Can recent studies with subliminal branding be of practical use for today’s brands? I would suggest a very cautious, ‘yes’. Not that we should all rush out and start hiding messages in our communications collateral, just that we should better understand the things most of us do naturally.
Some of you may remember Vance Packard’s ‘The Hidden Persuaders‘ published back in 1957. It caused quite a stir then, though many of its findings have since been questioned and a few discredited. However, recent experiments have suggested that brands can influence customers at an unconscious level. Roger Dooley has an interesting overview of some of the studies on Forbes.
Despite the popular ballyhoo, the underlying concept is not surprising. Some studies with patients suffering from prosopagnosia (an inability to recognise faces) suggested that even when they could not recognise a familiar face, there was low-level brain activity, but insufficient to trigger the neural transmitters to send a signal of recognition.
For years, brand communicators have known that it is important to keep your message and brand imagery in the public’s eye as much as possible, and across as many channels and modalities as you can. These recent findings simply underline the fact that this time-proven strategy works at both conscious and subconscious level.