Why Consumers Choose One Brand Over Another

In his book, Branding with Brains: The science of getting customers to choose your company, Tjaco Walvis from the Netherlands formulated what he calls the ‘algorithm in the brain’ that makes the brand choices, in much the same way Google uses an algorithm to search the Web. This brain algorithm has three criteria that guide consumer choices of one brand over another. These are:

1. Relevance. The more distinctive and uniquely relevant a product or service is, the greater the chance it will be chosen by the customer. Relevant brands are better linked to the dopamine, or reward, system in the brain (part of the limbic systems), which strongly influences our behavior.

2. Coherence. The more coordinated the branding efforts are over time and space, the greater the chance the brand will be chosen. Coherent branding means repeating the same message over the years and across all customer touch-points. This makes it easier for the brain to retrieve the brand and make it a winner in competition with others.

3. Participation. The more interactive the branding environment created for customers is, the more likely it is that the brand will be selected by the brain’s algorithm. The brain forms numerous new cell connections in response to interactive environment, improving the memorability of a brand.

As an example, Tjaco Walvis notes that the Adidas brand’s long-lasting campaign ‘Impossible is nothing’ demonstrates how all these factors come together to create an extraordinarily attractive and successful brand that many customers choose over competitors such as, for instance, Nike. He also shows these factors succeed in avoiding a number of traps. Distinctive relevance avoids the ‘identity loss trap’, coherence avoids the ‘authenticity trap’ and participation avoids the ‘brand dilution trap’.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Thomas Gad, excerpted from his book Customer Experience Branding, with permission from Kogan Page publishing.

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