Book Review: Unconscious Branding

Full Title: Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (And Inspire) Marketing by Douglas van Praet

4 out of 5 stars | Read the summary on Goodreads

If you've got Superbowl commercials still on the brain, this is the book to pick up. It flips marketing research conventions to show how the way our brains work determines our decisions as consumers. What this means for marketers is that we have to take what people tell us (in surveys, focus groups, and more) with a grain of salt. Just like we would investigate numerical data to make sure it's correct, van Praet offers ways to dig deeper into qualitative data to find the hidden variables and meanings behind them.

The best way to build rapport with people or companies is to share in their beliefs and behaviors. When we don’t mesh with someone, when he or she rubs us the wrong way, or when we don’t aspire to the same values and passions, we routinely dismiss that person, just as we reject brands that are out of sync with our own lives.

What I loved most about this book was van Praet's real world examples. As the brilliant advertiser behind Volkswagen's Vader Kid spot and many more famous (and hilarious) Superbowl commercials, his experience shows exactly how neuroscience can craft better content.

Most importantly, he emphasizes that great content or communication causes action or behavior change. It's difficult to do and so he breaks it down into 7 steps: interrupt a pattern, create comfort, lead the imagination, shift the feeling, satisfy the critical mind, change the associations, and ultimately, take action. 

His book definitely made me think--I had no idea how much science really lies behind how we craft great content. If you're interested in books like this, I picked this up after reading Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, another great book on psychology and economics of decision making. 

Find your next to-read business book with the rest of my book reviews.