Biology of branding

By: Robert Rekward, co-owner and creative director of Delicious Design

Delicious Design has been helping small businesses to dream bigger since 1991. We’ll help you to stand apart from the competition with a fresh approach that will position your brand in a unique way that resonates with customers through carefully crafted messaging, advertising, websites and packaging. Connect with us at, or 541-390-7277.


Your brand is the quality or trait which makes you different from everyone else, and therefore memorable. It’s what grabs the customer’s attention as he or she surveys the competitive landscape.

This difference is demonstrated in your brand personality, which is the overall impression you give to your customers – the look, feel, tone, and attitude of your company. In contrast, marketing is how you sell customers the range of products you have to offer. Marketing is the externalized communication of the brand.

Brand building works because of how the human brain processes, filters and recalls information:

  • Minds can’t cope. One weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average 17th Century person was likely to come across in their lifetime.
  • Minds are hard-wired to notice differences. Very useful trying to spot a tiger in a field of grass. Also useful if you’re being bombarded with messages. You can simply filter out everything that’s the “same” and focus on those things which are “different.”
  • Minds are limited. Seeing is not the same as videotaping the world. Memory is not a tape recorder that you can rewind or cue to something you may have filtered out earlier.
  • Minds hate confusion and give priority to simple ideas. We tend to group things in a way that will allow us to find them later – we build an index based on similarities and differences. Anything that requires complex analysis to understand is off the table.
  • Minds are irrational. A choice that makes us comfortable is always preferred over a choice whose benefits are “real” (people are barely rational at all as it turns out).
  • Minds don’t change. Humans want the world to be “how we think it is” and changing this is next to impossible. When asked to name brands of kitchen blenders, consumers named General Electric second most often, even though General Electric hasn’t made a blender in over 20 years. GE reminds us of mom’s kitchen and that makes us comfortable.

Beware of attributes which are NOT differentiators

  • Product: Your product is 99 percent the same as your competitor’s. Businesses which become product-focused become “what they sell” and not “who they are.” The result is loss of customer mindshare. Where mindshare goes, marketshare follows.
  • Quality: Excellent quality is a customer’s baseline expectation of your company. Proving that the quality of your product is higher than your competitor’s is almost always a long-winded, academic presentation.
  • Price: Price is the enemy of differentiation. If your company’s offering is truly different, that should be worth something, right? When price becomes the focus of your message you undermine that which makes you unique.
  • Service: Claiming to have great service in an ad “makes sense” on the surface (it’s important to our customers, right?). However, claims of service never win new customers – service is how you KEEP customers.

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