• Branding on the Brain


    A classic television ad has everybody’s favorite genius, Albert Einstein, befuddled by a choice between Pepsi and Coke.  After briefly pondering  the near-identical molecular makeup of the two pop brands the physician suddenly snaps to his senses, slaps himself on the head, and chooses Pepsi.

    But what if Albert actually did decide to analyze the choice with the rigorous science he was famous for? He may have come up with something like the now-classic Read Montague experiment , in which brain-scanning FMRI machines measured exactly what was going through participants brains as they drank the two pop brands. Unfortunately for Pepsi, the results showed that most people, despite their preference, are more positively stimulated when they are drinking from something branded with the Coke label. Coca-Cola has taken note. A recent  release reveals that their new marketing and branding campaigns will solely be using tests designed to measure a consumer’s unconscious reactions to stimuli. Various technologies have emerged in the growing field of neuromarketing as well as a wide range of reactions, from the downright cynical to the whole heartedly optimistic. In this Drive Branding article I’ll explore some recent developments and controversies on this exciting topic, and discuss Drive Branding’s stance.


    Affectiva: Reading faces in the Facebook era

    Who Uses it: Coca-Cola, Unilever, Google

    The Scoop: Emoticons never cut the conversational cake.  Too easy to fake.  Of course, webcams didn’t necessarily correct that problem-it doesn’t take a professional actor to put on a poker-face. But what if a technology was able to read the subtle and slight betrayals our faces make that reveal our very first feelings as we watch something in private?

    Affectiva provides that technology, measuring heartbeats and analyzing subtle face movements through a specialized webcam.  Companies like Unilever and Coca-Cola feel that this technology can cut out the hyperbole  understatements and exaggerations that occur during more traditional interview-based marketing studies.


    fMRI: Here to stay or ephemeris?

    Who uses it: Researchers. fMRI tests are considered too expensive for commercial use, though many exciting experiments utilizing brands have been completed by scientists wishing to understand the science behind branding.

    The Scoop: fMRI scans measure blood pressure in the brain to determine what part of the brain is activated when one is experiencing a certain simulation. For example, reading a brand name. Thanks to fMRI scans it has become conclusive that a consumer’s experience something fundamentally different, something more positive, while interacting with a familiar or effective brand. Branding can no longer be seen as a business plan but also as a science with hard-experimentation to back it up.

    The next question to ask is how much more can fMRI scans tell us? One famous neurologist said that trying to find out what goes on in the mind with the data of a fMRI is like trying to find out what exactly is going on in a baseball game by listening to the distant crowd outside of a stadium. Some warn against this technology, others swear by it.

    Telepathy App? E.E.P

    Who uses it: Hyundai, Microsoft, Disney

    The Scoop: Brain-wave reading E.E.P technology opts for the sensing of electrical currents in the scalp over blood pressure to create a real-time map of mental activity. Available as hardware in relatively cheap headsets this technology seems destined to have a future role in the history of branding. Able to measure excitement and concentration these scans can be used while participants view ads or packaging. These tests are used to bypass the “social lies” that participants might make. For example, an advertisement with overt sexuality or a crude joke might interest participants who would rather not admit aloud they were moved by such a display. As expected, there are skeptics. One scientist claims to have hooked the E.E.P machine to a dead salmon and have gotten readings back.  "You could say the salmon liked one brand of peanut butter over another brand. But it was dead."


    Minding the Customer

    When companies seek to read their consumer’s minds they often willfully miss one of the most important thoughts: “Keep out!”

    At Drive Branding honesty and clear communication are values we pride ourselves with.

    We like to keep up on all the latest on Branding science. We read both the prophets and the skeptics. Certain brain-reading tests confirm our belief:  a creative Branding campaign can create a positive, authentic experience that compliments the company or product. Other tests help us understand how the mind perceives certain elements, and if these findings can create a quality brand we are willing to utilize them.

    Our synergetic approach focuses not only on the effects a brand has on an individual mind, but also the communication and dialogue that occurs when two minds (consumer and client) meet.