Brand thinking

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It is no secret that one of the main disadvantages of a TV is a commercial. The commercial has appeared in the USA, probably, due to a constant search of new ways of sales increase, since a constant growth of sales markets – is the main goal of a capitalist system. This event happened already in 1941, and the first product that had been commercialized on TV was a watch.

It has been many years since – many things changed: the commercial has become an inherent part of a TV process and, therefore, an everyday life of people, the main earning method of TV companies. The commercial itself has been significantly transformed, and now affects an audience much more aggressively, inducing to buy one or another product.

Many people consider the commercial useless, thinking that no video commercial is shown on the TV a thousand times will not make to buy something. Than why companies throw away such amounts of money on the commercial, one way want to ask? Indeed, in these companies, probably, work quite intelligent people, who know, what they are doing. Besides, it is easy to track the statistics: if after N-times of a commercial showing the sales are growing, then this commercial works. And they really grow…

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So one can daresay that the commercial – it is not just for no reason, and it affects our brain, “helping” us to make a “right” choice in the store. But how? How does that actually happen? It is clear that it happens unassumingly, but what are the mechanisms? As a result of the following dialectical analysis it became possible to detect several ways of affecting on an individual’s mind with the goal of a product demand increase.

So, methods of influence on a person’s mind used in the commercial for promotion on goods and services:

  1. Forming an image of “familiarity” of a product.
  2. Creation of an illusion of awareness about the promoted product.
  3. Manipulating of scientific facts with the aim of proving that this product is the best.
  4. Empowering a product with certain socially important qualities.
  5. Introduction a name or a commercial slogan in an active vocabulary of a consumer.
  6. Creation a myth that “everybody” does that.

Forming an image of “familiarity” of a product

This, perhaps, is the main method of influence on our thinking, and rather than anywhere else is the crux of the matter of any commercial. Suppose a situation: you came to a store to buy… say, nappies. You buy them for the first time. You don’t know anything about the nappies. The question: which ones will you buy? The question was of course rhetorical. Chances are they will be either Pampers or Huggies. Why will you buy them?! The commercial does not affect you anyhow, indeed!!! Better buy the nappies “Kids freshness”. What? Never heard of the “Kids freshness”? There are plenty of nappies from different brands, some of them are much cheaper, and, perhaps, of an equal quality, but you for some reason take the ones you consider FAMILIAR. The key word here is FAMILIAR, and it is highlighted not by accident.

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This is the main goal of any commercial: to make the commercialized product familiar. For that the given commercial has to be advertised a million times on all channels, necessarily several times to be demonstrated in prime-time. And after you have seen the commercial million times on TV you go to the store and buy exactly the given product, because you consider it already familiar. You have heard and seen something about it, and the rest brands of the same product you see for the first time. But think about what do you really know about the product, long and hard being offered to you from the TV?

Probably, nothing. You don’t know what material and ingredients are used for production of this product, you know nothing about the company producing it, you know nothing about the technology of production of the given product and its advantages or disadvantages etc. And you don’t know why it costs a lot more expensive, than the rest of the goods from this category. You have just heard or seen something of the TV, and the observed can be a lie as well, because the ones, who advertise their product, will hardly be honest with you, if their product has some defects. Besides, the product, which persistently is being advertised on the TV, is more expensive as a rule not because it has a better quality, but, likely, because the high commercial costs have to be compensated.

The awareness effect exponentially increases if you face a product for the first time. This is sadб how the human’s brain works: it takes something unknown with vigilance or even perceives as danger, and to something familiar it applies with more loyalty, at that under the familiar, unfortunately, is understood things, about which a person heard something some time ago.

Creation of an illusion of awareness about the promoted product

In its foundation this method is fully based on the first one. The whole difference is in a detalization of the information supply. Now we see a not quite simple commercial with a dull, but necessarily reassuring slogan (like: “Be yourself!”), appealing to buy a certain product, but we also being reported about some product information, which by the way can indeed be a lie or scarcely the truth.

