Conditioning helps create brand preference
Brand preference is created through the psychological phenomenon of "conditioning". Conditioning is a process where people learn a response when given a prompt. In the context of branding, this prompt could be a brand.
In fact, brand preferences arise when brands and emotions are linked. This means that people are conditioned to generate certain emotions in response to the brand. This conditioning between brands and emotions can be created by activating a clear emotion shortly after a brand is displayed.
A brand that has a strong positive emotion is chosen more often
This phenomenon was investigated by Acikalin et al. in 2018. The researchers wanted to know if they could connect emotions and associations to well-known brands in their participants' minds.
However, it was important that participants didn't know the popular brands. To be sure, they chose an interesting group of participants: the rhesus monkeys.
The rhesus monkeys were shown various brands. After the presentation of each brand, they briefly saw an image which did or did not evoke a strong emotion. For example, images evoking strong emotions was an image of a rhesus monkey's genitals or the face of the group's alpha male. In contrast, images that didn't evoke strong emotions was an image of a monkey with a lower group status.
After the formation of these emotional associations, the study entered a second phase.
The monkeys were shown two brands: one which was associated with strong positive emotions and the other wasn't. The monkeys chose the brand that was associated with strong positive emotions more frequently than the other brand. The researchers had succeeded in creating a stronger preference for one brand!
Presenting images which evoke strong emotions ensured that associations and emotions were linked to the brands.
Does this mean we need to present peoples' genitals in ads? No, it also works in a more subtle way, like seeing a beautiful half naked woman, or a self-confidence woman or man, or someone who radiates transparency and honesty. These images are how advertisers activate emotions to create brand preferences.
Always link your brand to a clear emotion
After showing your brand (typically at the end of the ad), convey a message with a clear emotion using images associated with sex, status or self-confidence. The audience will be conditioned to associate your brand with that emotion and develop a preference.
This ensures that your target audience feel the right emotions with your brand; from the nostalgic feeling of Adidas shoes to the exclusive and posh feeling of designer Gucci clothing.