We have long been in the business of branding and design—since 2001—for other people’s ideas and products. We help formalize business plans, create strategic and branding platforms, and design solutions we are proud of and really like (and sometimes love). We make things look and sound really really good. Recently we decided to do this for ourselves, create a product, build the necessary strategic brand foundations, and design the look and feel just how we like it.
Humans are rational beings. There might be a few crazies out there, but not us! When I made the decision to create a product, we based it on logic, facts, and what is best for our situation—profit for the business. At least, I think we did.
As I write this, I’m trying to recall how much I actually evaluated the business plan. I wanted to create this product because I wanted a beautiful package I loved for a beverage I consume more than once a day.
But that’s the consumer world. In the business world we think more logically. You know—numbers, like spreadsheets, and profit and loss statements. The stock is either up or down. There’s no ambiguity in business decisions. Or at least that’s what we think.
Since the Enlightenment, humans have placed more value on logic. After all, isn’t it our rational self that separates us from animals? In actuality, rationality is just part of it. Neuroscientists tell us we buy based on emotion, but justify with logic. When asked, people will use logical, rational explanations for their choices. Our brains don’t like admitting they’ve been undone by our hearts.
The emotional impact on buying decisions plays a useful role. The nearly unlimited considerations that enter into any choice are reduced to a manageable number by emotional reactions. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchase decisions actually take place unconsciously. It could be argued that emotions are the unseen portion of rational thinking. They drive much of our decision-making, it’s just processed unconsciously.
We all carry with us a bias towards our aesthetic preferences and certain brands. We access that bias when making a buying decision. Everything we’ve heard, seen and understand about a brand is in one big database in our head. We access that database when making any brand based buying decision.
This week our office is considering responding to an RFP that indicates our reply will be evaluated on a point system with so many points allocated to each of several categories, only one of which is budget. You might conclude this evaluation process appears to be strictly rational. Whoever has the most points wins. But the number of points assigned to each category is very subjective and dramatically influenced by emotional interpretation.
We’ve long held the idea that perception modifies behavior, which drives the performance of your business. Our research into the power of emotion, has shown us that before perception, lies emotion, which is largely controlled by design and aesthetics. Behavior is not just logic and rationality. We buy (and create) with emotion and justify with logic. And my new product will definitely make us money.