Phil Gendall on branding

Henry Ford was right when he said that the invention of mass-manufacturing would lead to people having to learn to want more stuff. They sure did. They went on to want so much stuff that we are now pretty well surrounded and immersed — and at the same time we are bombarded with messages about the stuff. What’s that got to do with you and your business?

Your customers live in a world superabundant with products and services, and superabundant with messages about products and services. Where once there was a choice of one sort of car (any colour you like, as long as it’s black) — there are now, well… a lot (40 available in the US, according to Forbes). And the same is true of most other things you can think of, your phone, the beer you drink, your next holiday destination.

So, how does the consumer decide… by applying logic?… rational decision making? Rarely. Human ability to process information is remarkably limited, especially when

under pressure (in the supermarket, for instance). And that’s when sub-cognitive responses take over. It’s no bad thing. If we had to think every decision through we’d struggle to get through breakfast before bed-time. Instead we go with our instincts, trusting what we recognise, and what chimes with our view of ourselves… we buy things that affirm our self-identity.

Of course we take account of price, quality, features and benefits… but the the final choice of what we toss into the trolley, or click, is very often down to a very primal feeling… in a blink we select the one that feels right, the one that’s me, the one that helps me to consolidate my social identity, to communicate my status and aspirations… and, like a tribal scar, to identify me with the culture to which I want to belong.