Neuroscience of Person and Brand Perception

At the Merit Club we are fascinated with what makes our brains tick! Every Wednesday we will be digging a little deeper into this with our Neuroscience Wednesdays series. Finding videos and articles on subjects from love through to leadership and addiction, these blogs cover a range of ideas and theories that help us understand our mind better, have the power to shape our lives and the way we think. 

This week on Neuroscience Wednesday, the Merit Club brings you this insightful video all about how our brains perceive people, looking into our first impressions of brands, and how we can apply these latest findings to business. 

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
— Warren Buffett

When we are out and about and we meet someone for the first time, it's often easy to make a quick decision on whether that person will be our friend or our foe. In theory, we may say that there are many different characteristics that we would want to take into consideration when making this decision, but in reality, we can be quick to judge. And when we don’t have the time to assess multiple characteristics, what happens? More often than not, our brains will take into account two main characteristics when making this judgement: warmth (looking to friendliness), and competence (looking to intelligence).

How do our brains make decisions so quickly?

There is an access in our brain that runs from the front of our brains (medial prefrontal cortex) to the back, which is activated when we make judgements about people.

It's interesting to note that the brain regions which are involved in the assessment of physical warmth and social warmth in the perception of people, are the same regions that are involved in brand perception. In fact, we use the same stereotypical model to decide whether we like a brand or not - we look at whether it is warm and competent. Those brands that are considered ‘warm’ or more 'human', therefore, are far more likely to win us over. 

Can our brains change our perceptions of people/Brands?

It takes a long time for our perceptions of people to change once our initial judgement has been formed. Indeed, it's interesting to consider, if someone who appeared to you as warm and competent in your first encounter later on became unreliable or maybe let you down, there's a good chance you would still be likely to see that person as friendly and warm despite this, giving them the benefit of the doubt. We react the same way to brands who created that personal, more human connection with us.

If you are someone who is building a brand, even if your brand/business is you, it is important to keep in mind that in order to have a successful brand, you must take into consideration these two characteristics and create a positive first impression. People will judge a brand on how trustworthy it is and will automatically build trust if their first impression is one of warmth and competence. This is where brands such as Amazon and Apple do so well, because they come across as companies that know exactly what they are doing. They share our values and show themselves as brands who care. They convey warmth and reliability, just like our friends do.

You only get one first impression, so make it count.

Words by Mine Sherefali

We would love to know what you think are the most crucial elements of making a good impression? Share with us below