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Harness Subliminal Advertising to Enhance Brand Messaging

Unleash the potential of subliminal advertising to enhance your brand messaging. Explore strategies to captivate audiences on a subconscious level.

There is one commonly asked question when it comes to the notion of advertising: is subliminal advertising illegal?

The answer is: absolutely not! Although the concept may sound like a sneaky way of advertising, when done morally and correctly, it can be an effective way of raising brand awareness without shoving it under people's noses. This subtle strategy works best to drive sales amongst already established brands with a strong sense of brand identity.

Additionally, this advertising strategy is only really effective when carefully crafted and thoughtfully carried out. Your brand must be simply proposing the service or product that your company sells rather than attempting to play some sort of tricky mind game on your audience. After all, no one likes feeling like they are being manipulated!

Your subliminal message will only be "subliminal" if it fits in seamlessly with its setting. Trying to insert a nod to a product or your brand as a whole unnaturally may come across as forced and ultimately have adverse effects. This form of advertising should not be seen as "subliminal commands" and more as "subliminal messages" that prompt interest in your brand.

But what exactly is subliminal advertising? How could subliminal advertising be useful to your business? What are some key features of effective subliminal advertising? Are there any positive examples of subliminal advertising? Let's discuss.

Subliminal advertising is pretty much what it says on the tin—a form of advertising so deeply embedded in another form of media that it passes below the typical means of perception. It is a subtle way of advertising that is subconsciously taken in by the consumer without them realizing it.

Older methods of subliminal advertisements often appeared as a quick flash amid a film. However, modern-day advertising has evolved, so much so that sometimes a logo can appear frequently in long, drawn-out scenes without you even registering it.

Subliminal advertising is not limited to one form of media. Subliminal messages can be transmitted through oral, written, visual or auditory stimuli. The goal is to relay an idea or brand seamlessly, triggering the audience's subconscious mind and this is therefore not form-specific.

However, for subliminal advertising to work effectively, you must first have a strongly defined way of brand messaging through your advertising campaigns. Brand identity elements such as your company's logo, imagery and tone should already be established before any subliminal ads are implemented to support your brand.

It is worth taking your time on these little things—a well-designed logo is sure to catch a consumer's eye over a poorly thought-out, uninteresting one, regardless of the advertising strategy you choose to use.

Common subliminal advertising techniques

There are many ways to purvey a subliminal message, whether it is via film, poster, social media post or any other form of media. The most important part of effective subliminal messages is ensuring that the conscious mind is not aware that they are being exposed to an advertisement. Otherwise, the "subliminal" aspect becomes redundant.

Visual cues and hidden messages

Using visual cues is a useful form of subliminal advertising. Naturally, we humans often process visual aids easier than others, trusting what we see with our eyes above all. This is where a cleverly placed logo can make all the difference. This is often referred to as sub-visual messaging.

For bigger, already well-established brands, even an associated color palette can be a visual form of subliminal messaging, like the iconic red and yellow of the Mcdonald's logo, for instance.

Audio cues and subconscious triggers

There is also a variety of audio cues that can be used within subliminal messaging. You may have heard of backmasking, an admittedly strange form of subliminal advertising in which a sentence is played backward with a hidden message.

There is no real evidence that backmasking works and so sticking to normal audio cues may prove more effective. This could be an inclusion of a brand name or a well-known slogan within a piece of media, subconsciously triggering the consumer.

Linguistic devices and persuasive language

Although subliminal advertising is more difficult in written text, it is not impossible. A quick reference to an identifying feature of your brand or even just a reference to your brand name can be usefully integrated into pieces of media that may not seem like an advertisement at a consumer's first glance.

Again, you should take care to be small and subtle, ensuring the reference to your brand is seamlessly integrated without seeming forced or being too easily picked up by the conscious mind.

Subliminal marketing is also a great way to reinforce a particular brand message that you want people to recognize synonymously with your business.

However, for this to be effective, you need to truly understand what message you want to have associated with your brand and have a strong, already-established sense of branding. Without this, subliminal advertising may not be as effective.

Impact of subliminal advertising on consumer perception

Consumer behavior shows that people want to connect with the brands they buy from. Whether this is a replication of their own life through stylized images or a heart-evoking storyline, advertisements work best when the consumer can connect to the brand.

Therefore, using subliminal advertising techniques to build this connection is just as important as integrating your brand name, logo or slogan. Integrating subliminal messages that create an emotional connection with the consumer throughout your advertisement is a great way to connect with your audience's unconscious mind and evoke an interest in your brand.

