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Despite all of the advances in psychology and medicine, the human mind is still a giant mystery. For some people, certain words, colors, or pictures can evoke very unique responses, while others produce no reaction at all. With the fields of psychology and neuroscience continuing to expand and explore the brain, we as marketing professionals can benefit from even a simple glimpse at how these processes can be advantageous in our branding. An expert in the world of marketing or advertising knows that the smallest detail can make or break a company’s success, from the hue of color in the logo to the word choice in a slogan.

UntitledOne of the fastest growing subjects in psychology is the study of consumer behavior. Psychologists are fascinated by why certain products or services sell so well in comparison to others and how long the period of sale time lasts. Their conclusion? When in the role of a consumer, the person is not a rational being. Instead, they are overcome with both conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions. A strong marketing professional will use all of these different neurological reactions to their advantage as a way to create the best platform possible on behalf of their client.

If you want to sell a product, you have to know how people will react to the moving parts of it. A good start would be to hone your interpersonal skills for when you build new relationships with existing or prospective clients.

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When speaking to an audience, word choice is critical to capturing their attention. Because our unconscious mind interprets things very literally, metaphors and similes can be amazing marketing tools. When you describe something as sweet, it will activate two primary centers in your brain: the amygdala (which covers basic emotions) and the taste center to quickly create the same excitement you would feel if someone had just presented you with something sweet to eat.

Another aspect of consumer behavior to think about in marketing is color – studies show that different colors elicit different emotions. So choosing the right color palette is necessary to elicit the appropriate reactions and emotions from consumers when they look at your advertisements or logos. For example, red is a powerful color. It can evoke a spectrum of feelings, from excitement to anger. It also has been shown to trigger hunger, which explains why so many food chain logos contain the color.

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Even though the color red elicits hunger, it tends to get over-used. For this reason, some companies decide to use a color that makes them stand out, even though it doesn’t necessarily produce the most instinctual response. A strong example of this is Starbucks, which is the only major global brand to showcase green in its logo. While most people associate the word “coffee” with being alert and energized, Starbucks brings an element tranquility to its café settings.

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It’s important to remember that too many colors will over-stimulate your consumer, resulting in confusion rather than a positive association. It’s better to keep your message clean and simple. This applies to word choice as well. It is to your advantage as a marketing professional to take the principles of psychology and apply them to your business strategy. It’s basically a marketing cheat-sheet, so why wouldn’t you want to use it?

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Our educated guess would be that about only 25 percent of your wallet’s contents actually get used on a regular basis, if not fewer. Because of this, you’ve likely experienced that moment between total frustration and slight nostalgia as you clean out your wallet and discover a collection of cards from countless stores and brands buried at the bottom. Credit, debit, stamp, punch; the card possibilities are endless. Over time these cards got pushed further and further into the depths of your wallet, collecting dust, as they are forgotten.

The question that remains after looking through the pile is whether or not signing up for a loyalty program really made a difference in how much you shop. On average, a single household is associated with memberships for nearly 29 loyalty programs ranging all across the retail, financial, and travel spheres. The kicker? Only 12 of those are actually used.

Loyalty programs have become such a regular part of the shopping experience, and you are no longer surprised when the cashier asks you to join their “special rewards offering” that day. Sometimes they bribe you with a one-time discount on your purchase, or another kind of perk after you’ve spent a sum of money using the program. There’s always some type of gimmick. The norm for those who choose to sign up it seems is to use it until the first reward is received, and then leave it to gather dust.

On the other hand, recent reports have shown just how effective these loyalty programs can be. Satisfaction rates are up, and convenience has improved with the expansion of mobile apps in relation to the programs. Companies continue to enhance the experience by modifying bits and pieces to not only draw in new customers but to keep longstanding customers interested and happy.

Until recently, Starbucks held one of the more successful rewards programs. The structure was simple: one purchase equaled one star, 12 stars equaled a free beverage. Moreover, an individual would reach “gold” level after spending a certain amount and get certain rewards that way. Their mobile app was, and continues to be, user-friendly, allowing you to pay with your phone and view all assets such as rewards, account balance, store locations and full menus. However this past February, Starbucks announced a change in their rewards system: Stars would no longer represent a number of drinks purchased, but instead a sum of dollars spent. Now, it takes spending $62.50 to receive that free drink, instead of the minimum $24 it used to be.

Our conclusion? When designed and marketed correctly, loyalty programs have the potential to be very beneficial for the consumer. Programs must continue to value simplicity in their processes. It is no longer enough to just have a single perk – the program has to provide an avenue for the company to build a more intimate relationship with the customer.