By Felicia Guthrie
How is it that brands like Coca-Cola have inspired brand loyalty for decades? You may not know it, but psychology plays an important role in why we choose and love the brands that we do. So, how do they use psychology? And, as a small business, how can you use psychology to capture your target audience? Let’s dig into some of the key ways that psychology plays a role in the consumer decision making process.
American psychologist Abraham Maslow created a theory that hypothesizes that all humans are motivated by needs that are broken down into 5 different categories. These categories, from the most basic to our highest needs include, Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem and Self-actualization (see image to the right for more detail).
We’re all motivated to fulfill our basic needs, water and food, rest, shelter, and safety. Once those needs are fulfilled, people will strive to fulfill their other needs. You can use this theory as a way to market your products/services, but first you need to figure out what needs your target audience is trying to fulfill. For example, if you’re in the beauty industry or even an entirely different industry like luxury cars, you could be appealing to consumers’ esteem needs – their desire to feel accomplished and to feel confident. Knowing what needs your product satisfies and where your target market falls on the pyramid can help you create messaging, strategy, and a call to action. Think about what your target audience needs and what they want and then you can begin to determine a strategy that signals how you’ll satisfy consumers needs.
Another way that brands use psychology in their marketing is through emotion. Emotion can be conveyed through story-telling, language and even colour.
Connecting through storytelling
As a brand you may be able to connect with your target audience through storytelling. Creating an engaging, emotional story that resonates with your audience creates an emotional bond. Therefore, when consumers think of your brand, they’ll associate you with how your brands’ story made them feel. Next time you’re creating a strategy consider how you might be able to create a story.
Here are some examples of brands using story-telling to connect with their audience:
These ads tell us a story, they inspire us and evoke emotion, creating a positive emotional connection with the brands.
Emotion can also be conveyed through the use of language. Coca-Cola is a prime example of language expressing a feeling. For a time, Coca-Cola’s tagline was “Open Happiness” and was later changed to “Taste the Feeling” both of which inspire a positive feeling. We want what Coca-Cola offers, we want to quench our thirst and we want to feel happiness, if you think about it, this goes back to our needs as outlined above.
What does your colour story say about you?
Colour has the power to evoke emotions like passion, trust, and happiness and send important emotional signals to our subconscious. If you are an entrepreneur thinking of your branding/logo colour story or a company looking to rebrand, pay close attention to colour.
When choosing colour stories for your brand identity or even marketing campaigns, consider what emotion you want to elicit and what image you want to convey. We’ve created a basic guide that explains how colours can be used in marketing to signal the right messages and emotions.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What message and emotion do I want to convey?
What colours are my competitors or industry leaders using?
For example, the colour blue transmits a feeling of calmness and trust, therefore it is often used by technology and health companies such as NASA and Oral-B.
Get a little bit of social proof
Another way that brands influence consumers is through the theory of social proof, made popular by psychologist Robert Cialdini. Robert found that “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”. What this means is that when consumers are faced with a decision and they are uncertain what to do, they will turn to others. They may turn to celebrities, influencers, or perhaps testimonials and reviews.
Major brands are using social proof to motivate consumers.
Need some examples of Social Proof?
- Influencers: We’ve spoken about influencers quite a bit and, whether you realize it or not, content created by influencers often influences what we buy. We look to them as experts.
- Celebrities: Ever bought something because your favourite celebrity used it?
- Testimonials/Reviews: Many consumers will look for online reviews before making a purchase. Some brands will even label their products if they’ve received special accolades, for example, many beauty and wellness brands will use the “Allure Best of Beauty” award sticker on their product packaging. This signals that others use the product and love it, so we might love it as well!
Now that you have an idea of how closely marketing and psychology work together, consider how you can resonate more deeply with your consumers. Of course, if you need help getting on the right track, give us a call or send us an email.