A Marketer’s Guide to Implicit Associations

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The Power of the Subconscious in Marketing


Implicit Association Testing (“IAT”) is relatively new in marketing research. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “implicit” as “capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed” or “present but not consciously held or recognized.” Subconscious, in other words. The term “subconscious,” however, evokes a sense of mystery, existing beyond our grasp. In Daniel Kahneman’s seminal work, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” the subconscious is linked to “System 1”—the fast, automatic, and intuitive part of our mind operating beneath our awareness. This realm influences our emotions, decisions, and behaviors. For marketers, understanding the subconscious is crucial as it houses the values and associations driving consumer behavior.

The Collective Memory and Cultural Values


A prime example of the subconscious at work is the identification with cultural values. In Jungian psychology, this is referred to as the “collective memory”—a reservoir of beliefs shared among a group, frequently transmitted through upbringing, education, or advertising. These cultural values often align with archetypal symbols that evoke memorized meanings and trigger valued behaviors almost automatically. 

Examples include:

– Religions: Symbols like the cross or crescent moon encapsulate vast cultural values.
– Nations: Flags like those of the United States or Ukraine represent national pride and collective identity.
– Cities/Regions: Iconic landmarks symbolize a region’s cultural heritage.
– Companies: Logos such as Apple’s or Nike’s swoosh carry corporate identity and brand values.
– Sports Teams: Emblems and mascots create a sense of community and loyalty among fans.
– Celebrities: Icons like Taylor Swift or Michael Jordan evoke admiration and cultural significance.
– Influencers: Social media personalities shape trends and opinions.
– Movements: Symbols of movements like flower power, woke, or LGBTQ+ represent the collective values and aspirations of their followers.
– Cults: Organizations like Scientology employ distinct symbols to unify and guide their members.

Brand Equity and the Subconscious


Brand equity refers to the value a brand holds in the minds of consumers, influenced by their perceptions, memories, and associations. The subconscious plays a crucial role in building and sustaining brand equity. Symbols such as logos and icons tap into our subconscious, evoking emotional responses and implicit associations that influence our preferences and behaviors.

At Mindspeller, we harness the power of subconscious associations through our next-generation Implicit Association concept testing. This method measures the strength of instinctive associations between brands and specific attributes or emotions, revealing the underlying drivers of brand equity. By understanding these subconscious connections, brands can strategically shape their messaging and positioning to resonate deeply with their audience.

The Nature of (Sub)Consciousness and Its Marketing Implications


Recent theories in consciousness research offer valuable insights for marketers by enhancing our understanding of consumer behavior. Federico Faggin, the inventor of the microprocessor, suggests that qualia—subjective experiences—may reside in quantum fields, indicating our perceptions are complex and interconnected. Bernardo Kastrup, a doctor in computer science and philosophy, posits that innate predispositions come from the mental nature of reality, shaping subconscious reactions from birth. Cognitive neuroscientist Donald D. Hoffman’s theory of conscious agents and biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance propose that subconscious influences transcend physical reality and are shaped by collective memory and behavior patterns. These theories, supported by experts in their respective fields, suggest that effective marketing strategies should tap into these deep-seated, interconnected subconscious influences to resonate more profoundly with consumers.

Human vs Artificial Consciousness in Marketing Insights


Federico Faggin argues that AI will never match human intelligence in generating true insights. He suggests that neural networks, whether in microprocessors or biological neurons, cannot create qualia (sensory awareness). Princeton theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed supports this view, proposing that spacetime is an emergent property of deeper, underlying structures shaped by consciousness.

The key difference between human and AI insight lies in the depth of understanding. Human insight is driven by self-awareness, intuition, and personal experiences. Humans can reflect on their thoughts, grasp complex emotional contexts, and make intuitive leaps that AI, according to these theories, cannot achieve. While AI excels in processing vast amounts of data and identifying patterns, it lacks true self-awareness and subjective experience, which are crucial for deep, personal beliefs and feelings.

This underscores the unique role of human consciousness in generating profound insights. Marketers can leverage this by combining AI’s data-processing power with human intuition and creativity to develop strategies that deeply resonate with consumers’ subconscious minds.



Understanding the subconscious involves delving into a complex interplay of personal, cultural, and collective values. These values shape our identities and behaviors, often without our explicit awareness. By exploring these dimensions, we gain deeper insight into the forces driving human behavior, uncovering the intricate tapestry of the human psyche.

Using Mindspeller’s Implicit Association Testing tools, you can explore these intriguing areas to understand and leverage the subconscious in shaping brand identities, utilizing deeper human insights rather than generic artificial ones. Join us on this journey to explore the depths of human consciousness and enhance brand equity through subconscious insights.

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A Marketer’s Guide to Implicit Associations

The Power of the Subconscious in Marketing   Implicit Association Testing (“IAT”) is relatively new in marketing research. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “implicit” as “capable of