You must appeal to feelings first

I was once asked by an executive, with regards to branding, value, consumer expectations, et al.:

"So let me get this straight. People are exposed to my business--my brand--by experiencing something or someone. And then they think about what it is they’ve sensed and decide if what I offer--our unique value proposition--is something that interests them?"

That sounds right, doesn't it? It's not. Here's how I responded:

"Well, you’re close. In fact, you’d be dead on if this were 1950. Unfortunately that’s not how people’s brains work today. It’s simply impossible to rationally consider all of the choices in this overstimulated marketplace--to put all of that brand information in our heads and then sort through it. Instead people take a more intuitive course of action.

Instead of sensing and then thinking about you and what you offer, they sense and then feel something. They engage in interpretive looking or sensing. Their sensory experience causes them to feel a certain way and believe certain things about you, based on their past experiences and memories. They then think about those feelings and instinctively make some sort of decision."

Do you see? People's feelings create a sketchy mental picture of your brand and your offering and their thoughts hastily complete that picture to support their beliefs, their assumptions, their biases, and even their self-perceptions. You must appeal to their feelings first.

He didn't get it. I hope you do.