Quick, what word came to mind? If you’re like many people, you thought of something like a banana or a school bus. Because you, my friend, have been primed.

Priming is a non-conscious form of human memory concerned with perceptual identification of words and objects. Over time, repeated priming creates triggers in your brain, which are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things.

For example, just like in the above, a person who sees the word “yellow” will be slightly faster to recognize the word “banana.” This happens because yellow and banana are closely associated in memory, thus are triggers for one another. Additionally, priming can also refer to a technique in psychology used to train a person’s memory in both positive and negative ways.(1)

Put simply, priming influences behavior through implicit memory.(2)

And here’s the thing, whether you want to or not, your brand is being primed and priming others. That’s why it’s very important for you to not only be aware of priming, but to use it effectively to create triggers that work for the benefit of your brand.

In a fun example from the movie Focus, Will Smith uses priming to win a high-stakes bet. This goes to show just how involved our subconscious brain is in the decision-making process—and how being aware of how you are priming others can make or break your success.

So, think about the ways you are—intentionally or not—priming your customers and employees. How is your website priming customers? Your advertisements? How does your store ambiance and environment prime customers to make buying decisions?

Take a deep look. Are you priming in a way that supports your and your customers’ goals?

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