Feelings First. Rational Second.

For decades, we have prided ourselves of being rational beings. We have been convinced that the well-orchestrated, carefully planned strategy was not only the mature way but also the right way to go about important issues.

How Do You Feel About This?

Today, many psychological scientists assume that emotions are the dominant driver of most meaningful decisions in life. One of them, Daniel Kahneman, a heavyweight psychologist within this field, says we use two primary modes of thinking to process information and make decisions.

In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, he argues that System 1 is intuitive, instant, unconscious, automatic, and emotional. System 2 is slow, rational, conscious, reflective, reasoning, and deliberate. Deliberate thought is more reliable, but we rarely stop, reflect, and make slow decisions, because, in many events, our responses are automatic. This is especially true when shopping. Add to this, if you make a decision while feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired (or God-forbid some combination of more than one of the above) emotion wins 100% of the time. Yup, a solid 100%.

And with the current pandemic, we’ve also seen how fear influences our shopping behaviour. A recent study by Harvard Business Review concluded that we prefer familiar brands in times of uncertainty. In a pandemic, we buy what we know because we want to regain control and the feeling of certainty and security.

Incoming Brand Message!

When creating a brand strategy or developing a new packaging design, it is evidently necessary to include factors that affect emotions. Words, colours, fonts, and a fitting design do this. You want your product to have an emotional impact on the right audience, more or less immediately. This does not necessarily make the designer’s task any easier, but now we at least know we should target the heart of consumers and not their minds. At least the first time around.

Or as the old saying goes – sell the sizzle, not the steak.