What is unconscious branding and should marketers take it more seriously?

With any business branding is as essential as the product or service being offered itself. Without a brand, there is no connection to be made with the audience and therefore potential customers.

In order to market your brand, you need to identify the audience and tailor the brand to make it seem appealing. This is achieved through association with certain values and characteristics, that link it to certain lifestyles through stereotypes. This is often achieved through public advert campaigns seen across a variety of platforms such as radio, TV and the Web.

However, is there an alternative brand marketing approach?

Unconscious branding was introduced by Douglas Van Praet, the ideology was developed when he applied neuroscience intelligence to the modern day marketer and consumer relationship. The theory suggests that consumers make the vast majority of decisions in their life unconsciously. These decisions are altered by images and messages they are unaware that they have processed, leading to the name unconscious branding.

When applied to marketing, it suggests that businesses are able to influence consumers through subliminal messaging. Brands can embed their name, logo or imagery within messages to increase exposure to consumer audiences. It is suggested that this could potentially have a more impactful impression than the generic paid marketing. Ultimately because brand impressions count, no matter how little.

Whilst a controversial concept, it still deserves some recognition. Any method that enables a business to potentially reach new audiences should be given consideration.

Straight forward marketing is not always successful. In an advert saturated society, as an audience we are constantly trying to escape the overwhelming amount of adverts presented to us. Therefore, unconscious branding provides the marketers a way evades this reaction. How can we avoid something we don’t even know we are seeing?

Another benefit of unconscious branding is that any size company can use it. Whilst the big brands like Coca-Cola and Samsung can afford prime time TV advert slots, such as X-Factor, not all businesses can. Small to medium sized businesses can incorporate unconscious branding for a much smaller price and still reach new audiences.

However, unconscious branding faces certain criticism that labels it ethically questionable. How can a marketing approach be accepted into mainstream use if it is reliant on the use of hiding messages from its audience? With a basis of subliminal messaging it prevents it from becoming developing a trustworthy association – which may repel brands and audiences.

Unconscious branding provides a strong case for consideration in the marketing world, as it provides new opportunities for marketers, whilst it is controversial the lure of new untapped audiences seems to outshine the latter. It is hard to imagine a world which unconscious branding would become the mainstream branding approach, but that doesn’t mean it’s use can be ruled out. It is just essential in the approach that when used it should be applied carefully and within ethical boundaries.


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