In relation to the same nappies, we will necessarily be informed, that Huggies have some cunning UNIQUE super layer, specially developed by scientists, and this super layer holds the water very well etc. One of the key words here is “unique”, since the information, communicated about the product, should set it apart from the rest: a unique super fastener on pants, a unique shampoo formula, a unique deodorant composition etc.

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Consequently, an individual gets an impression of product awareness. A person thinks that she already knows something about this product. But in reality, if think of it, in fact we don’t know anything about any product; except for we have been communicated from the TV. If now catch a young mother on the street and ask her to explain, what nappies hold the moisture, she will probably tell you about this super layer, mentioned above, in other words, what she has heard from the TV commercial. But if we ask this young mother to explain, how and by means of what this super layer holds the moisture, the physical meaning of this process, almost nobody will answer, but everyone is sure, this super layer truly exists… And after that we get surprised, why people burnt Giordano Bruno, who considered the Earth round…

Manipulating of scientific facts with the aim of proving that this product is the best

This method is based on the previous one, but now facts in the commercial (often false information) about a product are given in such a way to highlight a uniqueness of qualities of this product, its advantages, or to accredit it such qualities, which this product does not have at all.

Example: everybody, probably, remember the commercial of a Blend-a-med toothpaste, when one side of an egg is polished with a regular toothpaste and the other side – with the advertised, and put into an acid; after that the side, which was polished with the regular paste, gets soft, and the one, which was polished with Blend-a-med, continues to be hard. Such a pseudoscientific experiment, proving us, TV-viewers that exactly Blend-a-med toothpaste – is what we need. As if our teeth every day stay in an acid (in its 100%-solution).

Question: has anybody done this experiment at home? Has anybody checked the authenticity of what we are being shown on TV? And sure something suggests that an egg, being put into an acid, will unlikely to stay hard after the Blend-a-med toothpaste polishing. The product has obviously been given the quality, which it does not possess. Why?! This is a work at the level of stereotypes: you go to the store, see on the counter ten toothpaste brands, and the only one toothpaste Blend-a-med protects even from the acid. Which toothpaste will you buy?!

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There are a lot of examples of such manipulation: these are different cleaning products and powders, which wash off “even the most engrained dirt” (from “Domestos” commercial), and yoghurts, about super value of which know even pupils, and super steady cosmetics, bearing even swimming in the water, and rejuvenating creams, which unwrinkle in ten days etc.

An extract from the book of Doctor N. Walker “Natural way to a robust health”: “As far as I know, yoghurt does not have any special advantages as a beverage. One time I listened to a funny lecture about healthy nutrition. The lecturer, a very self-confident woman with a bogey flesh, was talking about a healthy influence on her life of yoghurt, which she drinks three times a day. I think she has never found the connection with her hanging stomach and the favorite drink. Besides, she kept blowing her nose in a big handkerchief (since the consumption of milk products filled her organism with slime)”. Doctor N. Walker – one of the most famous doctors-naturopaths, who developed a system of treatment with row vegetable juice. His death is still enigmatic, but many of his followers claim, that he lived 120 years, even though officially – 99, which, one may agree, is still quite a few.  

Empowering a product with certain socially important qualities


With the help of the following method of promotion the product becomes an attribute, distinctive to a certain social layer and, therefore, this at its finest is being demonstrated in the commercial. For example, one can remind a cell phone commercial, where a businessman in a good suit with tidy hair sitting at a business meeting puts his cell phone on the table. In such a manner is being created an association of a specific thing with the social status: this cell phone is for businessmen, if you are a businessman, you have to buy this thing.

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It is a very common technique in automobile, watch, perfume commercials. Also a product is often being tied not just with social attributes, but to a beautiful, successful, rich, seeming happy people. How many times you watched on TV such picture: she, a beautiful girl, takes a sip of a “marvelous drink” and fades away from pleasure and happiness? And how many times you have seen how a successful actor, who was hired for the commercial, drives a beautiful expensive car or advertising a toilet water? And here is not only the direct connection being settled – you are rich and successful, so, buy this thing, but the reverse as well: if you WANT TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL AND RICH then buy this thing, but not start working and doing something in life. It is often being proposed as namely the recipe of success.

