Why Branding is So Crucial

Why Branding is So Crucial

According to a research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, called “The consumer psychology of brands,” consumers engage with brands on three levels:

1.       Object-centric

2.       Self-centric

3.       Social

On each of these levels of engagement, they use one or more of these 5 processes:

1.       Identifying

2.       Experiencing

3.       Integrating

4.       Signifying

5.       Connecting

They visually represent it like this:

connIn order to fully engage your customers and create a viable long term business, you need to be able to reach them on all three levels and in as many ways as possible.

It’s tempting to fall back on introductory economic theory and the idea that humans are rational creatures, but the fact is that we are not utilitarian. When we talk about brands, we personify them and treat them like human beings. Our purchasing behavior is driven by our “relationship” with the products we buy.

Most of us buy Pepsi or Coke products, not the knock-offs, even though they cost less and taste essentially the same.

You don’t need to be a big brand to succeed, but you do need to be a brand.

Let’s take a look at the processes consumers use to interact with brands.


On the object level, we identify brands by the way they are categorized. If the brand and product match, we’re more likely to buy. This is why large corporations often choose to adopt multiple brands for different product lines.

On the self-centered level, we think about the brand’s identity, and how we expect to be treated. This comes from our associations with the brand that we come across through marketing, word of mouth, and media.

Finally, on the social level, we categorize brands by their differences and similarities. By comparing brands with one another and how they relate to one another, we come to a decision about that brand’s position in the marketplace.


When we experience brands as objects, we think pretty mindlessly and focus on what our five senses tell us about the brand. This is why product developers spend so much time designing products that look and feel nice, and crafting marketing campaigns that appeal to as many senses as possible.

Brand affect considers how we personally feel about brands. This is the emotional connotation that comes with the territory.

Finally, brand participation occurs when consumers feel like active participants who are interacting with the brand and its surrounding culture.


During integration, we combine information to create a summary of our understanding of the brand. This starts with the brand concept, the goal or purpose of the brand and the associated products. On the personal level, integration results in the creation of a “brand personality.” Brand personality is thought of much the same way as human personality. We all expect people to behave differently in different contexts, but if our behavior becomes too different, we instead see hypocrisy.

On the social level, we create “brand relationships.” These relationships tend to be cemented and more difficult to break if they transcend commercial goals. In fact, some research even suggests that people think of “sincere” brands like “friendships” and “exciting” brands like “flings.”


We all recognize brands as symbols, and this can be an interesting way that we interact with them. On the product level, brands can be used to signify value, quality, and consistency. Brands can also become part of our personal identity, a way of telling others or reassuring ourselves who we are. Finally, on the social level, brands can even signify group membership and say something about our place in culture.


Finally, we engage with brands based on the way that they connect. We evaluate products by our attitudes toward them. Attitudes are weak over time but have strong in-the-moment effects.

In contrast, our personal attachment to the brand affects the amount of time and money we will invest.

Finally, we may also connect with other “fans” of the brand, and this can play an important part in our long term relationships with brands.


Like it or not, consumers aren’t rational. Businesses must create brands in order to send clear messages to their consumers, build relationships, and influence sales. While behaviors can change in different contexts, they must create a unified whole.

Consumers don’t love or hate your products. They love or hate your brand.

Original Source: https://www.localsurgemedia.com/branding/why-branding-is-so-crucial

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