unaware, Pepsi won out. Interestingly, the part of the brain that was activated for coke drinkers was “where semantic and emotional associations live” (p.28). So while we’d like to think we can’t be that influenced, there’s a spot in our brains that disagrees.

While brand strategists have their own (differing) definition of branding, neuroscientists have described it as “the process of repeatedly exposing an audience to a constant message that a company wants their product to elicit.” Pretty specific. We are literally being branded, in the oldest sense of the world, by companies like Coke.

A similar experiment was done with Red Bull, showing that respondents would behave according to brand associations (having wings … aka riskier). This is the placebo effect, which is a real thing in medicine. A sugar pill will often work just as well as medicine (p.32).

I find this interesting because in helping customers achieve their desired future state, the brand and messaging may be as important as an actual product. The customer finds brands that give them permission to be, feel or think a certain way, which alters their reality for the better (hopefully). The brand becomes associated with this change for the customer.

If only we could do that shit ourselves. I could have bought a Dell to write this post.

The subjective model our brain creates for us to live in is a combination of sense experience and existing beliefs (p.33). This seems to be a very powerful and real phenomenon that not many people really appreciate. It reminds me of the supposed power of positive affirmations. Can we convince ourselves and change our own reality? Not always and I guess this is why we sometimes need the external help. We might need brands in order to change our realities in the way we want. As a brand – there are literally people who need your help – beyond the function you provide. Just by having a message.

If that doesn’t underscore the importance of branding, nothing will.

Am I too different because I’ve bought too many Apple products? Do I just need to buy a Dell and skip the ADHD assessment?

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