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Unconscious Brand Messaging and Perception Beneath the Detection Threshold

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Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


It is a matter of fact that more than 90% of all information is perceived outside conscious awareness, i.e., in an unconscious way. This also applies to the perception of (digital) products or services and brands. Based on the hypothesis that the (unconscious) application of stimuli positively increases the effect of brand attachment, we have developed the underlying UXi method this book is based on. In the latter chapters, we will present the results of a preliminary evaluation of the actual effects of unconscious information on brand attachment.

In this chapter, we would like to give a general introduction to the potential of information perceived unconsciously to control or trigger brand attachment by comparing theories of conscious and unconscious information processing. We will further address the question of how to trigger unconscious processes in our brain with a certain product design or brand CI.

The aim of this chapter is that the interested reader (i.e., designer or developer of digital products and services, or marketer) better understands the fine-grained relationship between appearance, unconscious brand messaging, perception beneath the detection threshold, and the crossmodal interplay of sensory channels.

This chapter was written by Andreas Riener and Katharina Holl. Parts reprinted from Emotions and Affect in Human Factors and Human-Computer Interaction, Andreas Riener, Chap. 19—Subliminal Perception or “Can We Perceive and Be Influenced by Stimuli That Do Not Reach Us on a Conscious Level?”, Pages 503–538, 2017, ISBN 9780128018514,, with permission from Elsevier.

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  1. 1.

    In psychology, different terms like unconscious, subconscious, nonconscious, subliminal, etc., are used simultaneously to refer to the same: perception outside conscious awareness. For now, we use the term unconscious as suggested by Sigmund Freud. This suggestion is followed by most of the professional literature where mental functioning is concerned (including not just psychoanalysis but also psychiatry, psychology, and neuroscience, among others) (see also Miller 2016). Later, in Sect. 3.1.3, a broader discussion of these terms and the relationship to each other will follow.


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van de Sand, F., Frison, AK., Zotz, P., Riener, A., Holl, K. (2020). Unconscious Brand Messaging and Perception Beneath the Detection Threshold. In: User Experience Is Brand Experience. Management for Professionals. Springer, Cham.

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