Our brains are very interesting places.
Neuroscience is finding more and more fascinating information on how we process and store information based on MRI research. Design is no stranger to the world of influencing human behaviour and in a recent article on how your brain “sees” logos, I found some very interesting findings.
First, here is how your brain processes a logo, a visual stimuli:
* We see color first (yes, color is important! Read here how to pick the right color for your brand), using the V1 area of the Primary Visual Cortex
* Then we process the shape, using the V2 area of the Primary Visual Cortex
* Then our brain searches for “meaning” of the color and shape and matches the image to prior experiences, using our memory centers in our brain
* Most importantly, if there are matching experiences, the brain then adds “semantic attributes” that extrapolate from the logo to how it applies to you, using your prefrontal cortex (associated with complex decision-making).
In the example given for McDonald’s, your brain sees the red and yellow color first, then the square shape and the arches, then it thinks “McDonald’s/hamburgers” since it has seen this image before and then it may think “I’m hungry. Fries would be good with that.”
And all that occurs in 400 milliseconds.
The second finding that I thought was really interesting was that because of the way our brains process information and our relative familiarity with it (or not), it appears that our experience with the brand is more important than any declarative statements. A positive brand is processed in the areas associated with positive emotions and rewards (palladium, posterior cingulate and frontal cortex) whereas negative brand experiences are processed in the insula where negative emotions are processed.
Translated into plain English, a logo is a powerful visual trigger of the past experiences we have had with that logo. So while a logo is very important when building your brand, by far the most influential element of your brand is people’s experience with it. If you provide them with good experiences, they will have good feelings and will react positively the next time they see your logo. The reverse is easy to figure out ….
The third finding that I loved was that we do not perceive brands as we do trivial objects (yay! part of my life’s work has been justified!). They are processed in the same way that bonds of friendship are processed. As the report said, “This may mean that biologically, there’s little difference between a relationship between two humans and a human and a brand.” Wow. If there ever were a reason to invest in your brand, that would be it.
Check out the infographic for full details on how our brains react to respond to logos. What do you think? Does this jive with your experience? Either as a “consumer” of brands or a creator of them, I’m very curious.