Branding: it’s not rocket science. It’s brain science.

Humans are funny creatures. We like to think that we are practical and rational when it comes to our decisions. But the fact is that we are ruled by our emotions. We all agree, right? Okay, there may be a few of you analytical types out there who are saying, “Wait a minute, where’s the proof?” Even if you're among those who agree, you should read on. Because you may be faced with a non-believer in the future, like a boss, a client, or a funder. And it’s nice to have something to defend your rationale to invest in your brand besides, “My gut tells me...” or, "It just feels right."

How our brains work

The reason branding is powerful is that it appeals to the part of our brain that is responsible for feeling. Surprisingly, it’s also the part of the brain that is responsible for decision making.

People are going to make decisions with their emotions. Even after going through a very rational process. We are all wired this way. And honestly, it makes sense. Let me illustrate.

Telling the world what you do is a rational approach. It appeals to the neocortex or the portion of the brain responsible for analytic thought and language. For example, a rational message for a bank is, “We help people manage their money through checking, savings, and lending.” That’s what they do.

Telling the world why you do what you do is an emotional approach. It appeals to the limbic region – again, it is the portion of the brain responsible for feeling and decision making. An emotional message for a bank is, “We make it simple for people to have more control over their money so they have less anxiety in their lives and can make more confident decisions."

The emotional message packs more of a wallop by allowing us to connect with the larger purpose behind your efforts. Great brands understand this and deliver an emotional message to prospects and customers.

It’s brain science

I can hear the analytical types out there are saying, “That’s a very nice example you gave, but I still need proof.” Fair enough. We can look to the field of neuroscience to find an increasing body of work around the emotional and rational parts of our brains.

I would particularly emphasize the work of University of Southern California Professor of Neuroscience Antonio Damasio. Additionally, the work of behavioral economists has begun to challenge the long-held belief that human rationality prevails in modern economic theory. In short, behavioral economists such as Dan Ariely and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman are building understanding that our decisions aren’t as rationally-driven as was once thought.

Check out the work of these experts. It doesn’t take much investigation for our rational-leaning, analytical friends to find plenty of scientific work to support the business value of appealing to the emotional side of our prospects’ brains.