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The Unconscious Side of Things
By Maggie Wright

Neuroscience is proving that most of our decisions are made unconsciously.  It is like we "sleep-walk" through life and many of our decisions are made unconsciously and/or semi-consciously.  

In short, we lead two separate lives.  One is our daily conscious life.  And the other is more like a symbolic life.  It is run by symbols and semi-conscious associations that have been triggered by our conscious existence.  

Drawing this back to branding, the consumer has conscious thought and 'rational reason' for using a product or service.  I believe that the consumer also unconsciously holds symbolic representations of the product or service.  Along with these unconscious symbolic representations, the consumer also has certain semi-conscious associations.  When a brand's message taps into the unconscious symbolic representation as well as the conscious needs, the consumer will feel emotionally connected to that brand.   This is done by tapping the brand's positioning and advertising messages into the specific symbols and associations that the consumer has with the brand's specific product or service.

In other words, when the brand's message taps into BOTH the rational reasons and the semi-conscious symbols and associations that the consumer holds for the product or service, you have a match.  An emotional chord and connection are struck.  The challenge is in researching and coming up with the correct images, words, symbols, associations, and so on that connect these conscious and semi-conscious representations.

Let's go back to the toothpaste example.  As I stated in my earlier BLOG, the simple concept of having white teeth means different things to different consumers.  

Again, some may feel that having white teeth makes them feel sexy...

others may consciously and unconsciously associate it with feeling competent, powerful and strong...

while still others may associate it with feeling squeaky clean and healthy... and still others may have even other associations.  

Let's assume that Brand X's target consumers emotionally associate white teeth with being an outward "marker" or sign to show others that they are super-healthy and squeaky-clean.  Hence, it should direct its marketing and advertising messages to communicate that Brand X toothpaste gives consumers that super-healthy look because it brightens and whitens teeth.  Its messages should tap into the specific symbols and associations that bridge the consumers' conscious and unconscious reasons and emotional associations with having white teeth.  

Small businesses and entrepreneurs... let's work together.  Let's rebuild America!

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