Think back to last weekend, and name three things you did. Where did you go? What did you eat or drink? What did you see? Who did you talk to?
Now name three ads you saw, and the brands that made them. If you can, it’s probably because you’re in the business. If you named three, ask your friends or someone in the accounting department and you’ll likely get the same response as most people: a blank stare.
Though most marketers share a common goal: build a relationship with the people you believe will love your brand or product(s) and hope they try it, buy it and advocate for it on your behalf.
Who would have thought the answer to doing that effectively would lie in biology? Well, it’s pretty simple when you break it down.
The human animal, as Simon Sinek notes, is like a machine with systems that are trying to direct us to do things that are in our best interest. And the most basic human desire is to feel like you belong, which creates emotions like happiness, pride, joy, love or fulfillment. These feelings are all chemically produced by endorphins, dopamine, serotonin or oxytocin and are the elemental things that drive motivation. If you haven’t read Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last or watched his TED Talk on the topic, you’re missing out.
People buy products because they think it makes them happy or helps them feel like they belong. It’s why logos are visible on the outside of products. As Sinek notes, “We want people to see the red line on our Prada glasses because it boosts our confidence and gives us a feeling of satisfaction.” Products make us happy as long as our brains need them to. Inevitably, the serotonin-induced rush of “new” fades because we compare what we have to what others have. The feelings of anticipation and excitement we carry about the product at the exact moment of purchase are no longer deemed as necessary by our frontal cortex. Imagine wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time to a party. Exciting, right? Now imagine, two years later, you discover a hole and a frayed lace in that same exact pair. Time for that new shoe feeling once again. We find a product’s limitation as time passes. This is why, according to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, “It’s why we can never buy or accumulate enough to be truly happy.” This is where the power of an experience can be put to great work by the power of a brand.