Limbic Branding

What fascinates me most about building brands in business markets is the psychology and sociology involved.  I’ve recently read a couple of books by Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, Primal Leadership) that got me thinking about yet one more psycho-social component of business brand development. We know from the brand equity research we’ve done that attributes related to “relationships” are often key contributors to business brands’ overall equity. It follows that direct human interaction with individuals from the “brand” organization happens ALL THE TIME.

This adds a whole new dimension to the role of emotions in business-to-business brand development, especially if you believe it when Goleman says:

• Our emotions are part of our limbic system
• Our limbic system is an “open loop” system that picks up on signals from others around us
• Human interactions can have an impact on our physiology as well as our emotions
• People interacting “catch” feelings and moods from one another such that at the end of just a 15-minute conversation, their physiological profiles (e.g., heart rate, breathing) “mirror” one another’s.

Both reason and emotion are required for decision-making. If we believe the brand lives in the mind of the target audience, and if human interactions create physiological/emotional reactions, then these human-to-human touchpoints are enormously critical to brand development and management. Sales, service, tech support, accounting, HR… each interaction is provoking some form of a physical/emotional experience with the audience of influencers and decision-makers. These powerful interactions are either reinforcing the intended brand strategy and communications investment or they’re sabotaging it.

What is the “vibe” being sent by the people in your organization?  What “vibe(s)” should be sent?

Judy Begehr
Senior Vice President – Brand Consulting, North America