More has been written about branding in recent years than any other marketing subject. Even the accountants have got in on the act with models for evaluating brand value. And what’s beyond doubt is that the value of a brand can contribute as much as 70% to a company’s market value. But that leaves us with the more difficult question of why? Why are brands so powerful that even the money men have to accept their irrefutable value?

Thanks to the work done by neuroscientists in recent years answers have started to emerge. Evidence from brain imaging work (MRI) has revealed that there isn’t a single place in the brain where brand identities are processed. Brands that we like create activity in the area of the brain where we form self-esteem and the idea of who we are. Which suggests our favourite brands play an important role in the way we see ourselves. Our familiarity with a brand identity determines which part of the brain thinks about it when we see it. Strong brands tend to trigger activity in the part of the brain associated with positive emotions and reward, whereas unknown brands activate areas of the brain associated with negative emotions. Perhaps the most significant finding is that well-liked brands trigger responses in the same brain areas where human relationships, for example friendships, are processed. Which could well mean that biologically there is very little difference, as far as relationships are concerned, between two humans and a human and a brand.


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