Brand owners are in danger of being confused by an either/or approach to understanding their brands. Some put all their faith in emotional appeal, others in rational persuasion. But increasingly brand owners realise that they need to understand both. Research currently is not serving them well because rational and emotional/implicit are often looked at in isolation, with clients left in doubt as to the relative importance of each, and what they should do about it.

Research needs to break out of this either/or dichotomy and help brand owners see the whole picture. Binet & Field (2013) demonstrated that brands work at both a System 1 (emotional/implicit) level and a System 2 (rational) level, so looking at either one in isolation misses the point. Our response to this challenge is a multivariate approach called mind modelling that encompasses all rational, implicit and emotional beliefs about a brand and attaches predictive values to each.

It's because so much of our relationship with brands is non-rational that we've developed a suite of tools (Implicix®) that use metaphors, priming and response -time to bring to the surface emotions and implicit beliefs that might otherwise be missed by conventional research.  But these measures are a complement rather than a substitute for classic System 2 measures, and we employ them alongside conventional (rational) research to provide a holistic set of inputs to our Mind Model.

The model is highly granular – allowing marketers to pinpoint the specific attributes that drive behaviour.

  • It quantifies the specific rational and emotional factors that drive brands both in short and long term
  • It predicts their relative importance, providing the granularity you need to ensure you are focused on the right priorities.
  • It sets priorities for evaluating brand communications in tracking and ad testing

We have used the Mind Model across many categories and it is clear that brands are driven by a complex mix of both rational and emotional factors. But real commercial insight comes from knowing their relative contribution, and from identifying the specific attributes that marketers can leverage to make their brand stronger.  The balance between emotional and rational drivers varies quite a bit by category, but we've yet to come across an instance where emotion doesn't explain at least 40% of brand purchasing, or where rational beliefs are irrelevant. The fact is that successful brands are those which address and fulfil both sets of needs, and marketers who look on the choice between emotional and rational as an either/or really are in danger of missing the point!