The Pepsi Challenge has shown that Pepsi tastes better than Coke. Nevertheless, Coke consistently sells more than Pepsi. Neuroimaging studies have revealed why this is so: Coke evokes a stronger emotional response in the hyppocampus, the part of the limbic system in the brain that forms long term memories. Long term memories are formed thanks to stories. This is why we humans love narratives, and that is why we can memorise them so well. For millenia, and before the invention of writing, generations of human beings passed information through poetry to their young. Sometimes this poetry was several hundreds of thousand lines long; think of the Iliad or the Mahabharata, or Popol Vuh.
We connect with ideas, not facts. In the context of branding, and idea would be a product, a service, a country, a person, anything. If that idea creates a positive emotional signature to its audience, if we feel good when we see or hear or taste that idea, then the brand is strong. If we feel nothing, or feed negative, then the brand needs to do a lot of work.
But what is an “idea”? It is not the product, or the service, or the country, or the person. Ideas form from stories people say about the object of interest (product, service, etc.). As marketers we aim to create and encourage story-telling about the brand we want to promote. If we achieve that, and these are good stories, then we have achieved a positive emotional response (or “signature”) every time the brand is talked about. And that should be our goal.
Digital media provide us with interactive ways for engaging with people. Successful digital branding is all about telling and sharing stories about the brand.