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Understanding brain chemistry for smarter branding

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Understanding brain chemistry for smarter branding

The INS-organised seminar on the intricacies of the human brain and the resulting consequences on media consumption, brand recall and consumer behaviour, was an eye-opener of sorts. The seminar, dedicated to the cause of sharing neuroscientist-turned-media researcher Noel Coburn’s views on the expanse called the human mind, addressed all aspects related to advertising, media and marketing and phased-out common trends from the world over.

Said Noel Coburn on the occasion, “Brain research has been growing in popularity the world over. For instance, Financial Times recently carried a full-page dedicated as, ‘Probe inside the human mind’ and the Economist did a comprehensive piece titled ‘Inside the mind of a consumer.’ The fact remains that electrical impulses that guide the proceedings in your brain, are crucial to media consumption, advertising effectiveness, brand recall and product consumption. Brand salience is the propensity of a brand to be thought of or noticed in buying situations and it is found, that the mind is divided into conscious and sub-conscious components, out of which 95% of all the purchasing decisions are made sub consciously.”

Coburn adds, “Brand salience is what most marketers strive to achieve but in order to achieve the same, we ought to capitalise on the conscious and sub conscious divide. We also need to understand more than we currently do and must recognise that advertising must have physical outcomes on the brain. Brain science is evidently going to give new insights. The brain is what handles your marketing in public and it is a physical device.”

Coburn pinpoints the case study of Pepsi versus Coke in the 1980’s. He asserts, “The brain often pervades over all the other senses, be it sight, smell, hearing ability etc. In a random test between two liquids poured in separate glasses, consumers asserted that the taste of Pepsi, was better than Coke. In another study, when consumers were made aware of the names of the brands, they preferred Coke to Pepsi. This shows that the popularity of a brand could have much to do with its name or heritage than anything else. A network of electrical impulses that actually guide your purchase decisions, irrespective of brand attributes and other qualities.”

He concludes, “The brain is indeed a magical organ, creating as it does our rich, sensation-filled lives from the most prosaic material. Consider the evocative world of smell; the heady aroma of fresh coffee, the floral delight of a favourite perfume, the sickly sweet odour of decay – none of these smells exists as such. But as molecules from each source drift into our noses, they are caught and held in specialised receptor sites and "measured". This information is then relayed to our brains, which then, through a cascade of neuro-chemical processes, create the sensation we experience as smell. The colour-filled world that we see doesn’t exist, it s created by our brains. Which shows, how crucial it is to understand the processes of the brain when it comes to world of marketing and brand communication.”

Coburn sums it up on the same note that he started off with. In other words Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Everything should be made as simple as possible. But no simpler than that.”


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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.