Everybody thinks they’re rational. Even the crazies.

We could easily fill every asylum.

But then why do we buy things we don’t need? Or donate to ineffective charities? Or vote for idiots? The reason is simple:

Decision making is not rational. It is emotional.

And not just for the ill-fated in rehab. As humans, we all rely heavily on our emotions to make the simplest of decisions.

The neuroscientist Damasio discovered that damage in the part of the brain that handles emotions left his patients unable to choose between a turkey or a chicken sandwich:

He argued that:

The point of choice is always based on emotion.

Effective decision making is simply impossible without the motivation and meaning that spring from emotions.

That’s why you shouldn’t just make a reasonable case with your brand, you must stir the right emotions in your audience.

No-one will choose your brand because their rational brain dictates it. People choose because they feel it’s in their interest to do so. Remember:

Emotion beats logic. Always.

Consumers want to feel a sense of thrill or belonging. Donors want to feel a sense of charity or moral righteousness. Voters want to feel a sense of security or patriotism.

Everyone wants to feel right when making a decision. That’s why:

Your brand should make a promise that stirs the right emotions.

That promise allows you to enter the part of your customer’s brain where the decisions are made.

The rational brain will reason to justify the emotional decision.


Let’s explore these ideas further.