In this video, we take a high-level look at three things that the neuroscience of branding tells us characterize successful brands, and how you can apply them when it comes to branding your coaching practice:

~ Attention

~ Memory

~ Emotional engagement

In this article, we’ll be looking at the neuroscience of branding. I’ll be looking at three things that you need to do to make your brand really stand out, making it easier for your clients to choose to work with you.

Neuroscience tells us that, when branding our coaching practice, the first thing that we need to remember is that the human brain loves novelty, and so we need to gain and maintain the attention of our audience.

Then, we’ll be looking at why successful brands are memorable brands.

Finally, we’ll explore how successful brands engage the emotions of their clients and turn their clients into brand advocates.

But first, when you started watching this video, what was the first thing that you noticed? Is it possible that your eyes were drawn to the colour that I’m wearing?

Our brains are drawn to novelty. Our ancestors were hardwired in the wild to notice anything that stood out from the ordinary because they needed to be able to discriminate very quickly whether or not it was a threat.

This is why it’s so important – when we develop our niche and establish our brands based on what neuroscience tells us – that we have something that will gain and maintain our audience’s attention and stand out.

There’s that famous Einstein quote about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and again and expecting different results.  He was so right and yet we’re hardwired to take notice of things that grab our attention.

The neuroscience of branding - create branding that gets attention, maintains attention and engages emotionallyLet me give you a little personal example. I decided to update my branding and did a brand photoshoot. Prior to this, I’d been using branding that no longer reflected me and who I am now. In the new brand shoot, I made sure that we included fun pics like of me hugging trees – which is an intrinsic part of my brand persona.

We also did pics of me blowing sparkling confetti in the air and holding balloons. I also did a couple of Christmas pics but I just really made sure that it reflected and embraced who I am and where my brand is now.

I cannot tell you what a response using those new photographs elicited on social media. People contacted me, letting me know that they’ve been connecting with the brand.  It’s important that we do that: do something that makes our brand really stand out and pop, it gives people the chance to connect with you.

Also, because we say that we are living in a disconnected, virtual world, it’s even more important that we create connection. I’ve noticed much more engagement in all of my social media posts on all the platforms

However, I’m about to shoot myself in the foot when I tell you that the post that seems to have created the most engagement, and stood out the most was one that where I showed my dog – but that’s still part of my brand. Everybody knows that my life revolves around my dogs, my husband, and my mom (and not necessarily in that order).

The other thing that neuroscience tells us that we need to do when we are creating our brands is to make sure that our brands are memorable.

I’m getting personal again with a story from 10 years ago.  As part of my personal brand, I used to have a really short platinum blonde hair style. It was distinctive. I used to get comments about the hairstyle, and I really quite liked that version of me at that time.

One day, I dropped a coffee machine or for servicing somewhere in Pretoria. Some weeks later, my husband and I went to a performance Madam Zingara at Melrose Arch, more than 30 kilometers away from where I had dropped my coffee machine off. My husband and I had gone all out dressing up in facemasks and, we had dressed and geared ourselves up from top to toe.

We were having dinner during the show, and this lady leaned over from the table next door to us, and asked: “Did you by any chance drop a coffee machine of a few weeks ago for servicing?”  Surprised, I said “yes”.

It turned out that she worked at the store and she had actually taken my machine from me. When I went to drop of the coffee machine, it was one of my “chore” days.  I wasn’t wearing a scrap of makeup or dressed particularly professionally, and it shows how being really, really distinctive can make you a phenomenally memorable.

That distinctive brand element – my hairstyle – had travelled from one city in South Africa (Pretoria) to another (Johannesburg) and made me memorable. I’m older now and I don’t time (or inclination) to spend three hours at my beloved hairdresser, getting my hair into that kind of shape every four weeks.  But I do look back on that “representation” of my personal brand as great fun.

The lesson is that brands evolve over time. Our brands mature.  We’ve all seen the big brands on the supermarket shelves undergoing subtle rebranding every now and again – a careful slow process of rebranding.

What does this do?  Well, remember the three things that the neuroscience of branding tells us that successful and sustainable brands do?

They get attention, they maintain attention and they emotionally engage their clients.  Rebranding, updating branding is important in getting and retaining clients’ attention.  Don’t forget that we are hardwired to see novelty.

So, my question to you is: is it time that you looked at your personal brand and “grew it up a little bit”?

 This brings me to the third point that I want to talk about which is emotional engagement. There’s this amazing behavioural psychology study by Professor Susan Fiske, Amy Cuddy and a group of other people. They established that people were the first brands and faces were the first logos.

They then went on to identify that there are two factors on a continuum that the most successful brands figure on. They called it the “stereotype content model.  The first factor is the warmth continuum, and the other one is the competence continuum. The most successful and sustainable brands rank high in both the warmth and the competence factors.

Warmth refers to things like being respectful, caring, trustworthy, honest, sociable, moral, happy, good natured, sincere, humorous, and lots more. When we meet someone for the first time – going back to our ancestors – we are hardwired to ask ourselves at a subconscious level: Is this person foremost a friend or a foe first?  After that, we then assess their competence to either harm or help us.

Competence consists of things like agency – do they have the ability to help or harm?  Competence also consists of intelligence, efficiency, industriousness, reliability, artistic abilities, whether they’re practical or resourceful.

If I refer back to that post of my dog that was so popular, it gave you a little bit of an insight into my personal life and would have gone some way towards pushing me along the warmth continuum. It gives clients a sense of knowing you, and allows them to start creating a story about your brand.

So just to recap what we spoke about in this topic of the neuroscience of branding your coaching practice:

  • The brain loves novelty,
  • We need to capture and maintain attention of our audience,
  • we need to engage the emotions of our potential clients, and
  • pay attention to how we show up in terms of both the warmth and the competence factors.

As an exercise, take note of the aspects that I mentioned and review how you’re doing.

Take each of those individual warmth and competence factors that I described and see where you all on the continuum.

Finally, remember that successful brands are memorable brands.

In the next in my series of articles I’ll build on the neuroscience of branding and will discuss the seven stages in the customer journey and how we can take potential clients from being brand agnostics to brand advocates.

Don’t forget that you are your own brand custodian and if you don’t manage your brand, leverage it and showcase it, nobody else will.

Drop me an email at with any questions you might have about how to develop your own brand, and download your free copy of my ebook 5 Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Practice Without Spending a Cent here:

PS: don’t forget to read my article on the neuroscience of niche.

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