For many years, marketing and advertising have used rationality behind their advertising campaigns. After all, it just makes sense. The reasoning is that if you hit people with enough information about features and give them a cool USP (unique selling point), logic will prevail. The consumer will digest all the facts and data, realize your brand offers exactly what they’re looking for, and make a perfectly rational buying decision. Except erm… no. That’s rarely what happens.
The truth is, humans are not rational. Humans are emotional. We are basically hardwired to process information from a place of emotion. Our decisions are built on emotions, and we use our emotions to carry us to reason, not the other way around. If we were purely rational beings, we would be more like computers. The human mind is a fascinating supercomputer, we are not in fact, machines. We are human, we have human emotions and experiences, and our lives are processed through the lens of our emotional response to stimuli, even when we don’t necessarily realize our feelings are driving our decision-making.
Subconscious Decisions Truly Win
Much of human decision-making is subconscious. Experts tell us we have three levels of attention at which we process information. The first is a high level, where we are actively engaged in the conversation around us. We are “paying attention.” The second is a medium level of attention, where we process information passively while doing something else. For instance, listening to a great podcast while you’re cleaning out your car. The third is a low level of attention, where we process information basically on autopilot. If you’ve ever zoned out while driving and then came back to earth surprised you’d already arrived at your destination, congratulations… you’ve met your lizard brain.
The lizard brain (otherwise known as the amygdala) is the part of our brain that processes emotions. See where we’re going with this one? Emotions trigger behavior, not rational thought. Even more interesting is that we remember emotions long after we remember data or facts. If you’ve ever heard the cliché, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you make them feel,” this is true. People will remember how they felt during an experience long after they’ve forgotten the details.
This is why the best relationships are built using emotional communication, including brand relationships. People respond to emotion, and they respond best when advertisers and brands appeal to their lizard brain. When people process emotional information in a low-level state of attention, it actually impacts them more than processing it from a higher state of attention.
When people aren’t aware of the messages and communication their brain is receiving, it bypasses rational thought and “sticks.” Some experts think this might be because if you aren’t aware of a message, you can’t really argue against it. Whatever the reasoning, emotional messaging delivered to people in a state of low-level awareness simply works. The human brain absorbs it and retains it longer than other forms of communication and attention levels.
So, what does all this mean for you and your brand? How can you use this information to increase the success of your marketing campaigns? We’re glad you asked, but you’ll have to stay tuned for part 2 of this piece. In it, we’ll explore more about using emotions and creativity in your brand campaigns and how it may increase your chances of success.