This is your brain. This is your brain on brands.

Mri Wow. 

Just stumbled upon a WSJ article from 11-28 of this year that talks about new research that suggests that  brands can stimulate the  the human brain.  When shown the well known brand, there was a strong pattern of activity in the part of the brain associated with positive emotions, self-identification and rewards.  The lesser known brand "provoked activity in the parts of the brain associated with negative emotion and memory — suggesting that the brain has to work for a response."

The use of MRI technology to track responses eliminates the risk of dishonest or incomplete answers according to the researcher, who did this test as an add-on to a more traditional research project.

Cool eh?

Tip of the hat to David Wolfe over at Ageless Marketing for spotting the article and writing about it the day it hit the paper.  He has some very pointed and valid things to say about those in the marketing world who suggest that because of new age of one-to-one marketing, branding is dead. 

You of course, already know that’s a load of garbage.  As marketing grows more intimate and closer to the consumer — branding becomes even more vital to doing business today.  Any stranger can shout at you.  You sure don’t let just anyone whisper in your ear.  Branding matters.

Just in case the WSJ decides to take down the free posting of the article…you can download the PDF here.  Download 112806wsj.pdf

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6 comments on “This is your brain. This is your brain on brands.

  1. Hi Drew,

    What an utter pack of nonsense to consider branding passe. You make the valid point that branding is vital to business and even more to a one-on-one venture. To discredit branding is to discredit all specialization.


  2. Hey Carolyn,

    You’re right of course. Specialization is here to stay. And with printing on demand and the proliferation of instant content (i.e. blogs) it’s only going to swell to even a larger presence.

    Which means branding must also grow, to help consumers sort out their choices.

    But, according to Wolfe, this utter nonsense as you so aptly called it was offered by Don Pepper and Martha Rogers. The battle of the experts, perhaps?


  3. Doug Karr says:

    As the long tail of brands becomes longer and the life of a brand becomes shorter, I think it’s going to become more and more difficult to develop an emotional connection with a brand. That’s unfortunate.

    It’s only my opinion, but I do believe building a brand in the future will depend less on the marketer and more on the consumer. Companies will be forced to manage their ‘brand’ through great products and happy customers… not fancy brand management.


  4. Mark True says:


    The non-scientist in me (as if there were also a scientist in me) realizes this makes perfect sense: great brands are based on understanding and memories…positive, meaningful, relevent memories that stick with us. They gotta be stored up somewhere!

    Doug…I’d respectfully disagree that emotional connections will be more difficult in the future. As long as organizations own their brand – use it to drive every decision and build their business on a strong brand foundation – I believe the emotional connections will thrive. Consumer-generated media options available will be quicker, easier and less expensive than “fancy brand management.” That’s so old-school. 😉 The trick will be finding courageous marketers who are willing to put their resources into these new channels.

    If a brand is really different, inviting, relevent and truthful, and everyone in the organization owns it, I envision a long brand life, not a short one.


  5. Doug,

    Thanks for your comments. I think I disagree with you because I agree with you. How’s that.

    I don’t think brands are going to become irrelevant or harder to build. (that’s the disagree part) But that’s because smart branders understand that the power of their brand is to be authentic, find the right fit in terms of consumers and then give them power to the consumer. So, yes it will be (and always should have been) that the consumer drives the effort to spread the brand love. That’s how they get connected in the first place.



  6. Mark,

    I agree. It’s always been about the emotional connection. If you asked anyone to list off the first five brands they can think of — they are going to be brands that say something about us as human beings.

    And like you, when I wrapped my head around the article, I too said…duh, those emotions have to trigger neurons somewhere!

    Truth be told, the only reason I knew to use the word neuron is that my daughter just had a test on it!


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