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Does Branding Really Influence Behavior?

I think you’d agree that we live in an information-overloaded society. What you may not be aware of is the extent of the overload.

William C. Taylor wrote an article – “Permission Marketing” – for the magazine Fast Company and told readers, “This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day.” When I share that quote with audiences they’re astounded. When I tell them the quote is now 17 years old they’re blown away! That’s right, the estimate in 1998 was that you were bombarded with about 3,000 marketing messages each day. More recently a New York Times article – “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad” – put the number at 5,000 a day!

With so much information assaulting our senses each day it begs the question, does branding really influence behavior? You might be surprised that it does in a big way.

I recently read Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley and was particularly interested in the brain science on the age old Coke versus Pepsi debate. Many times over, in blind taste tests people preferred Pepsi…even Coke drinkers quite often preferred Pepsi. However, when people knew which brand they were drinking that changed. Dooley wrote:

“When the subjects saw which brand they were drinking, though, nearly all of the subjects said they preferred Coke. Significantly, the subjects’ brain activity changed as well.”

Did you catch that last sentence? They didn’t just say they preferred Coke, their brains actually preferred it! What we think about brands actually changes how we experience the product or service! Here are a few examples of incredibly strong brands:

  • Southwest Airlines – Despite the “cattle call” for seating, people love to be “free to roam about the country.” Passengers’ passion has resulted in 42 consecutive years ofprofitability for Southwest in an industry that’s struggled mightily to achieve profits.
  • Apple – Apple consumers are religious in their zeal for the brand making it the most profitable company in the world in 2014. Other phones may have better features at times but it’s nearly impossible to get Apple lovers to make a switch.
  • Harley Davidson – If people are willing to tattoo your company logo on their body you know you have a good thing going! I remember hearing someone say, “I can accept the fact that someday I might die and my wife may remarry. What I can’t accept is another man riding my Harley.”
  • Starbucks – The coffee giant transformed coffee drinking and doesn’t even advertise. That’s because their customers do it for them. The familiar Starbucks logo on the cup is all they need to spread the word and you probably see it more than you realize each day.

Of course very few brands have the cache of Coke, Southwest, Apple, Harley Davidson, Starbucks or many other successful brands. But, the science shows that a strong brand impacts people’s brain activity resulting in behavior changes even when people are not aware of it.

So what does this mean for you? You’re probably not competing on the scale of the aforementioned companies but what current and potential customers think of you and your company matters.

Each of us can brand ourselves to a great degree. Here are several ideas based on some things I do.

If you call my office you’ll hear this at the start of my voicemail message – “Wouldn’t you agree that much of your professional success and personal happiness depends on getting others to say ‘yes’ to you? Ask me about The Principles of Persuasion Workshop where you’ll learn to hear ‘yes’ more often.” People ask about the workshop and I’ve had compliments on my voicemail.

My email autosignature always has my branding message at the bottom – Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes.” Again, it’s not uncommon to get a comment but what’s more important is people see the message and even if it doesn’t consciously register it impacts their brain.

I wear shirts with the Influence PEOPLE logo prominently displayed. When people ask about it I have a platform to share what I do. Nobody can sell me better than me and nobody can sell you better than you.

Does it work? Absolutely! Before starting Influence PEOPLE my personal brand was – When it needs to be done well. That was on my email and voicemail and I regularly had people say, or write, “I need something done well so I thought I’d contact you.” When someone repeats your branding slogan back to you it’s working! I’ll never forget the first time I met Gerald Ladner, a State Auto regional vice president at the time. His first words to me as he shook my hand and let out a laugh were, “I have to meet the guy who advertises he’ll do it well!”

Make no mistake; a catchy slogan won’t make up for a poor product or service. However, when the differences between you and a competitor are seemingly small, when people don’t always know why they do what they do, a well-crafted, consistent brand can be the difference in choosing you over the competitor. I encourage you to give it serious thought because as we approach the New Year, there’s no better time to make a change than now.

PEOPLE – Persuasion Can Have a Lasting Impact

Influence PEOPLE – Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. Can persuasion really have a Lasting impact on the people we interact with? We’ll explore this aspect of influence this week.
I’d like to start with a personal story. When I was in college I was really into weightlifting. I was the president of the Miami University Weightlifting Club and had aspirations of owning my own gym one day. I was competing in power lifting during college and after graduation I competed in bodybuilding for a several years. I loved the gym and hated running because I thought running only burned calories I could be using to get bigger and stronger.

To me the gym was fun because there were different exercises on different days, I was surrounded by friends and meeting new people all the time, and of course there was great music blasting to fire
you up. Compared to that, I thought running was lonely and boring.
I share this with you so you’ll understand my reluctance to an idea put out by my friend Jud Beachler, the owner of The Yoga Factory. More than a dozen years ago Jud tried to persuade several friends we could run the Columbus Marathon. I wanted no part of it but gave in when my wife Jane kept on me about trying it.
I’m proof that people do change because I fell in love with running! All of a sudden I started to train, not just jog. I began racing in 10Ks and half marathons and eventually ran six marathons. Even though
I don’t race anymore I still try to get four to six miles in during the morning most days of the week.
I share this as an example of a lasting change. Jud never had to persuade me again to train or race. Once I got involved, my self-perception changed and I saw myself as a runner. From there it was only natural to do what runners do. Today, if given the choice between lifting or running I’ll choose running every time.
Not all of your attempts at persuasion will
have a lasting change like Jud’s did with me but sometimes they do. Here are just a few examples where the principle of consistency can be used to change personal perception:
  • A coworker isn’t putting forth much effort but you see their potential and “label” them as having outstanding potential. All of a sudden they begin to live up to that potential because they don’t want to disappoint you or themselves.
  • You share with someone about a good cause which leads to them signing a petition and making a small donation. They look into the cause more and become an advocate. Before you know it they’re
    volunteering and regularly donating without any prompting from you.
  • You’re a salesperson who finally made a small sale to a potentially large client. Now that your foot is in the door you’re a supplier and the new entity is no longer a prospect, rather they’re a client. As a client they behave differently towards you without much persuading on your
    part.

In sales we often talk about not just wanting
customers, we want fans. Fans love their teams, root for them and find
themselves talking about the team well after the game. Here are some businesses
that have fans, not customers:

  • How likely is it that Harley Davidson owners with a Harley tattoo will be shopping around when they decide it’s time for a new bike? About zero!
  • Owners of Apple products are committed because they have cell phones, iPads and Mac Books. Not too easy to switch when you’re that committed but most wouldn’t switch even if it was easy because they love their Apple products.
  • Pepsi and Coke drinkers both fall into the fan category. It’s nearly impossible to get them to switch … even when they say the other drink tastes better in blind taste tests!

It’s a beautiful thing when someone’s self-perception changes and the behavior change takes on a life of its own
because it frees you from having to continue to persuade the individual. Lasting changes like this allow you to move on to the rest of life’s issues that are demanding your time and attention.

I hope you’ll join me next week as we conclude this series when we look at the “E” in PEOPLE which stands for the Ethical. We will explore the question of ethics in your attempts to persuade other people.
Brian, CMCT
influencepeople 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.