Why do you do anything you do?
Think it over. I mean, really think it over. Your reasons might surprise you. People like to think that most of their decisions are driven by logic. We do our best to act rationally and make calculated decisions, but the harsh reality is that human beings are not rational creatures.
Most decisions we make are not conscious. We may have evolved to master all other species and rule the Earth, but as of now, we’re still slaves to our own emotions.
Our love is more powerful than our logic. Our hearts are bigger than our brains. So often, all of our lists, plans and processes for decision making prove to be futile in overcoming what our gut tells us is right. That feeling you can’t put words to will often manifest itself in some form or another. Your instinct will disguise itself as reason and you’ll let it guide you because that’s what people do. You’re no exception. Your brain is wired this way. This is why you do what you do. It is proven by neuroscience. It is how people work, and it is why purposeful marketing works.
Given that emotions are at the root of most decisions, they’re also at the root of most purchases. People don’t just buy products because they need them. They buy products because of how those products make them feel. They buy it because of who is selling those products. They buy because of why those products are being sold. People crave connection and strive for purpose, above all else. So, that’s what companies and products must deliver to be successful. No laundry list of benefits and features can compare to the power of a strong purpose that resonates with consumers. Let’s get a little sciencey and dig into the research.
Your mind isn’t as strong as you think it is.
Your neocortex is the source of your capacity for language, abstract thought and reasoning. It is the rational and reasonable part of the mind. People commonly think of this section of the brain as its entirety, and mistakenly assume that logic rules decision making. According to neuroscientist, Paul D. MacLean, author of The Triune Brain in Evolution, the neocortex is actually the weakest of the three sectors of the brain that affect how you think, what you do, and how you market. According to neuroscientists, this “logical brain” is only responsible for 5% of decision making. The remaining 95% of the decisions we make aren’t rooted in reason. That’s why companies cannot win people over with logical benefits alone but must appeal to instinct and evoke emotion.
We’re creatures of instinct.
Your brainstem and cerebrum make up the reptilian side of your brain and encourage you to act on instinct. This is the part of your brain Seth Godin calls the “lizard brain.” Your reptilian brain is your impulsive survival drive that seeks safety and all the essentials of life. This part of your brain is the first to respond to stimuli and is constantly scanning to avoid danger and pain. It is not rational and acts on instinct, so even if you are trying to market essentials, it takes more than a description to raise attention. It has more to do with purpose than product.
There’s a great benefit to exciting visuals, especially those that reflect who you are, but it’s far more important to quickly form genuine emotional connections and immediately win the trust of the subconscious reptilian minds of the world. Emotions are the window into the impulsive reptilian brain. Brands with authentic purpose not only elicit sentiment and trust in conscious minds but can also gain the approval of the reptilian mind and strike a chord in the limbic system, the best part of the brain to market to.
Love wins over logic.
A little more science. Your limbic system forms your emotions. Your hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdala comprise this center of sentiments, memories, and most importantly, actions. It’s the part of your brain that’s most connected to the vast majority of decisions you make, and it longs for purpose. While the reptilian brain seeks food and shelter, the limbic brain seeks connection and fulfillment. This is the key to the consumer’s heart.
When people associate brands with positive memories, good feelings, and most notably, meaningful causes, they’re far more likely to purchase from that brand. This is why companies like Apple, Tesla, Zappos, Southwest Airlines and Harley-Davidson are so successful. Whether it be to “fulfill dreams of personal freedom” (Harley-Davidson) or “accelerate the world’s transition into sustainable energy” (Tesla), these purposeful brands understand how to share their purpose in a way that resonates with others. Given that the sector of your brain you use to form emotions is the same sector you typically use to make decisions, it makes sense that marketing with an impactful purpose drives the profit of these brands, and brands like them.
Because of the way the brain works, the most excellent product or service features (which appeal to the neocortex) aren’t enough to inspire loyalty in customers or employees. However, if you can clearly articulate and share a meaningful purpose for your business, you can cultivate passion in the limbic systems of ideal customers and employees — and that’s why people buy. Creating emotional connections is not just good marketing, it’s solid neuroscience. Companies that put purpose at the forefront of their messaging and marketing vibe on the same brain wave as their customers. Connecting through emotion is the fastest and most enduring way to attract, convert and keep truly passionately customers and employees for years to come.