Students and faculty at Humber College were recently treated to a compelling presentation by international marketing guru and branding expert, Martin Lindstrom, who has for two decade, advised top corporations, including Pepsi, LEGO, American Express and Microsoft, on how to build stronger brands.

 

Voted one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2009 by Time Magazine, Lindstrom was recently in Toronto promoting his latest book, Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, in which he turns the spotlight on his own industry and reveals the psychological tricks used by companies to win our money.

 

Not only did Lindstrom’s presentation give faculty and students the opportunity to bring new concepts to the classroom, but it served to help faculty understand human behaviour in order to optimize student recruitment, retention and engagement.

 

“He encourages debate, makes you think so you can learn,” said Michael Hatton, Humber’s vice-president Academic, while introducing Lindstrom to the stage.

 

One of the main focuses of the presentation was neuromarketing — a new field of marketing that studies consumer’s cognitive response to marketing stimuli. Lindstrom partnered with university researchers on a three-year, $7-million neuromarketing study that scanned the brains of 2,000 people while they were exposed to various marketing and advertising strategies such as subliminal messaging iconic brand logos and provocative product packaging. The results show just how much power brands wield over us all.

 

“Eighty-five per cent of the decisions we make every day are decided upon in our non-conscious part of the brain,” said Lindstrom. That means that our minds are rational just 15 per cent of the time. “We lie to ourselves all the time because we are irrational,” he added.

Therefore, the more senses a brand appeals to, the more loyalty people have to the brand and that’s because, according to Lindstrom, we are by nature irrational. Lindstrom pointed to music as a medium that has enormous influence on our behaviour.

“Sound and vision activate emotion and when you have emotional engagement, you have consumer preference,” he explained.

Most of the students left the presentation agreeing that they felt empowered to recognize when they were being manipulated by brands and said they would keep the conversation going once back in their classes.