Building a competitive advantage within your brand strategy takes more than simply pinpointing what you do better than your competition. You need to connect with your consumers on both a rational and emotional level based on basic human psychology.

By now, most of us are familiar with the concept of whole-brain or both-brain marketing, which simply means using both creativity and analytics. It stands to reason that people make decisions using both the left, rational, and the right, emotional, halves of their brain. But when it comes to building a brand strategy, knowing exactly how to create a competitive advantage around these two criteria can be tricky.

Consumers might change the way they make purchases, gather information, and spend their time, but their basic physiological, psychological and philosophical needs are constants that marketers can use to establish competitive advantage. To better understand what motivates consumers, we can start by taking a look at Aristotle’s seven causes of actions: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reasoning, passion and desire. Knowing where your brand falls within these causes is essential.

The first two causes are mostly out of our hands, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of them. There are many reasons, both rational and emotional, to prepare for the unexpected, whether it’s a chance occurrence or an act of nature.

Compulsion lives entirely within the emotional spectrum of decision making. We may try to rationalize our compulsions, but make no mistake, they are anything but. Compulsions differ for everyone, so understanding how your consumers react in these situations is key.

Habit is the polar opposite of compulsion. And while habit may have some emotional motivators like comfort, it mostly comes from a rational place. Habit can be the best friend or worst enemy of a brand, depending where consumers have already worn their ruts, but a whole lot of sound rationale mixed with a little emotional assurance could go a long way to changing minds.

Reasoning is all rational. No emotions here. This is all about facts and figures and data and analytics. This is where consumers do their researching and comparing. Here is where price is weighed against performance. Truth, honesty and integrity reign supreme. May the best brand win.

Lastly, there’s passion and desire. Again, consumers may try to rationalize these emotional motivators, but they are the heart and soul of decision making. These strong emotional feelings might cause some brand stewards to salivate, but passion and desire make connecting with your consumers in a meaningful way that much harder. One tiny mistake and you could find yourself on the outside looking in for quite some time.

Brands must differentiate from competitors and position themselves through a brand strategy that connects rationally and emotionally with their target audience. This is much easier said than done. Fortunately, there are experts who can help.

Learn about JPL’s brand methodology.