Why is branding so important?
Do you know why branding is so important? Do you know why it is critical to your company’s ongoing success to have your logo, color palette and fonts precisely the same everywhere, including your website, business cards, print materials, Facebook, YouTube or Google Ads? It is so you can take advantage of our amazing human brains. The human brain’s visual memory system is statistically perfect. If you are consistent with your branding, just a millisecond glance at your visual touchstones can trigger brand recognition and positive images for your brand.
In the late 1960’s, scientists were conducting research to see just how good our visual memories are. A scientist by the name of Haber ran a study called “Direct measure of short term visual storage”. For the experiment, he created 2,560 photographic slides with pictures and images on them. He then showed those slides to participants one at a time for ten seconds each. This process took over seven hours to complete. Then it gets interesting. The students took a break, and when the students came back, they looked at the same slides again. However, this time they saw two pictures next to each other on each slide: one of the pictures they had seen before, one they had not seen before. The students task was to tell the research which picture, out of the two on the slide, they had seen before. This could have been hours ago and seemingly very difficult. As it turns out, the students had an astonishing 85-95% accuracy rate.
Another researcher decided to see what was the capacity of the human brain was storing visual images. Scientist R. S. Nickerson set out to find the limits of visual memory storage in the human brain when he devised his landmark study entitled “Short-term memory for complex meaningful visual configurations: A demonstration of capacity”. He had the same methodology, volunteers looking at slides, took a short break, and then came back and chose which slide they had seen before. This is where the experiment different somewhat from the Haber experiment mentioned earlier. First of all, instead of 2,560 images, Nickerson used 10,000 images! He also made the distinction that the pictures had to have vivid imagery on them. This could be a strong foreground picture with a weak background, or juxtaposition of things not normally seen together, like a goat smoking a pipe (I’m not sure if that actually was one, it just sounded funny). The results? The experimental group had 99.99% accurate recall. This is astonishing, and all the more so because you must understand, we all share that same capacity for outstanding visual memory.
Perhaps you have noticed it yourself. Have you ever been back to a restaurant you haven’t been to in years, but you remember the exact booth that you sat in all those years ago? Have you ever been away on a long trip, and as you get close to home, everything: the roads, the trees, the signs, all seem familiar? It’s all stored in your amazing visual memory.
What does this have to do with branding?
This has everything to do with branding. This is why we must be consistent with brands. The visual aspects of brands, such as a company’s logo, the exact color and the precise fonts, instantly get seared into our memory. Even a glance at your branding colors can have an impact. The human eye has two types of receptor cells: rods and cones. The cones discern color. There are three types of cone cells, each one can distinguish between about 100 different color shades. Estimates for the number of colors the human eye can see range from one to ten million colors. And oh boy does the brain process visual images fast. Did you know that in a recent study, scientists found that the eye can distinguish images like a picnic table or a smiling couple in as little as 13 milliseconds? What? That is literally faster than a blink of an eye, which is around 300-400 milliseconds, or close to a half second.
So if you don’t always use your logo, or if your colors don’t match, or your font is not precise, will that stop someone from recognizing your brand? It will take them longer to process that visual image than it would be if everything was consistent. With the VAST amount of information available to us every second of every day, why take a chance? Don’t get buried in the endless noise of the internet. Be instantly recognizable. Take care of your branding. Be consistent. It will pay off in the end.