Science shows that brands dominate over non-brands

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Did you know that a well defined brand that is marketed smartly can drown out most non-branded advertising? There has been studies in neurological marketing research on how stimulus affects the various parts of our brain and thus, dictates why we buy. The study uses many examples, but one in particular caught my eye.

The study took thousands of volunteers from five different countries (U.S.A., England, Germany, Japan, China) as their study group. Each wore electrodes located on specific parts of their head to gather information from the various regions of their brain. The foundation of this particular phase of the research used American Idol as the platform for marketing and advertising effectiveness and what parts of the brain was stimulated to cause a certain reaction. The volunteers were shown a set of logos for a benchmark. All of these companies advertised on American Idol. The scanner identified various parts of the brain when each person viewed the logos. The volunteers were then asked to recall what they remembered. The result of step one was the well known brands didn’t fair better than the non-brands and there was not much emotional distinction. Then they watched a couple of episodes of American Idol. The result was the stronger brands completely drowned out the non-brands. The other phenomenon was the brands that integrated better with the show than other well known brands also out performed their counterparts. The real shocker was that, not only did the better marketed brand stimulated the right portions of the brain the most (positive emotions), it actually caused a negative feeling on the brands and non-brands who didn’t market as well. The winners ended up with a double-whammy. The research scans shown the areas of the brain that controlled negative or fear actually had more activity when the person was confronted with a non-brand. In other words, they felt worst about the non-brand versus the superior branded company.

The research makes it clear that this isn’t mind control. All they were doing was recording how people reacted emotionally because emotions are what activate sections of our brain. Based on the emotion, a particular part of the brain generates more activity. This is why I’ve always said that brand is not about data or surface things, it’s about emotion and what quality you promise to make your customers feel. It’s soul deep. The most profound thing I’ve learned is that a superior brand can adversely affect a non-brand without having to go negative in their message. All they have to do is to be seen next to it. Now that’s brand power.

If you want to learn more, get Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom.

(To clarify a point in the research, Coke won because of their superior brand integration as well as buying spots on American Idol. Cingular came in second with their integration with the phone-in voting. Ford, for example, lost out because they didn’t integrate their brand as well as Coke. The interesting thing is each spent about the same amount of money.)


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

3 Responses to “Science shows that brands dominate over non-brands”

  1. Hi, I don’t usually post feedback on blogs, as I prefer to read only. However I find the article that you’ve written earlier has very insightful data, and I find it very informational. Anyway, I am questioning whether you are open for link trade, as I hope that we can agree on a mutual link exchange agreement. Hope to hear a positive reply from you, and have a great day!

  2. Great insights, Tony! Buy-ology is a very interesting book. Know of any other books that are just as good?

    • Tim– Here are a couple of books that I would recommend: Reimagine by Tom Peters and Why we buy by Pacco Underhill. Both give excellent insights for today’s business climate. – Tony

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