The psychology of branding isn’t a buzz word – it’s the scientific study of how brands can connect to people to leave an impact. 

You don’t have to be a scientist to understand some of the basic principles of the psychology of branding, or how to implement them into your own brand. 

Read on to learn more about the psychology of brand colors, brand loyalty, and how new and small businesses can use the psychology of branding to get more customers.  

What is the psychology of branding? 

The psychology of branding is the study of how consumers relate to brands. This includes how branding can change the mood, attitude, and behavior of people. 

This may sound manipulative, but the ultimate goal of branding is to connect the right people with the right products and services. And the psychology of branding studies how branding achieves this. After all, any decision someone makes starts in the brain. 

One of the most direct ways branding affects how people feel is through the use of color. 

The psychology of colors in branding 

Color psychology refers to the strategic use of color to affect human mood, emotions, and behavior. Colors are so powerful that they can even influence someone’s decision making. 

Colors have deep-rooted associations in our psyche. For example, red is often associated with blood. These associations are really difficult to overcome. So although red can be a very appetizing color, it’s not a very calm color and is therefore not well suited to branding a spa. 

Colors are a fundamental element of a brand and show up in most branded materials like a logo, website, and social media posts. 

Read our blog post on color psychology to learn more about the kinds of feelings and associations each color has. 

It’s important that how you talk about your brand aligns with the colors you use.

Your brand is a promise and consistency is how you deliver 

At its core, a brand is a promise to consumers. Branding lays out expectations to consumers about the value that they are getting when they interact with your business. 

Every touchpoint a consumer has with your brand either realizes your promise, or breaks it. For example, every time you go to Starbucks and get your favorite drink, Starbucks is delivering on their promise. What is that promise? An experience of indulging in a small act of self care by consuming a delicious beverage. 

The key to delivering on your brand promise is to be consistent with your branding. You want to be “saying” – in visuals as well as words – the same promise to your customers every time they come into contact with your brand. 

Brand consistency helps build your brand reputation, and fosters trust with your customers. 

What is the psychology of brand loyalty?

The psychology of branding shows that consumers relate to brands on a personal level, as a person, not a faceless corporation. 

What does this mean? 

When consumers come across a brand, they make assumptions about that brand. These assumptions could be about the price and quality of products and services, or the brand’s beliefs. 

Then, consumers compare these assumptions with their own beliefs and expectations. While this means that people can often disregard a brand pretty quickly, it’s also an incredibly powerful process that makes people loyal to a specific brand. That’s because when you’ve tapped into someone’s concept of self, they feel a sense of belonging. 

That’s why some brands work hard to build a kind of community, and it’s very clear who belongs and who does not. 

An example from Mac and PC

For example, there are some people who use Mac products, and other people who use PC products. In general, you’re either one or the other. And if you’ve started with one, you’re not likely to switch to the other. 

Do you have some stereotypes about who tends to be a Mac user and who tends to be a PC user? Mac and PC took advantage of these stereotypes in long running competitive ad campaigns that directly compared the two kinds of people. You may remember the “I’m a Mac”, “I’m a PC” ads.  

So why does this work? Because Mac and PC have utilized the psychology of branding to foster brand loyalty by making it appealing for someone to self-identify as either a Mac or PC user. Mac users value clean aesthetics and a simple user interface. And they are willing to pay good money for it. PC users, on the other hand, value a highly customizable user interface. 

Mac and PC are big brands, but small businesses can also utilize brand psychology to build brand loyalty.

How to use brand psychology as a small business

It’s easy to see how global brands use brand psychology to succeed, but you don’t need a global presence and huge budget to implement some of these ideas. 

  • Choose your colors carefully: If you’re building a brand for your spa business, oranges and reds may not the best color for your brand. Choose a color with color psychology in mind. You can read more about choosing your brand colors here
  • Create a Unique Value Proposition (UVP): Think about what makes you different from your competitors and how you bring value to your ideal customer. Learn more about crafting an UVP here
  • Create client avatars: A client avatar is the personification of your ideal client. You want to get very specific with this. What kind of car do they drive? Where do they live? What other products are they interested in? It may help to give these avatars a name. You want this avatar to be as developed as “I’m a Mac” or “I’m a PC”. Learn more about avatars and ideal client research here
  • Design for and speak to your avatar: Everything you create should have your avatar in mind. When you write, it should feel like you’re directly talking to this “person”. Your visuals should be attractive to this avatar. The more specific, the better. Learn more about finding a brand voice that speaks to your ideal client
  • Be consistent: A consistent brand presence is how you deliver on your promise to your target audience. From your website to how you interact with customers, you should be consistent in delivering that promise. Learn about how to use canva to create consistent branding.

Not sure where to start with creating a brand that inspires loyalty and trust? Branding Compass can help. 

In just an hour, Branding Compass will guide you through questions that will help you decide your brand colors, fonts, Unique Value Proposition, and give you a direction for your core messaging. Start Branding Compass for free!