Has this ever happened to you? You are driving down the road on the way to work and you start thinking about work projects, your kids, or an upcoming event. You get to work and then realize, you really don’t remember driving to work.

Think about this fact: Our senses take in about 11 million bits of information every second, but we are only consciously aware of about 40 bits of that information. I’m currently reading Unconscious Branding by Douglas Van Praet and he talks about how our brains take shortcuts based on previous experiences.

For example, when I give presentations on wine label design, I often show the below photo and ask “which wine costs more?” In other words, “which wine is of higher quality?” It’s impossible to know the quality or taste of the wine by staring at the photo, but at EVERY conference I have presented EVERYONE says, “the wine on the left.”

How can they possibly know that within seconds of seeing the wine label? The answer is because our brain is taking in so much information, it makes assumptions on our past experiences. So, in this example your brain is noticing the subtle differences – the serif and script fonts vs the sans serif fonts, the more detailed illustrated logo, the additional white space – and comes to the conclusion the wine on the left is more expensive.


Which wine is better quality?


You might have noticed that I said you noticed the differences between the bottles. According to Unconscious Branding,”The human brain is fundamentally attracted to what is different. If it were not, we would never learn.” This is why we like these exercises even as a kid… Spot the differences between the two photos:


Example of how our brains love to spot the differences


Why are we engineered to notice the differences? This dates back to our hunter/gather ancestry when we relied on this tool for survival. Something is different? There could be danger. Everything is the same? These berries are safe to eat.

Knowing this thought process allows you to understand why differentiation is so important in your winery. Our brains are wired to put things into categories and the further you describe your niche, the easier – and faster – people will recall what you do.

Being known as a California winery is not going to help people remember you, but being more specific on how you are different will. For example, which winery would you remember? One that describes its wine as “A California Chardonnay” or the one that says, “Our ‘Spitfire’ Sauvignon Blanc derives its name from an iconic site in Marlborough, New Zealand that was used as an air force training base during World War II”? At dinner celebrating our anniversary this weekend, the sommlier told my husband and I the latter story. Four days later, I still remember the name “Spitfire.”

So what can you do to be different from your competitors? In other words, how can you be memorable like Spitfire? The answer lies in defining how you are unique and then differentiating yourself. A good exercise that I ask all my of clients to do is ti answer this question: Only (your winery) delivers (unique differentiating benefit) to (target audience).

You want to position your winery so its crystal clear what you stand for. Branding done correctly will help people remember you and respect you as a wine expert.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Brands that concentrate on brand recognition win. Think of Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi. Did you know that in blind taste tests people consistently choose Pepsi? Yet in studies where people are hooked up to electrodes and shown Pepsi and Coca-Cola logos, Coca-Cola is chosen every time. How does that happen? Coca-Cola focuses on creating a memorable brand, whereas Pepsi has changed their logo over and over.

In a recent Forbes article, Hidden Persuasion: Unconscious Branding Actually Works, the author talked about a study that was recently published by Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy of Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, describes the work:

“30 women were subliminally exposed to brands prior to evaluating fashion clothing. What we found was that women’s own brand preferences impacted on their ratings of the clothing – despite that they had not seen the brands consciously…

The study demonstrates that brand equity can trigger emotional responses even during unconscious exposure, and then carry on to affect preference of products.”

The subliminal exposures were created by exposing the subjects to the brand for 32 milliseconds. The takeaway from this research is not to start creating YouTube videos with our logos inserted every millisecond. But it does prove that brand exposure works. This is exactly why it is so important to have a consistent logo and brand that is used throughout your collateral. Think about how Apple does this with their consistent logo placement on all of their products – laptops, iPhone, etc. You might not consciously be aware of the logos, but your brain is registering it every time you see their products. Your winery brand should follow this same formula.

Rebecca is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, which specializes in building brands for wineries. Take our free 7 week wine marketing class to learn how to sell more wine with a powerful brand, email marketing, social media, online ads and more: sell-more-wine