Somatic markers - Reasons why we remember certain brands but forget others

December 26, 2004, is the date that would not be forgotten by many of us. I am sure that most of us remember where we were when watching those terrifying visuals. I am referring to the day when many of us were introduced to the word ‘Tsunami.’

Why do you think you remember it? 

Because it hit you emotionally, while this is a negative experience, the opposite emotion is highly memorable too.

A shopkeeper provides you with a toffee whenever you have gone for purchase to his store. Probably, there would be a high chance whenever you think of this man it will make you smile.

In the same way, all of us remember ads and slogans even after ages. Cadbury’s dancing girl, M-seal’s ad about a scheming son who coaxes his dying father to increase his inheritance, or even Star Sports’ ‘Mauka Mauka’ ad during the 2015 Cricket World Cup. 

Why do you remember them even after so many years? 

Here is the reason what exactly “Somatic Markers” mean

"Somatic markers" are feelings in the body that are associated with emotions, such as the association of rapid heartbeat with anxiety or of nausea with disgust.

Somatic markers are the bodily representations that are gradually built up to stimuli that take on positive or negative emotional significance.

According to this hypothesis, somatic markers strongly influence subsequent decision-making.

This hypothesis can be tested using the Iowa gambling task.

Antonio Damasio, a psychology expert in understanding the biological origin of consciousness, was the one who came up with the Somatic Markers hypothesis. It is based on the assumption that our life experiences are embedded in our memory as markers, and our choice between two alternatives is influenced by unconscious body signals that arise from those markers stored inside our brain.

According to the definition given by Antonio Damasio, every communication and interaction that you have with your prospective customer leaves a somatic marker in their brain. They either hate you or love you or even worse, and they don’t remember you.  

Based on the analysis of 1400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns by a UK-based institute it was found that emotional content has more reach over rational content.

The University of Pennsylvania looked at over 7500 New York Times articles over a 6-month period to find the ones that were shared the most. I’m sure you won’t be surprised by the results. News articles that had positive news, even those with abstract scientific terms which “promised a better something” were more widely read and shared. 

Companies must understand the importance of “somatic markers”. However, it not only brings an extreme positive emotion in their communications but also provide a superior brand experience that leaves a positive somatic marker that is highly memorable.

If you want to satisfy the customer, then you must think about how to influence the Somatic Markers theory among your customers. 

Positive somatic markers will result into repeat purchases and also stimulate positive word of mouth for the brand.

On the other hand, companies need to be highly careful about the negative somatic markers because it leaves a strong negative mark in the customers’ minds.

From now on, if you create a marketing plan for your company, think –  “What somatic markers do you leave in your customers’ mind?”

About the Author

Rajesh Srinivasan is a Marketing strategy consultant and author of the book – Marketing Success Formula.  He is an alumnus of IIM – Lucknow. Rajesh has over 20 years of experience in Marketing, Branding and Business Growth.

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