Why implicit brand signals are more powerful than its explicit propositions

Implicit signals from a brand may be more powerful thanits explicit proposition, in a growing brand world, where differentiation is the challenge…

The urban roads are congested. The maneuverability of a large car is something about which most drivers would feel uncomfortable given the kind of traffic in a typical urban road and large cars consume more fuel. Why are large cars /SUVs preferred by consumers? The explicit answer that many consumers may provide may be about the space, comfort, weekend adventures, and belongingness with the family fun (given the type of ads associated with this category).

All of these are answers may reflect the real preferences of consumers. Are there are implicit reasons for buying such a car? These cars are tall, towering over us – many research studies have confirmed that anything that is tall is implicitly associated with power, control, vanity, and pride.

Are these some of the implicit reasons why consumers may choose towering cars? It is to be noted that the purchase of such a car does not solely happen because of such implicit motives but such motives may be a compelling factor that motivates the target segment.

We can now, imagine the advertisement for a real estate premium brand that attempts to use the digital route, using virtual reality that has digitalized images. The idea of such a provision (metaverse will even take it to greater heights from the viewpoint of experiential feeling of viewing the ad), is to highlight the features and benefits of the offering. If the image revolves around a gigantic, large, and tall independent house, it may overwhelm the viewer and may perhaps implicitly create awe (that may get translated into pride and vanity) but may also induce, fear translated into eeriness that is out of one’s control (the hypothetical example is used to convey how a tall image may overwhelm us rather than to intend the correctness of the example).

Welcome to the world of implicit branding.

The Observable Paradox

The recent cricket series between India and SouthAfrica had generated considerable excitement among cricket aficionados. South Africa was banned from international cricket for two decades as it was an apartheid state that would not play cricket matches with “black nations”. “Black lives matter”, is being supported by people in several nations. In fact, as an off-shoot the popular Indian brand “Fair &Lovely”, even had changed its brand to “Glow &Lovely” (do parts of the graphics on the packaging /tube still remind us of the earlier version?). Many media vehicles, today may refuse to carry “fair brides wanted”, in their matrimonial columns.

There may be more of dusky models appearing in ads for cosmetics. The preference for lighter skin in Asian countries has been established in research, and these have a strong cultural trail over centuries. In fact, at an individual level or an explicit level, most individuals will in total honesty will, that discrimination based on the color of the skin is almost a sinful thought! But many may reflect a preference that is contrary to their explicit expression (not to imply that there will never be a crosssection that is genuine about the value). Brands may no longer advertise with the proposition of fairness and legislations may follow too.

According to “India Fairness Cream and Bleach MarketReview”, the women’s fairness cream market is tipped atRs5000 crores revenue by the year 2023. According to published reports, the raising influence of entertainment and the inferiority complex associated with darker skin color are among the main factors that drive the demand for the category. Skin brightening/ lightening, glowing radiance, and skin lightening are suggestive synonyms that are likely to be used as surrogates for fairness in the category.

Sociologists refer to a term called value paradox. In simple terms it means, expecting a social value at a social level and having a contradictory value at an individual level. Value Paradox has been unearthed in several other social domains too across nations. And value paradox operates at an implicit level in the psyche.

The basics of implicit mechanism

Psycho-neurologists at the University of California have researched and found that the brain has two strands-one getting inputs from our sensory inputs (the five senses) and the other getting inputs from our action. There is a connection between both, these strands, and the formation of mental concepts at a level higher than these two strands.

For instance, when an image of a brand of cosmetic is seen, it can trigger images of fairness, superiority, confidence and self-esteem and the individual may be purchasing it repeatedly to satisfy the expectation, given the mental concepts formed for the respectiveindividual who attaches personal significance to skin color. These associations may be implicit, and the individual may not realize the contradiction between the implicit thought and his explicit views on color discrimination.

It is now easy to understand, how we perceive brand associations and perhaps value them. In an edition of Annual Psychological Review Dan Ariely, the famous behavioral scientist mentions that the mental concept during the pre-historic days used to central about food. Billions now do not have a problem with food and they had shifted to other forms of mental concepts. We now live in a world of complex mental concepts and brands are important, among them for most of us.

The implicit world, of consumers, may offer an infinite number of brand propositions that are only limited by the imagination of brand managers.

Source: Economic Times