Five Psycho-Sensory Brand-Building Tools

Five Psycho-Sensory Brand-Building Tools

Psychological studies show that more than 80% of human information processing is nonverbal. And neuroscience research tells us that more than 90% of brand purchase decisions happen in the subconscious. Accordingly, if your goal is to build more successful brands, you need to use psycho-sensory brand-building tools rather than relying on the same old mainstream tools.

The following are five psycho-sensory tools that help build stronger, more successful brands.

1.    Projective Depth Interviews

When you use deep psychological techniques with individual representatives from the brand’s target audience you can learn so much more than if you just conducted focus groups or quantitative surveys. Some of the exercises in these depth interviews include:

  • Showing respondents images from a number of different categories and asking them to choose the images that best represent how they think and feel about a given brand
  • Asking respondents to think of a celebrity that best embodies the brand
  • Giving respondents sentences to complete like, “using Brand X for ____ is like using ______ for ______.”
  • Encouraging respondents to tell the story of the most memorable use of Brand X

The specific answers to these and other projective exercises we use are less important than the explanation or rationale respondents provide during the debriefing. This tool is best for identifying marketing and communications insights.

2.    Quantitative Visualization

This tool requires respondents to choose images from galleries to represent either brands or brand attributes. The resulting data can be analyzed through univariate and multivariate techniques to yield insights projectable to the market. The advantage of using this psycho-sensory technique is that image selections are rich in information and offer much finer gradations or nuances than the typical 5- or 7-pt Likert scale responses to a verbal rating question. This sensitive tool is best for assessing how well your brand is delivering on its promise.

3.    Sensory Focusing

In this technique, members of the brand or product development team are directed to experience their and competitor brand(s) or product(s) through other sensory modalities than is typical (usually visual). For example, team members at different times handle the brand without visual or auditory input, relying only on tactile cues. At other times, they only get to hear or smell the brand(s) or product(s). Clearly, application of this tool varies by the category under consideration, but it provides team members with a whole new appreciation and set of dimensions to work with. It is most suited for new brand/product design or brand/product improvement.

4.    Sensory Positioning

A verbal positioning strategy is important and most brand teams develop one. But how does that position translate into visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory senses? More important, how does the brand team ensure that their verbal brand strategy is accurately communicated to their target audience(s) through all appropriate senses? Sensory positioning identifies the sensory cues that the target audience associates with the brand’s attributes. The result is a guide or framework to help creatives develop more effective brand communications and is essential for product design and brand/marketing communications development.

5.    Brand Cascading

We have found that one of the most powerful ways to ensure your brand strategy is brought to life is to cascade the brand throughout the organization as well as strategic partners. But rather than the common approach of conducting simple brand training sessions, our cascading sessions involve brainstorming ideas with staff and strategic partners on how to bring the brand to life in their business functions. The resulting ideas are vetted and implemented as chosen by management with public recognition for selected ideas and best implementation. This approach takes advantage of the simple fact that involvement and ownership create more impact than words and presentations. This tool is especially important for large organizations with multiple offices or locations.

The five psycho-sensory tools mentioned here are proven to build stronger and more successful brands. For more information on how to put these tools or other psycho-sensory branding tools to work for your brand, contact Six Degrees.

Frank Schab
fschab@six-degrees.com

An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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