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Branding Psychology Insights: How Consumers REALLY View Your Brand

If you read Brand Strategy: How To Fuel Consumer Motivation, then you’re well aware of the fact that consumers don’t buy the product, the service, or even the brand… they are buying the end result. They are buying the benefits and solutions.

The end result, the solutions, and the benefits are essentially feelings that humans desire on the deepest level – joy, fullness, satisfaction, happiness, confidence, acceptance, etc. Anything we really do, anything we pursue, we do it to experience some form of these positive feelings.

If we were to boil down brand marketing to the core…

It’s how well you can associate your brand, in the mind of your consumer, as being the BRIDGE to the end result they want.

Your brand is the face of the product or service that’s going to get them to those feelings. Just like we have physical bodies, made up of our inner biology which is capable of accomplishing many things… Our physical appearance, the way we present ourselves, our name, our tone and communication style… all of these are elements of our personal brand.

How well people associate your name with how well you can do something for them, is the strength of your personal brand. 

It’s not about amazing your service is. You could be the best lawyer in the world, but if you haven’t built your personal brand and no one can look at you and instantly become aware of their desired end result, then you’re depriving not only yourself of business, but also the world of your true capabilities.

The lawyer is the bridge to the settlement. It’s a painful bridge to cross for most people – one that costs money and time… and the experience to the end result is never really pleasant either. So in law firm marketing, the main focus is usually on the end result… never on the experience getting there – “We will win your case”.. etc.

So what does this REALLY mean for brand marketing?

In between your consumer and their desired end result, is a bridge. Your product or service is that bridge. Your brand is the promise of how quickly/effectively/inexpensively/pleasantly (depends on consumer needs)… will your consumer get to the end result. If they care about safety, your brand represents a safe passage to their end result.

If your consumer could have it their way, they would eliminate that bridge and get their desired end result INSTANTLY. Which makes sense. We all want instant gratification – for everything! We don’t like things out of our control – like spending time to get what we want and having to walk across those bridges. We view them as obstacles. Things that aren’t avoidable. Things that separate us from what we want.

Key Insight: Your product is your customer’s obstacle.

That might be difficult to digest. No matter how much you think your brand or your product is special because it does so much for your customer – it’s still the obstacle that the customer has to get around to get what they want. It’s a hassle.

Your consumer has to actually pay money for it. They have to give up their time as well, to cross that bridge. I’ve met a lot of brand and business owners who have grown to be so attached to their product or service that they associate their own sense of pride with it. It no longer becomes about finding the customer… it becomes about ‘the customer will find our product because it’s clearly amazing, and if they don’t want it, then that’s unfortunate for them’.

That’s probably the main reason why us brand consultants get clients. It’s because we don’t have any attachment to our clients’ business or their brand, so we see everything from a third person perspective, from the consumer’s perspective, and we strategize and advise accordingly.

If you could see the consumer’s perspective, marketing strategy would come naturally and logically. You wouldn’t need to hire consultants. Sharing that insight is probably not  in my best interest… but regardless, why is this concept extremely important for you to realize?!

Well once you understand the idea that your product isn’t this amazing gift to your consumer, that it’s actually an obstacle, NOW you can be much more strategic when you try to market it and present it in a way that your consumer will find appealing… because now you’re seeing THEIR perspective.

Now you’re in their mind with them. You can build a connection. You now have the ability to be their friend, not a salesperson. If you read Marketing Persuasion Strategy: The Deep Psychology of Consumer Persuasion, then you know that consumer’s don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. Friends shop together, they encourage each other to buy things that are GOOD for them, that will make them happy. They even ask each other’s opinion. Imagine the strength of your relationship with your consumer, if they’re asking YOUR opinion on what to buy.

Well the first step to building a strong brand-consumer relationship is realizing how your audience views your product. The next step is positioning your brand to be completely synonymous with the end result. If you have a bridge in front of you and can’t even see your destination, how likely would you be to cross it?

And you need to remember that consumers do have one thing in their control… and that’s the ability to choose from different OPTIONS. 

Enter brand competition.

We buy cars to take us places. Our goal isn’t the car… it’s the destinations the car will take us to. If we had the option of teleportation, we would happily choose it and never drive again. But since teleportation is not a current option, we need cars (the bridges to our goal).

The best thing we can do is hope that crossing the bridge will be a pleasant experience in itself.  We look for what can be the best in-car experience. That experience itself, can be a selling factor. So different car brands sell different experiences while driving. They target different feelings. Volvo targets the feeling of safety. Mercedes targets the feeling of prestige.

Something to think about: Knowing that your product is the obstacle, the bridge, to your consumer’s end result… what would define the best ‘bridge-crossing’ experience? What would define the most desired products or services?

I think the ultimate definition, the ultimate strategy, is that if you can create an experience for your consumer that is so pleasing as they travel to their end result… that your consumer actually FORGETS about the end result because they’re lost in the experience… that’s when you can quickly and easily rise to market leadership.

Make them want the experience of crossing the bridge, MORE than they want the end result it gives them. Make the end result a BONUS. Who really cares about the destination when they’re driving a Lamborghini? Who really cares about the health benefits of getting relevant vitamins when they’re chewing on a tasty gummy multi-vitamin candy?

Two rules:

1) Make your brand synonymous with the end result

2) Make the experience of your product or service (crossing the bridge) more appealing that (or just as appealing as) the end result

You have a sure winner if you employ both rules – but that’s not always possible. It depends on a lot of factors. BUT you can always employ one of them. Most companies employ can only employ one.

