Brands Exist In The Mind

Brands exist in the mind!

This statement confuses many because they have been conditioned to think of a brand as a physical thing that they buy. Very few consider how that product that they favor and buy got to be that product that they like more than other similar products?

Brand building traces back to a fundamental principle of marketing: perception is reality.

Another factor that many haven’t thought much about is that every brand has an emotion attached to it. A brand elicits an unconscious positive, neutral, or negative emotion.

Malcolm Gladwell, the well-known author, wrote a book called Blink, in which he contends that every time you see an image your mind immediately forms an emotional reaction. In other words every time you “blink” you have a favorable, neutral or negative, reaction to whatever you see.

When envisioning a person or a product, your mind forms an image that resonates. This image is filtered by the unconscious value system that has been instilled in you from experiences you have had from birth to the present.

The experiences you’ve had have formed your unique ability to value these images as either positive, neutral or negative –exclusively to you.

If you ever want to test this try to explain why whatever product or person that you say “you love” (e.g. your smart phone model) is why you “love it?’ I’m sure it will be a challenge and also illustrate the concept of the fact that brands exist in the mind.

As a matter of fact your mind is like a gigantic ice cube tray with a mental cubicle for every one of the brands that you buy. For example, toot paste, whatever toothpaste you favor, will be number one in that cubicle. I call this your “mental product grid.”

Accordingly, there are two basic value categories for each cubicle: those that you value and those that you do not. For those products that you do not value you buy the cheapest. For those that you value you either have some that have a unique set of attributes and you only buy those brands, or others that you perceive as having several graduations of the best. Depending on your financial situation you will buy whichever “best” product you can afford.

If you want to test this the next time you go to the supermarket and before you check out I’m sure that half the products in your basket will be the cheapest – the other half those with a unique set of attributes and what you consider to be the best.

As you can see, brands do exist in the mind!

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at or visit his website at