An opposite sex success

There is a one more highly important parameter, which a product is being tried to endow, – an opposite sex success.

Example: the commercial of men deodorant Axe. Everyone must have heard of an “Axe effect”, when girls literally “stick” to a guy, sprinkled himself with a miracle deodorant? The message of the commercial is the following: use Axe deodorant – and be provided with a success in women. And, as it seems to be, the rubbish, – not a bit of it defines the success in women – but it works, especially towards those, who have problems with this success. Here is an easy way of its solving being offered.

Example: the commercial of the new cookie “Tuc”. A guy is sitting on a bike and eating a cookie, and in some moments we are being showed, how a pretty girl looks at him with a big interest. And, it would seem, why there is a girl in the cookie commercial? Then we are being showed the guy again, who continues eating the cookie and smiles with a keen face expression: “I know, this should be exactly so, I eat this cookie – now all girls are mine!”

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Helps to fight complexes and disadvantages, phobias.

A good is often being promoted as a stopper of any disadvantages or diseases, including social character ones: fears, shyness, indecisiveness, bad mood, depression etc. One can remember a commercial, where we have been showed a grey boring world, then the advertised product appears, and the world is starting to change: bright and sunny colors appearing, the sun is shining, people rejoicing and dancing.  What is it, if not an attempt to endow a product with an anti-depressant characteristic?


How often you had a chance to see in a commercial a strong sweaty man, who climbs on a rock or sails a yacht under canvas or actively does sports, and then takes a deodorant and splashes himself? And the following phrase sounds: “For real men ONLY”. Or I’ve heard: “With Oldspice a child became a man”. I think, no one has to be explained that no deodorant will make you a real man or woman.

Social status

One of the famous brands, which relates namely to status things – is iPhone. And this brand very successfully promotes its product in such a way. An example from life. Two girls are sitting. One has an iPhone and she nervously waves her finger on a censored screen, trying to find something. Then she addresses to her neighbor: “Do you know, how to text message?” And her friend is helping her to have a knack for an interface of the given STATUS device.

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The reasonable question appears: why this girl bought herself such a phone, if she can’t even text message from it? It is obvious, that exactly this girl is not going to use a half of functions this iPhone contains. Why spend such amount of money?! The commercial has simply convinced her, that with this phone she will look successful, “forward-minded”, businesslike etc. Now she is anxious just for the sake of her image reserve.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of such examples, and this witnesses that a commercial works and pretty effectively.

Introduction a name or a commercial slogan in an active vocabulary of a consumer

Example: Many of you, probably, remember the commercial Stimorol Ice – “Searching for an icy freshness”, where a man jumps into an ice-hole, and the rest are asking him: “How, ice?”. A man being in the ice-hole with a pout answers: “Not ice”. What intrinsically means “not cool”. So advertisers attempted to introduce in an audience’s vocabulary a new SLANG word, which is going to replace such words as “cool”, “wicked”, “good”, “wonderful” etc. And, say yes, they managed to do so – the word “ice” hit our lexis, and many people, young especially, started to use it in their speech.

Intrinsically, the roots of this method lead to the very first method of product promotion, namely, to forming a “familiarity”. Everybody talks about it, everybody has a buzz word, meaning its familiar, meaning one can confidently buy it, out of ten gums, the choice will likely to be made in favor of the one, which is cooler, i.e. “ice”…

Example: Another commercial from the famous producer of chocolate bars: “Don’t stop! Grab Snickers!” What could it mean “grab Snickers”? What advertisers meant under this expression? We can only guess, but it can mean “take a breath” or “go all out”.

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This is how by means of creation of new words brand thinking is being formed, and now together with the regular words one can use “grab Snickers”, which, apart from the assigned meaning, contains the brand name; same with the word “ice”. Say yes, the best commercial – is that talks about a product every day, independently from watching TV.

