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Brand Perceptions

The Shift In Shaping Brand Perceptions

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The Shift In Shaping Brand Perceptions

We live in a world of the frame. Especially with over half the world’s countries coming out of a multi-month lockdown, our experiences are limited, contained within the frame. We don’t read about them, we only see them. The thing about the frame is, viewers only see what’s inside the frame. There’s no way of knowing what’s outside the frame, what came before or why the frame is composed the way it is.

Political commentator Bill Whittle observes, “As we spend more and more time experiencing the world through the frame and since the internet has brought the entire world into our homes (but only what’s inside the frame) an interesting phenomenon is happening. We seem to be talking to each other less and instead, we’re watching what each other does.”

This means our language has become visual.

There’s a difference in how the human brain works when it is watching something and when it is reading something. Reading is an active process. It requires the production of an “inner voice” which increases our attention span. When we look at words, we create thoughts about the words we’re reading. We’re actively involved in processing the information.

Watching a video is passive. Videos are processed 60,000 times faster than text and because humans are hard-wired to avoid demanding cognitive loads, it’s no surprise that (as of two years ago) Nielsen was saying the average US adult watches 6 hours of video per day. I’d bet that number has gone up in 2020. That passive nature of video allows us to sit back and form an empathetic connection with what we see. We are more emotionally attached to a video than we are to something we read and that is partly due to a process called mirror-neuron mechanism.

The Mirror In The Frame

As Dr. Liraz Margalit says, “A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires not just when we ourselves perform an action, but also when we watch someone else perform that same action. Our brains mirror what’s unfolding before us as if we were part of the scene, even if we are just sitting passively on the sidelines. So when it comes to mirror neurons, there is no difference between the cinema and real life. This suggests that we could actually be experiencing (in small but significant ways) the pain (and supposedly also the pleasures) of those we witness on screen. This neurological activity makes the spectator much more emotionally involved.”

We are in the midst of a major cultural moment, the explosiveness of it is only made more potent by the trend of moving from reading, which is a logical, reasoning mental activity, to visual, which is a feeling and unreasoning activity. While we need both, we also need to realize that, at this time, we’re heavily leaning toward one side, and that means instability.

How brands shape perception is even more critical now. Every communication needs to be pressure tested for feelings. Every symbol, every message needs to be scrutinized for any possible offense. Some audiences on social media will be looking for inconsistencies in order to drag your brand through the public square, which can materially impact share prices. 

Neurologist Donald Calne sums up the power of emotion for every brand owner, “Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to action.”

With this in mind, be careful. People feel more than they think and it’s easy for things to get out of control fast.

The Blake Project Can Help: Build the right perceptions for your brand in The Brand Positioning Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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