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INSIDE THE BRAIN: WHAT DETERMINES BRAND CHOICE

INSIDE THE BRAIN: WHAT DETERMINES BRAND CHOICE

By Dr. Constantinos Pantidos

This article reveals remarkable patterns underlying all consumer behaviour and brand choice. It is based on many years of research driven by Neurobiology and establishes, for the first time, the links between the disciplines that study consumer behaviour. Underlying all behaviour exist human dispositions that made us survive and thrive.

Diagram 1: The Pathways of human behaviour, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, page 10

To ensure that we never forget the importance of these life-affirming forces, nature has established an array of systems in our brain and body and made their satisfaction intrinsically gratifying. Our feelings reflect our neural experience. As abundant and varied as our emotions are, they all stem from 12 Fundamental Human Motives, which are triggered by equivalent systems and operations in our brain. Society and culture, far from denying our biological origins, tend to exaggerate them.

Diagram 2: THE WHEEL OF MOTIVES, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, back cover

The entirety of our civilization, social institutions, belief systems, various cultures, great human values such as independence, equality, justice, achievement as well as the way we feel and behave at every moment are all products of our fundamental human motives. They are all attempts to fight decay and to exalt life, becoming themselves in their turn, adaptive mechanisms. When satisfying our fundamental human motives, we are giving our lives biological value.

Diagram 3: THE WHEEL OF MOTIVES™, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, page 391

Leveraging THE WHEEL OF MOTIVES™ to create ideas for brand positioning, communication and creative development has the following advantages:

  1. Brands that satisfy some profound human motive in a unique way become larger than their category, larger than life.
  2. While trends can temporarily generate sales, human motives represent the most solid platform for business development. To be able to leverage trends brands must first get their fundamentals right.
  3. Motives go beyond segmentation and borders, demographics and cultures: the brand becomes personal at scale.
  4. The Brand communication becomes a natural continuation of the functional characteristics of the products or services: It is rooted in the psychological and neurophysiological interface, creating strong predispositions that guide preferences.
  5. The Brand stays clearly and coherently within specific Neuro-biological pathways minimizing communication waste that dilutes the brand’s equity
  6. Each and every communication touchpoint attracts attention viscerally that breaks any clutter further increasing the efficiency of our communication budget.
  7. The brand narratives become absolutely distinctive and impossible to copy.
  8. Our decisions become as objectively scientific as possible.

The methodology has already been leveraged by such companies as Coca-Cola, Unilever, L’Oréal, Johnson-Johnson, Heineken, Philip Morris International etc.

Let us use some examples

Our research indicates that the market share ranking each Brand holds in its product or service category is directly correlated to the level of clarity, coherence over time and depth of embedding our Fundamental Human Motives. The higher the clarity, coherence over time and depth of strategy and executions, the higher the market share the Brand holds in the category.

Successful Brands own primary universal territories in our mind. These might have been originally instigated by the character of their creator, their historic DNA and its evolution, their products, names etc. ending up permeating their culture and communication and being fine-tuned and reinforced by the consumer.

For example, Apple bears the creative, defiant DNA of Steve Jobs. Apple attacked the corporate leader IBM standing for order and control (THINK) through another profound inherent concept in our mind, and eternal life-affirming strategy: that of the creative destruction (THINK DIFFERENT). Here is the neurobiological basis of Apple’s success:

Diagram 4: The neurobiological basis of Apple’s success: Apple’s creative destruction, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, page 420.

As a Brand is a unique entity, not just a combination of separate narratives, Apple had to seamlessly combine the narratives of defiance and creation locating their profound interconnections.

Diagram 5: The profound neurobiological connections between defiance and creation, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, page 421.

Seamlessly integrating the inherent concepts in our mind makes all the difference between a Brand leveraging a rich mental system of associations and a Brand that tries to represent too many things, ending up occupying no clear position in the consumer’s mind.

But in order for the Brand to release in us the very forces of life it is not enough to reproduce them in advertising or even at every consumer touchpoint. The dominant motives driving sales and profit of the product or service category must be germinated through the motive(s) inherent in the Brand.

The profound interrelationships of our motives are employed here to help the Brand’s life forces germinate the relevant motives driving the category, forming a unique answer to what consumers have always wanted. Our Fundamental Human Motives are like bare patterns in any language. An average Brand may gain some transitory attractiveness through creative marketing. Living Brands (Brands that incorporate the very forces of life) infuse the pattern, fertilizing the basic forms, in a very particular way according to their genetic codes.

Here is Apple again, and its masterful expression of the disruptive and creative essence of technology:

Diagram 6: The essence of Apple fertilizing the essence of technology, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, page 423.

Apple is now the status quo. It should have difficulty sustaining its defying/creative positioning. But Apple masterfully, continuously destroys its previous self. For instance, each iPhone is compared to the old one. Apple is a living Brand because it continuously destroys and recreates itself representing a profound and eternal primary life process. The moment Apple betrays its DNA, its decline will start.

Here are some more examples of successful Living Brands: Despite hundreds of new perfume launches each year, Chanel No5 has been the number one perfume in the world since its launch in 1921. No5 is alive because it masterfully expresses the essence of the perfume category:

Diagram 7: The essence of Chanel No 5 fertilizing the essence of perfume, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, page 424.

And here is how ZARA became number one retailer in the world in a relatively short period be taping into the neglected transformational essence of clothing:

Diagram 8: The essence of ZARA fertilizing the essence of clothing, C. Pantidos, Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behaviour and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, page 425.

As a matter of fact, concepts are nothing else than neural structures that allow us to categorize everything around us. Powerful concepts stem from our Fundamental Human Motives and their profound interrelationships reflecting the way the systems in our brain cooperate with each other.

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