Creation a myth that “everybody” does that

This ploy is also often being used in a commercial. Have you seen such a commercial, where, for example, is shown a busy street, and every second person drinks Coke or eats chips? Many cadres are gleaming, we are being tried to show all social groups of all ages with happy faces from consuming the given product. This is the essence of a method, look, they say – everybody does that. Look how they all right, how happy they are from that they eat MacDonald’s hamburgers. Consequently, this tastes good, and you will surely like it.

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You have been created a new reality, where the given product has a certain place in YOUR LIFE.

Example: a hamburger – is a good way of snacking during the lunch break at work, a coffee – is a good way to wake up, a chocolate bar – is a good way to snack and to cheer oneself up with energy, Whiskas – is a good food for your pet (moreover even better, that natural, rich with minerals and vitamins). Then coming to the store and see on the shelf a massively advertised product, you buy it, because in your head have already formed stereotypes: “Everybody buys it. And I will buy, I need it too. It is such a good way to snack, indeed so many people snack this way”. And you take it, possibly, not even thinking, that this is a knowledgeable sales promotion.

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Surely, the inevitability of a market-driven economy – is a variety; therefore, a commercial in such conditions – is also inevitable for any producer, and not always a malevolent leg-pulling of people. But, nevertheless, a virus character of a commercial is often being observed, and people often spend large sums of money on goods, which they don’t really need, instead of spending them on something more worthy.

I would like to give some recommendations on this matter:

  • How often you return from the supermarket with the thought “and why have I bought all these” or “damn, went for a bread, and as a result brought two bags home”? If you go to the store even for simple food stuff, you better make a list in advance. In any big supermarket you will definitely face different marketing ploys, including an intelligent arrangement of goods, so you will have to make a circle around the store, along shelves with “odds and ends”, and will surely want to buy something. Don’t stop; just follow the targeted purchase plan.

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  • In merchandising there is a so-called rule of “golden triangle” – a rule of goods arrangement, according to which a visitor moves in a self-service room: Entrance – Interested window – Box office.

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  • When making serious purchases, think properly of a necessity of purchasing the given product taking into account the listed above methods of promotion (at bottom an intrusion) of goods by means of a commercial. Ask yourself several questions: “Do I need to buy exactly this product so much? Is it possible to find a cheaper analog of the same quality?” And the main: “For the sake of what do I purchase?”. Try to be at most honest in your answers.

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  • Study the product. Now there are all necessary tools for that: comments in the Internet, articles, video reviews, and broadcasts on the given subject. For example, during the camera purchase it would be nice to read about this matter corresponding materials, learn about the existing cameras, principle of their work, get to know about their pluses and minuses, decide, what exactly you need.

“An example with photo cameras: Now every second person has a reflex camera, which is designated for a professional shooting and really shoots well, but do you need it in particular? One can easily detect its disadvantages: size, meaning that it won’t be convenient during a trip, especially if you prefer to travel “with light baggage”; has many manual settings, about which you may have no clue; for a professional photoshoot a reflex camera needs several lenses and color filters for different conditions of a shooting, an external flash, a tripod and, of course, a special bag or a rucksack to keep and transport all of these. Are you ready to spend another N-sum of money on all these additional devices? Etc.  

  • Don’t pay a special attention on a brand. It is rather hard, but in making a more or less objective opinion, you have to do that. Come what may, most products are being produced in China, than what is the difference, what is written on them?
  • And, finally, the main recipe: a consciousness of choice. One has to develop for that. Next time, when you enter a store and take from the shelf a familiar or an unfamiliar product, think, why you have chosen exactly this product and not the other one. Then you will, perhaps, understand, that a commercial really works and makes to direct our glance and needs on a certain products, which at times we don’t really need, and sometimes even harmful for our health, the health of our children and pets.

Oleg Searching

Translated by Daria Egorova

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