This is your brain on branding


Great branding, advertising, website design or any other type of visual communication can make our brains do funny things.
Rationale can go out of the window, with even the most restrained among us not understanding how they arrived at a decision.

“Why did I buy this?!”

Human emotion and gut feelings have a lot to answer for. We’ve all bought something without thinking and then later on wondered why we ended up buying it.

That’s what branding does to you. It attracts the more primal parts of our brain, making it far easier for the logical part to justify the decision, or even switch off entirely.

So to reach the logical part of the brain you first have to get through the gatekeeper – the primal, ancient parts of our brain. And it all needs to be done before logic has had a chance to kick in.

This is your brain on branding


What happens to our brains and why pick one brand over another?

Humans are visual. Our brains are dedicated to processing visual information.

What happens when we see a brand identity?

  • The signal is transmitted and visual information is sent to be processed to the largest area of the brain, called the cerebrum. It plays key roles in visual processing, differentiating and recognition. This is where brand familiarity is detected

  • Then the signal travels to our Primary Visual Cortex which detects shapes. Here we understand whether a shape is friendly or powerful. So, the way different shapes are presented creates different associations. The same goes for fonts which are just shapes.

  • The Secondary Visual Cortex interprets colours and connects visual experiences with memories. This is why studies have proved colour has a massive impact on marketing. The is where we create associations and decide if we want to connect with what we see

Then our brains associates the visual pattern with other memories. Studies have show it activates parts of the brain where feelings and memories about ourselves are stored. This is why our brains link brands to our own identities.



Obviously it gets more complex, in that over time interactions with a brand build up creating a deeper interpretation. Which is why branding is every single interaction, not just a logo.

Great design provokes illogical decisions

The best creative design understands what makes people tick, whether its branding, website design or other marketing communications. Logic plays the least important role because the brain works on a more primal level.

Design shouldn’t just look visually appealing

It should be psychologically appealing. In our visually cluttered world it isn’t easy to catch people’s interest.
It means creating things that matter to people. And that means tapping into something deeper to create something people instinctively connect with.

So stay in school, and don’t do branding*

*unless you have experts like The Big A doing it for you


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