This vein of research—fascinating, but not altogether surprising—gives marketers better ammunition to argue what we’ve observed for a very long time: that brands are powerful instruments of influence. We modify our behaviors according to the mostly unnoticed but indelible imprint of brands. As the marketing professor Jonathan Schroeder commented, they “constantly develop prescriptive models for the way we talk, the way we think, and the way we behave.”
Acknowledging that brands so profoundly influence our behaviors is a bit like admitting you enjoy staring at your own reflection—an evident truth, but something you might not say out loud.
Brands also influence how we much we pay for a product, the ways in which we talk about it—even how we actually experience it.
This is an old idea but a still-underexplored one. Social sector brands are more than logos on annual reports; they are mechanisms to influence end-users. We turn to brands for behavioral guidance. As the social sector innovates, increasingly transforming itself into a manufacturer, distributor, and marketer of critical goods and services, leaving the brand discussion on the sidelines only disserves its missions of impact.