Eating at McDonald’s is about the experience, not the end result. The end result usually leaves most people feeling guilty. Same with drinking Coke, it’s about the experience. Drinking Diet Coke however, is about the experience, but it’s also positioned in a way that ‘it’s not that bad… don’t feel guilty… because it’s diet Coke!’.

Sometimes real-estate agents aren’t able to guarantee that their clients will get the house of their dreams, but if the clients know that the real-estate agent’s service is extremely pleasant and that he or she will try their best, etc…. if their clients know the experience dealing with the agent will be a comfortable process… that’s enough for the clients to give the agent their business. But what if the agent has a successful history and can promise the client what they want, PLUS promise a pleasant experience as they work together? How easy would it be for the agent to build his or her brand? Others would actually build it for them.

I started writing this post to explain the psychology behind how consumers view obstacles and what that means for your brand marketing strategy – but it took a little turn.  In the next post you’ll learn 2 ways consumer’s react to obstacles and how by knowing this, you can be sure to INSTANTLY and significantly prevent a reduction in brand equity.

More importantly, you will learn how to leverage human psychology to build a brand that lives in your consumer’s mind… because that’s what Brand Marketing Psychology is all about.

By Sam Pardhan

Hi, I'm Sam. I enjoy growing brands and businesses through sophisticated marketing methods. Over the years, I have contributed to the profitable growth of my own and many of my client's companies through the exact principles I write about on Brand Marketing Psychology. It is my hope that these marketing insights will also serve you in catapulting your business and marketing success to new heights.

One reply on “Branding Psychology Insights: How Consumers REALLY View Your Brand”

Here’s a recent discussion I had on LinkedIn regarding this article – it may be of value to you:


Stephen B.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist:

Thanks for this posting Sam! I’m a clinical psychologist currently working in the mental health field but am trying to find a career as a strategic planner with an advertising agency where I could apply my knowledge of psychology to generating consumer insights and assisting in creative development. I really enjoyed reading your post and am eager to explore your website which seems to have a lot of great information on the relevance of psychology in advertising/marketing. I hold a similar view to you regarding the consumer’s purchasing behavior, in that I believe consumers’ buy products/services for the emotionally desirable end result, rather than the product/service themselves. For instance, people buy golf balls that boast farther flight not because of the actual distance the golf ball travels, but because of how they anticipate they will feel when they out-drive their friends on the golf course. I also really liked your idea of the product/service as being a bridge between the consumer and their desired end result, but I was confused with the idea of the product/service then also being seen an obstacle. I view most products/services as a sort of conduit, or even a means to an end, not necessarily an obstacle between the consumer and their goal. And like you went onto say, some brands, like Apple, have been able to create products/services which in and of themselves provide a unique experience that is so rewarding to the user that the experience itself provides the emotionally desirable end result. So in that sense, not only does the iPhone allow you to call your mother to wish her a happy birthday which will make you feel good, but the process of using the iPhone to actually make the call is such a unique and fun experience that you receive an emotionally desirable end result before even speaking with your mother. I apologize for the length of my comment but I was excited to see your post and thought you had a lot of really interesting ideas on the psychology of branding!


Sam Pardhan
Strategic Brand Builder | Author at

Hey Stephen,

I really appreciate your feedback and thoughts on my article and website… I’m genuinely glad that you found it valuable!

I can tell you ‘get it’. The idea of the end result being the most important thing in the consumer’s mind. I like the Apple example – using an Apple example actually came to my mind as I was writing out the article – but like you, I felt like I should hold myself back from writing too much!… But after reading your comment, although it was long, I didn’t mind it. I wish you wrote more… so no need to apologize! And I think ANY Apple product could fit the concept discussed in the article… they definitely cater to and understand their audience.

In terms of the idea of a product/service being an ‘obstacle’ – maybe the word itself is interpreted in different ways. Perhaps, in my mind it fits because in my opinion an ‘obstacle’ is something that hinders progress. So for example, if someone wants to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, the ‘diet supplement’ or ‘the ab work-out product’…etc… will be the obstacle to their desired end result. Humans are so instant gratification oriented that anything which causes their gratification to not be ‘instant’ is PERCEIVED as an obstacle.

This is probably a better clarification (for those who haven’t read the article, this is dissected in much clearer detail on the website):

A product/service that provides their customer a great EXPERIENCE in getting to their end result… is not really an obstacle. It’s a means to an end, like you said. It’s a bridge.

A product/service where the experience is not usually desired at all (working out to lose weight, going through an entire course to learn a language, etc.)… THAT is an obstacle. Anybody would much rather have those ‘end results’ instantly. That’s speaking for the MAJORITY of people. Some people like working out.

So it really depends on if your product/service both or just one of the ‘rules’ mentioned in the article.

Thanks again Stephen!

Stay in touch.



Stephen B.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist:

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the feedback and clarification. I get what you’re saying now about how the product/service can act as an obstacle the consumer must learn to overcome in order to attain the desired end result. I really like your use of working out and learning a language to illustrate the obstacle metaphor and the desire for instant gratification. I also like your emphasis on the PERCEPTION of the product/service being an obstacle, which is different than the product/service actually being an obstacle. As a psychologist, I understand the power of perception as well as the importance of changing/modifying perceptions in order to change attitudes and most importantly, impact behaviors.

I hope to see more posts addressing the influence of psychology on advertising and marketing and the potential benefits of using psychology to understand consumer behavior and decision-making.

Thanks again for sharing!

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