Are you still trying to communicate your brand’s strength only with words?

Asami Usuda
Director, Brand & Communication
Brand Guidace Lead, Japan

“If you make something good, it will sell” no longer holds true in today’s society. This has become apparent both anecdotally and in advertising and branding research. One clue to understand why this is so can be found in the world of neuroscience. As first explained by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, our brain has two systems for thinking: System 1, which is responsible for quick, intuitive judgments; and System 2, which governs logical thinking and moves more slowly. As logical thinking requires effort, our brain tries its best to auto-drive and save energy: this means that as much as 95 percent of our judgments are made in System 1. In other words, the human brain uses its logical consciousness to assess new and unfamiliar things, but once it gets used to these things, it makes judgments automatically and in a reflexive manner. In Japan, most product categories have reached an advanced stage of maturity, which means that consumers have also reached an advanced stage of familiarity with the brands on offer. Consumers therefore no longer compare product specs in detail to make a choice. Instead, their choices have become automatic. It is increasingly important, then, that advertising and branding in Japan is geared toward influencing this automatic choice process. Brand building activities should not only address the levels of information that consumers are conscious of analyzing. We should also seek to better understand how visual and audio cues, as well as subconscious symbolism, can shape intuitive judgments in consumers’ brains, and shape our efforts around those cues. That, I believe, is a key to growth.