Brands are rooted in human perception and live in our minds. They are the sum of our perceptions, emotions, beliefs and attitudes, or PEBAs, about a thing, an organization, an activity or a person.
Successful brands like Apple and Starbucks “speak” convincingly to the whole brain. That is, they manage verbal messages AND sensory messages equally effectively.
More than 80 percent of human information processing is nonverbal, yet marketers tend to focus the majority of their effort on verbal messages, often leaving the nonverbal up to their agency as if the nonverbal were mere context, or only there for aesthetic reasons or to grab attention. What’s more, when you ask brand marketers what type of associations they would like to own with their brands, they invariably say “emotional associations.” But more than 90 percent of emotional meaning is conveyed through nonverbal information.
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The key to successful brand-building is to systematically and strategically manage both verbal and sensory messaging. Otherwise, you’re just doing sales and marketing. We have found that the most efficient way to do that is to develop two brand “translation” documents:
A messaging blueprint that articulates the verbal brand story and lays out the primary, secondary and tertiary messages to send to each target audience for the brand. In addition to the hierarchy of messages, the messaging blueprint contains the most effective messaging styles and formats to use for each audience and the supporting evidence that makes each message credible.
A sensory position that identifies, through market research with each of the brand’s target audiences, the visual, auditory, tactile and other sensory cues that automatically and unconsciously trigger the desired brand perceptions from the brand strategy in the target audiences.
These two translation documents enable anyone charged with developing brand communications to create ads, websites, packaging, brochures, etc., to build a stronger, more successful brand by speaking to the whole brain.