Our personal, worldly experiences are very much an outcome of how our brain interprets the various stimuli that we’re subjected to every minute of every day.
If I take a seat outside a beach café, I’ll view the sea, maybe hear seagulls in the air and experience a breeze on my face.
It seems obvious that I am experiencing the physical world around me and that it’s pouring itself into my mind through my senses.
But that isn’t what is happening. The light waves that arrived at my eyes and the sound waves that stimulated my ears, the pressure waves that enabled me to sense the breeze don’t arrive fully defined, they were just ambiguous, sensory stimuli.
So my brain has the task of interpreting all of these sensory signals, of identifying their source and deducing what they mean.
This is the process of perception – it’s a creative act of interpretation in which our brain is utilising its knowledge about the way the world is, to determine what has caused these sensory signals, and that is how we consciously perceive and experience the world around us.
The brain does this through prior knowledge that it has gained through our lifetime and uses its understanding about the structure of the world and what’s out there to interpret the sensory signals correctly.
And this prior knowledge is built deep into the structure of our brain, and is not something that we’re aware of.
As everyone has different lifetime experiences, the interpretation of life events is very much a personal thing. Whilst group experiences of an event will be broadly the same, there will be differences at a personal level and it is these differences that shape our preferences and choices and make us the person that we are..
Colour is a very familiar feature of our visual experience and gives our lives texture, beauty and meaning. But colour does not exist in the physical world. Colour is light waves of different wavelengths which the brain interprets as an infinite variety of different colours.
As this perception process is different for each of us, we’re all going to experience our own interpretations of the same sensory data and this is the concept of inner diversity.
Inner diversity means that our experience of the same world is different and therefore the way we perceive everything in our life is different too.
Group learning, which starts during our school days, is very much responsible for the early shaping of our knowledge and perceptions and these form the all-important brain bank foundation which allows us to define how we see the world around us from an early age.
But of course, this knowledge bank is not static – it is being expanded on a daily basis and every new sensory stimulus can change our perception of everything around us and their importance to us at any particular moment of time.
David Ogilvy, the grandfather of advertising very famously said ‘A brand exists in the mind of a consumer, or it doesn’t exist at all’.
So very true, but new science is helping us understand how our innermost perceptions of the world around us can be shaped through consistency of experiences.
And Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon also famously said ‘In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope.’
So what is the relevance of all of this to the brand world?
This tells us that consistency and simplicity of appropriate communication and expression gives brands the best chance of attracting larger audiences and achieving success.
The process of messaging repetition in the form of mass media advertising is well understood of course, but in the brand and communication diversity of the 21st century era, where brands are competing for the attention of audiences at relatively low volumes, creating a strong, common perception of a product and brand and what it stands for is vital. If a brand achieves that. it will also have a greater perceived value than intrinsic value.