Book Review: Neuromarketing Essentials: what every marketer needs to know

This book by Peter Steidl is a superb, short introduction for all marketers interested in Neuromarketing.

Peter Steidl is one of the authors of the excellent Neuromarketing for Dummies and, when I reviewed that book for The Marketing Society, one of the few criticisms I had was the omission of brand archetypes and their relevance to Neuromarketing. So I was delighted to see the importance of brand archetypes emphasised in his latest publication. Archetypes have been much misused by marketers and consultants who lack an understanding of their roots in neuroscience. It’s time to put that right!


Steidl’s challenge to marketers is that our real job is to create positive memories in the consumer’s mind that will shape the purchase decision in favour of our brand. Without blinding us with experimental data or technical details, he offers straightforward advice from neuroscience on how to do exactly that.

In some 127 pages, the book covers: the basics of how the mind works, creating memories, the importance of habits, dealing with System 1 and 2 thinking, driving purchase and brand choice, goals and priming.

Unlike much of the current writing around Neuromarketing with its focus on the unconscious, he makes the very important point that the marketer’s task is to understand and respect the interaction of both the non-conscious and the conscious mind. At the same time, he leaves us in no doubt that the non-conscious mind ‘frames’ messages before they reach the consumer’s conscious mind.

I like his descriptions of System 1 as the ‘Doing Mind’ and System 2 as the ‘Thinking Mind’. It’s a more vivid and useful description of their roles than the mechanistic language of systems.

Dr. Steidl is particularly helpful and clear on the different types of consumer goals and how they link to brand choice – a topic on which should interest many marketers – and he does a good job of teasing apart the nature of Priming and different types of Priming.

For me, the chapter on drivers of purchase and brand choice is the highlight of this book. It pulls together ideas on goals, deep-rooted drivers of behaviour and the mind’s use of shortcuts to introduce the idea of Learned ‘Codes’. Learned codes are responses that are triggered without the need for conscious choice – think of how you automatically respond when someone says ‘hello’ and stretches out their hand. To build a strong brand, the brand needs to establish its own code that automatically triggers a response: think family entertainment and Disney automatically comes to mind. The importance of being on-code and building brand codes is where archetypes come in. Brand codes are built, over time and across touchpoints, by staying on-code and consistent with the archetype vision.

This is a slim volume, written in an accessible style, and it can easily be read in a few hours. It contains a range of simple ‘Thought Experiments’ that you can do on your own to bring the key points to life: e.g., recalling a highly emotional event to illustrate the importance of emotions in building memories.

I highly recommend Neuromarketing Essentials to any marketer who is interested in the fast-developing field of Neuromarketing and wants a quick and easy introduction. You will find lots of good advice and ideas to apply immediately to your marketing. I especially hope marketers will take seriously these three points:

  1. As marketers our job is to build memories. Neuroscience explains why creative tools such as brand stories and brand experiences work to build those memories.
  2. Market to both the Doing Mind and the Thinking Mind and understand how your marketing activity is affecting both minds.
  3. Use Brand Archetypes to build brand codes and to keep your brand on-code and make sure you are using them rooted in Neuroscience or working with consultants with a background in Neuroscience.




Disclosure: we partner with Dr. Peter Steidl to apply his insights in our own consulting offer.