When it comes to setting your brand apart online and gaining the attention, admiration, and trust of your audience, every trick in the playbook should be considered. One that has traditionally been leveraged with great results – both online and offline – is a psychological phenomenon known as the Halo Effect.
What is the Halo Effect?
In its most basic form, the Halo Effect is a phenomenon by which one positive attribute of something or someone is correlated in the minds of observers to other positive attributes. For example, attractive people are generally considered to be more intelligent or successful, even if the facts don’t back this up.
The Halo Effect, researched and publicized by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1915, is caused by a cognitive bias in the brain and doesn’t just work with people – it also works with brands.
“While Thorndike saw the Halo Effect as a source of measurement bias in his research, the savvy marketer will recognize it as the foundation of the modern concept of brands,” behavioral psychologist Lee Frederickson says. “When we develop a favorable impression of a firm when interacting with one partner at a firm we tend to view the whole firm in a favorable light. Our impression of that firm’s brand is strengthened.”
Tips for Using the Halo Effect
The Halo Effect is used in numerous ways in brand marketing and advertising. The celebrity endorsement is one of the more popular applications. From athletes and actors to social media stars and politicians, endorsements are frequently used by big brands as a way of connecting with a target audience. The idea is that a customer’s positive perception of a famous person will lead to equally positive notions of the brand.
There are numerous examples of celebrity endorsements and the Halo Effect, but one most people are familiar with is Neil Patrick Harris and his TV spots for Heineken Light. By using a very likable and recognizable personality like Harris, Heineken has been able to humanize its brand and tap into the actor’s positive personality.
But you don’t need celebrity endorsements or lots of resources to utilize the Halo Effect in online marketing. There are plenty of other ways to tap into this psychological phenomenon and enhance your brand image.
One of the more popular strategies is to promote the positive relationships your brand has with other brands, individuals, associations, and groups. Here are a couple of examples of what this looks like in practice:
- Edwards & Patterson Law Firm. As you can see, the law firm of Edwards & Patterson uses the Halo Effect to attach its brand to reputable groups. It does so by including logos and badges from different organizations and awards the firm has been bestowed. From the American Association for Justice to a “10 Best” rating in client satisfaction from the American Institution of Personal Injury Attorneys, each of the emblems helps create positive associations for website visitors.
- The Greenbrier. The Greenbrier resort leverages the Halo Effect in a slightly different way. They actually feature a dedicated “As Seen In” page in their wedding section of the website. It points visitors to all of the different publications and articles that have featured The Greenbrier. These include publications like Southern Living, Modern Luxury, and BRIDES.
Clearly, there are other opportunities to utilize the Halo Effect besides celebrity endorsements. If you’re willing to get creative, you can give your website a boost.
Be Wary of the Horns Effect
It’s impossible to discuss the Halo Effect without also mentioning the Horns Effect. As the name suggests, the Horns Effect has the opposite impact. It’s the psychological phenomenon by which a person automatically judges a brand in a negative light if that brand is associated with someone or something negative. As you attempt to elevate your brand, don’t get victimized by negative associations.