CHICAGO -- Your brain may be determining what car you buy before youve even taken a test drive. A new study gauging the brains response to product branding has found that strong brands elicit strong activity in our brains. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
This is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) test examining the power of brands, said Christine Born, M.D., radiologist at University Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. We found that strong brands activate certain areas of the brain independent of product categories.
Brain branding is a novel, interdisciplinary approach to improve the understanding of how the mind perceives and processes brands. Using modern imaging methods, researchers are now able to go beyond marketing surveys and gather information on how the brain responds to a particular brand at the most basic level.
Brain imaging technologies may complement methods normally used in the developing area of neuroeconomics, Dr. Born said.
Dr. Born and colleagues used fMRI to study 20 adult men and women. The volunteers were all right-handed, had a mean age of 28 years and possessed a high level of education.
While in the fMRI scanners, the volunteers were presented with a series of three-second visual stimuli containing the logos of strong (well-known) and weak (lesser-known) brands of car manufacturers and insurance companies. A brief question was included with each stimulus to evaluate perception of the brand. The volunteers pressed a button to respond using a four-point scale ranging from disagree to agree strongly. During the sequence, the fMRI acquired images of the brain, depicting areas that activated in response to the different stimuli. In addition to the questions asked during the scanning, the volunteers were given questionnaires prior and subsequent to fMRI.