Thinking Like the Customer

Thinking Like the Customer

Our brains are incredibly plastic. In each of us, one hemisphere is naturally dominant, but experience and deliberate brain training can increase the capacity and contribution of one hemisphere or the other. Most people tend to have more highly developed left-brain functions, which makes it more natural to slip into a left-brain mode of thinking when learning, solving problems, or making decisions. Most of us have been conditioned from childhood to be left-brainers, to let the left-brain mode of thinking control our view of the world and dominate our decisions.

For starters, formal scholastic education tends to favor left-brain modes of thinking and diminish the value of right brain thinking. Left-brain curricula focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Right-brained curricula, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity. How many of your K-12 classes were devoted to right brain curricula?

Here’s how a too-left-brained approach gets you in trouble with brand building…

Traditional business strategists tend to view brands from only one angle and with a narrow view. They are viewing the brand from the inside looking out: Unique Selling Proposition, P & L statements, mission statements, business models, cost analyses, operational plans, etcetera. They rely on historical trends to guide future development. It is a natural tendency—most corporate functions are managed from the inside out, after all. And it is true that without left-brained oversight, businesses might function only in a fantasy-driven tomorrow, ignoring the sometimes-expensive lessons of the past.

Branding, however, is far more complex than that. It is driven by emotional forces such as perceptions and mind-share which operate from the outside in. Successful branding depends on accurately interpreting these elusive indicators, on plotting the why-factors of the customer’s buying decision in addition to the what, the how and the where.

In this new world of emotional branding, we must find fresh, innovative ways to create emotional connections with customers—from mind to heart to gut. From the customer’s conscious aspirations to the subconscious: emotion, instinct and intuition.
Marketers must think like customers, and that requires—you guessed it—emotion, instinct and intuition.

An authentic brand perspective must encompass a whole picture.

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