The Value of Personality Open Ends

Shakespeare once wrote “What is in a name?” If we had to answer him, we’d tell him “if it’s a brand name, it’s everything.” Remember the Cola Wars and the Pepsi Challenge? Baylor University did and in 2004 they did a more scientific taste test using a machine to monitor brain activity. When respondents didn’t know whether they were drinking Coke or Pepsi, they were equally likely to pick Coke or Pepsi as their favorite. For these respondents, the brand name would have been the only differentiator.

However, when they tested two samples, both filled with Coke, respondents preferred the sample that was labeled Coke over the unlabeled sample. They also noticed that the part of the brain that responds to rewards lit up, and other regions involving memory and cognitive control lit as well, when respondents were drinking the labeled Coke. This indicates that the brand name has established itself as a specific identity in the minds of consumers.

Neuro-science can help us identify when consumers are excited, but we still need to talk to people to figure out why. To understand a brand’s essence, we recommend a throwback … we ask respondents to think outside the box and qualitatively describe a brand, product, or retailer as a person. It’s the easiest way to understand the brand’s definition away from the product’s attributes.

We don’t stop there. We’re always sure to probe individual personality attributes to delve into whether the personality of your brand helps create a connection with your customers. We may even probe to tie traits back to the functional or emotional benefits of your brand, creating a laddering effect and figure out what attributes drive the strongest and most meaningful emotional connections.

We think this is the simplest way of communicating in the language of your customer and truly understanding your brand identity.


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