Branding Psychology: How Consumer Consciousness Works and How Business Can Use It


5 minutes


It is important for companies, even small ones, to think about creating branding right away, otherwise they may not become a large business. We have already written on the blog of Penguin-team PPC Agency about how to promote a brand using paid search, and today we will talk about how branding works from the point of view of consumer psychology.

To understand whether a company is a brand or not, you need to check the presence of three components:

  1. Knowledge – what do they know about the product?
  2. Experience – what do they say after use?
  3. Differentiation – how is it objectively different from competitors?

If you know the answers to these questions, great, the brand is there. Of course, the work does not end there – your branding needs to be constantly updated – but a start has been made.

Each brand must define for itself:

  • Mission: something big, global, which is worth striving for, since it is practically unattainable;
  • Goals that can definitely be assessed qualitatively / quantitatively;
  • Tasks, the lack of solution of which may interfere with the achievement of goals;
  • Values: the framework that the brand will not go beyond.

The Penguin-team PPC agency’s team took on board the reports of Evgeny Zingerman, Alexey Ivanov and Alena Taranenko (all from the Shadow Agency), which helped to look at some things in a completely new way. We share our notes with you.

How to “pack” a company into a brand – branding creation

The product / company is “packaged” into a brand using a visual and verbal system, as well as PUEX – product user experience.

  1. The visual system as a tool for branding and influencing the psychology of consumer behavior:
    1. logo (when choosing, check how it looks in color and b/w);
    2. permanent features: fonts, colors, composition, illustrations.
logo touch color
logo touch
  1. The verbal system as a tool for branding and influencing the psychology of consumer behavior:
    1. name: check the sound and spelling in different languages with the help of dictionaries, whether it is convenient to pronounce in sentences, whether there will be strange reservations, how often this name occurs, what / who will have to compete with, and so on;
    2. tagline;
    3. role: the image with which one would like to be associated. By analogy with the roles of a person: bestie, teacher, creator, romantic, and so on;
    4. the style of communication with consumers – it will be important to adhere to it in all communications;
    5. key messages and promises to get across to consumers.
  1. PUEX (product user experience). This is the creative manifestation of the brand: content, its story, and so on.

How to Create and Promote Content – Branding Creation

Creation of a brand and constant work on it will help a potential client to make a choice in your favor, and to instill love and loyalty to your company to the existing clients. Now, when a client spends most of their time on the Internet, it is very important how the brand manifests itself there.

Having correctly set up communication, you will not have to spend a lot on advertising, since users are ready to distribute new, interesting, useful, entertaining information themselves free of charge. This is how consumer psychology works.

Through its content, a brand can deliver important messages to its target audience. At the same time, all content should carry the idea of ​​the brand, otherwise it will not work to achieve the goals.

The best marketing trick for consumer psychology is to get people to remember the information – tell them a story, or even make them part of the story.

To achieve the maximum effect in the process of creating communications, you need:

  1. Chose an “enemy” that you want to defeat.
  2. Answer the question, what goal do you want to achieve.
  3. Determine the target audience to which you will address (it is not necessary to generalize and work for everyone).
  4. Determine what needs to be said, what are your evidences and endorsement.
  5. Highlight through which channels you will reach your audience.
  6. Determine the indicators by which the results will be measured.

You can promote your brand and content using the following PESO-model media channels:

  1. Earned media, that is, “won over” / free channels – when consumers themselves are a communication channel: bloggers, influencers, word of mouth.
  2. Shared media – social networks.
  3. Owned media – communication channels controlled by the company: website, blog, social media page.
  4. Paid media – those for the use of which the company pays: paid search, sponsorship, paid posts in social networks, lead generation.

A combination of several channels always gives good results.

Thus, a brand can be not only large corporations such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks, but also small, local businesses, because there are enough free (or at least cheap) opportunities.

How to Build User Habits – Creating Branding

The habit in consumer psychology is a huge competitive advantage over other brands. Creating a habit helps to improve loyalty and trust, increase the customer’s life cycle and its value for the business, grow the value of the brand and the company as a whole.

If the use of the product becomes a habit, the user will contact the company regularly on their own, and the brand will not have to spend a lot of effort on advertising.

Marketers Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover in their book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products describes a sequence of four elements that will help companies “catch” users:


#1. A trigger in the psychology of consumer behavior it’s what makes them take action, learn and use the product.