A useful way to do this may be through an interesting storyline that captures the audience and distracts them from the fact that they are watching an ad. I'm sure we all have those ads that stick out to us as "our favorites"!

Of course, this technique can also be used to help influence purchases. A subtle nod to one of your products or services can lead to more purchases by subconsciously triggering the consumer to think of a particular product. Examples of subliminal advertising that have worked often include nods towards that brand's products, instead of just the logo on its own.

Utilize subliminal advertising to reinforce brand messaging

If you have already established a strong brand message, then you can use subliminal messaging to further realign your brand with the values and attributes you have envisioned. Ensuring that you keep these subliminal messages aligned with your brand is very important in successfully presenting your brand values and attributes to prospective consumers.

Repeated subliminal messages about your brand can also help with brand recall. The more consumers hear about your brand, the quicker your business will come to the forefront of their minds when thinking about products or services in your sector. This is also very important when looking to boost purchase rates.

It can also help with your brand recognition. Brand saturation in the market can make it difficult to get your brand to stand out. Subliminal advertising can help your brand to stand out from the crowd—sometimes less is more!

So, how can subliminal advertising work for you? Are there any specific strategies you can implement within your subliminal ads? Well, there are a couple of tips and tricks to have in mind when creating your subliminal message, or any advertising strategy. Your focus should always be on your audience, with a clear idea of your brand identity and how you wish to portray that through subliminal messaging.

Understanding your target audience and their subconscious triggers

Knowing your target audience is a prerequisite for any form of product advertising. To accurately discover this information, you should consider conducting market research and consumer analysis to find out who your target demographic is.

When you are consciously aware of who you will be addressing, you can start thinking of ways to add subliminal elements to your advertisements or other forms of media. Identifying the key psychological triggers for your particular product or service will make it easier to appeal to your consumer's subconscious mind.

Some obvious examples of subliminal advertising can be food and drink. Have you ever watched an advertisement of coca cola, for instance, and then found yourself craving one yourself? Or seen an image of someone eating a particular type of food, that you then find yourself wandering into your nearest supermarket to buy it? These are caused by subconscious triggers that then ultimately helped to increase sales and purchases.

Incorporating subliminal cues in visual branding elements

Think carefully about the context in which you will be integrating your subliminal ad. Will your logo stick out like a sore thumb? Does the color scheme work together? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when designing an advertisement to subliminally add your logo to.

The integration should be seamless and make sense, or else the subliminal aspect is lost and consumers will consciously acknowledge it. This also relates to the typography and image choices you use. Whether you're using print advertising, tv ads, or digital marketing, every choice should be carefully crafted to be subtle and sleek.

You may also want to consider the color psychology of your ad. Different colors will elicit different responses from your audience, making it a very powerful tool. You should ensure that the colors and subsequent tone of your ad matches that of your subliminal message so as not to make the subliminal aspect seem disjointed or stick out.

Crafting persuasive and influential content

Language patterns used throughout the advertisement should be persuasive and encourage consumers to go and buy your products or services. Crafting persuasive language can be tricky but is highly rewarding—this is something you should think about including in your subliminal message, especially if you wish to integrate a hidden message linguistically.

Another form of subliminal advertising that could be useful is through subtle storytelling. Using a narrative structure to craft your advert may be helpful in subliminally getting across your message or brand identity. Through a well-crafted story, you can elicit emotions and show your product without it being the main focus of the advert, a subtle way of getting your brand in people's heads.

This can be seen a lot during the festive period. It has become a popular trend amongst businesses to make short, Christmas-themed films as advertisements during this festive period, where products are featured only briefly. This is a great example of subliminal advertising done right. Many of these adverts also elicit emotional responses in their audience, as well as a color scheme that is both festive and on-brand.

Integrate subliminal messaging across marketing channels

Any conscious perception of subliminal advertisements could have adverse effects on your business. Subliminal messages work best when there is thought behind them, with poorly thought-out subliminal advertising hurting sales.

Think carefully about the product you may feature, the hidden message you want to get across and the way the logo will fit into the ad. Color schemes, typography and the language used should also be thought through to ensure that the message is integrated seamlessly.

So, can subliminal advertising work for you? Again, it all comes down to your unique brand identity. Perhaps a more traditional marketing method may suit your business better. Perhaps your product would be especially effective when sold over social media, like in Instagram ads. Perhaps, you are best using all of the above—after all, there is no need to limit yourself to just one marketing strategy!

Discover more about the different forms of advertising, as well as a range of other services on the Mailchimp website. With advice on everything, from emails to e-commerce, digital content, CRM, social media, websites and more, Mailchimp is truly your one-stop-shop for every growing business.

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