|A brand design has an impact on the decision making process (i.e., value judgment), and ultimately, it influences consumer choices|
We often get attracted by products from more preferred as opposed to less preferred brands. Why is that? The answer lies in the brand designs of products. Designing a brand and a product that appeals to us is therefore one of the biggest concerns of companies that seek to increase their sales. Branding is not only a matter of design, it is everything that we associate with a product such as functionality, quality and design. The way, in which branding influences us, is discussed here.
Philiastides & Ratcliff (2013) suggest that branding has an impact on the decision-making process. Thus, it influences preference-based judgments, and certain brain areas (e.g., prefrontal cortex, striatum, midbrain, and hippocampus) may even be sensitive to these types of value judgments. Whether we value a product may depend on the product, and our general values. Thus, some products may be valued more than others.
The question is now, at what stage of sensory processing does value judgment occur? A study by Philiastides & Ratcliff (2013) found that value judgments occur at a rather late stage of sensory processing in a so-called top-down process. A top-down process implies that we form our perception starting from the general (e.g., values) to the specific (e.g., a product). Therefore, branding may not affect early-sensory processing. This fact is of great importance because then branding seems to be a matter of values. Value-based judgments involve a comparison between products' values. Each product has a value, which has been accumulated over time, and this value is represented in a "decision boundary", which influences our decision-making process.
Whenever we compare products, we compare the value of each product. The authors suggest that branding may influence the comparison process by introducing a drift bias toward more preferred brands. This bias may then affect the decision-making process, since it makes us more likely to be attracted by the products that are preferred the most. This bias is reinforced by the fact that we pay more attention (at the neural level) to the products that we get attracted to through a process of visual fixation.
We constantly make quick decisions about the values of competing products. The competition of products are extensive, and this makes it more difficult to distinguish product from other (similar) products. Therefore, creating a unique brand should be a part of every marketing strategy, since it is necessary to attract consumers efficiently: "(...) it is not sufficient for companies to try to attract consumers with price promotions, good customer support, or product-specific technical requirements (e.g., updates). Instead, companies should place special emphasis on brand design and awareness and strive to promote strong affective associations with their brand among customers to develop and maintain a competitive advantage." (Philiastides & Ratcliff, 2013, p.7).
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