There are two types:

  • External: tips in advertising, calls to action, bright buttons on banners, positive reviews in the media, viral videos, advice from friends;
  • Internal: when it has more to do with emotion. This is exactly what brands need to strive for – to make internal incentives and habits appear.

No. 2. Action in the psychology of consumer behavior. It is a person’s step to use a product. For example, clicking on a banner or button in an email, buying / downloading a trial version, calling a manager, or ordering a call back.

No. 3. Variable reward in the psychology of consumer behavior. This is solving the user’s problem and creating motivation to use the product once again.

No. 4. Investment in the psychology of consumer behavior. What the user invests in using the product: time, money, personal data, effort, social capital.

This is the element that makes it go back and loop over again:

trigger → action → variable reward → investment

Habit building should be a brand strategy. Of course, this applies to those companies with constantly usable products: toothpaste, cosmetics, applications on mobile, a website for comparing prices for goods, and so on. With the sale of cars, such a move will not work.

Plus, the product itself should be valuable to the user – enjoyment or reduction of discomfort.

Consumer Habit Psychology – Branding Creation

“Are you making a vitamin or a painkillers?” Is the first question to ask yourself when creating a product.

Painkiller is a real solution to real problems, reducing discomfort, covering urgent needs. It is the relief of the consumer’s specific pain.

Vitamins, in turn, do not solve a specific problem, but rather satisfy emotional needs.

“Painkillers” can quickly induce a habit, while “vitamins” can be used irregularly, from time to time.

Often, a new product initially becomes a “vitamin” (pleasant, satisfying a specific need, optional), and then develops into a painkiller (after developing a habit).

It is a good idea to ask yourself the question, “What problem would I like someone to solve for me?” This can lead to ideas about the really necessary products that will be useful to users and can reduce not only your pain, but also someone else’s pain.

Having created a product, you need to do everything to make it easy for users to use it. Since habitual actions are characterized by “thoughtless” execution, it is possible to derive a rule in the psychology of consumer behavior:

The more effort it takes to use, the less likely it is to have an action performed and a habit created.

Frequent use of the product ensures rapid viral growth – increasing the customer base by inviting one user to another. The most important factor in this growth is the length of the viral cycle. This is the time it takes for the user to invite another, share product information, etc. The short viral cycle and frequent use of the product allowed Facebook to beat MySpace and Friendster at the time.

Since habits do not arise on their own, but are developed, they need a base, a foundation of their own, on which they will appear. The trigger is such a basis and stimulus. The purpose of external triggers is to draw the user into the cycle / model described above, make them to go through all the steps and repeat them until the habit is developed. At this point, external stimuli cease to be needed and internal triggers come to replace.

Internal triggers are most often emotions: boredom, loneliness, desire to have fun, fear. Therefore, it is important to initially understand what emotion the product should cause, what trigger should cause the desire to use it.

Often, five “why” questions are enough to identify the trigger that contributes to the development of the habit. It is necessary to present a portrait of the user and ask the question: “Why would X want to use our product?” The answer needs to be asked again the question “Why / for what?” – and so on 4 times, deepening more and more. Most likely, the last answer will be the internal trigger emotion.

The action that follows the trigger is important for habit formation. As already mentioned, the simpler the action, the better.

N. Eyal’s book describes 6 elements of simplicity:

  1. Time: how much it takes to complete the action.
  2. Money: the financial cost of performing an action.
  3. Physical effort: what it takes to perform an action.
  4. Mental Effort: the mental exertion and focus required to perform an action.
  5. Social acceptability: how much the public approves of this action.
  6. Uncommonness: the degree to which an action corresponds to a habitual behavior.

It depends on how simple and valuable the action is to the user whether he moves to the next stage or not.

The variable reward should satisfy users and encourage them to use the product again. This can be the approval of society, the receipt of some gratification (material or information), internal reward (that they were able to cope with the task, pass the level of the game.

The next stage is investment. The more time and effort people invest in a product, the more they value it. Unlike action, this stage involves future rewards. The investment follows precisely variable reward, when users are willing to give something in return.

Examples: spend time setting up, entering data about yourself, inviting friends, learning how to use. Pay for upgrading to a new version, updating your account. It is assumed that after this application of effort, the use of the product will bring more pleasure, it will be better, the person will receive more rewards in the future.

If you manage to guide the user through all these steps, there is a chance to gain loyal customers and form a habit of using your brand.

What do you think, an interesting model? Write your opinion.

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