Brandwashed Book Summary By Martin Lindstrom

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Brandwashed is the must-read book on how marketers use psychological tactics to influence buying decisions.

Martin Lindstrom takes readers on a journey into the world of corporate marketing and shows them the hidden tricks of some of the most powerful companies in the world.

This book will equip you with all the knowledge you need to protect yourself from manipulation, both online and in stores.

By highlighting various persuasive techniques used by corporations, Brandwashed gives you an insider's view on how companies try to pull at our heartstrings.

If you want to protect your wallet (and sanity) next time you go shopping, then this book is essential reading.

Brandwashed Book

Book Name: Brandwashed (Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy)

Author(s): Martin Lindstrom

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Marketing & Sales

Author Bio

Martin Lindstrom is an incredibly influential figure in the world of marketing and consumerism.

He's not only written six books about brand marketing and buying behavior, but he's also a successful marketing expert for several major companies.

Furthermore, he contributes regularly to journals like the Harvard Business Review and was even voted one of the World's 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine in 2009!

His latest work, Brandwashed, is no exception - it delves deep into the secrets and strategies used by large companies to manipulate our buying behavior.

It builds upon his previous book Buyology which was a New York Times bestseller - so don't be surprised if this one follows suit.

If you're wondering if there's anything Lindstrom doesn't know about branding, then I suggest picking up Brandwashed for yourself!

Learn To Spot The Subtle Tricks Of Contemporary Marketing In Martin Lindstrom’S “Brandwashed”

Martin Lindstrom'S

We may think that our buying decisions are rational and based on logic, but Martin Lindstrom’s book Brandwashed teaches us the truth—we are much more easily tricked into loyalty to a certain brand than we think.

In this revealing book, Lindstrom takes readers through the clever schemes used by consumer brands to manipulate people into buying their products.

From exploiting our weaknesses in order to tap into our emotions, to preying on our fear of missing out, companies rely heavily on targeting us psychologically in order to increase their customer base and create brand loyalty.

As well as showing how we can be influenced by external cues such as peer pressure and best-seller lists, Lindstrom explains why some products are addictive—from lip glosses that contain an ingredient similar to crack cocaine, to fatty foods that can be as addictive as narcotics.

Even in utero, your product choices could be partly determined!

This book offers readers insight into how they can protect themselves from these underhanded tactics in order to make better shopping decisions and stop themselves being duped.

How Brand Memories From Childhood Can Affect Our Adult Purchasing Decisions

From the moment we’re still in the womb, the products and brands that our parents use make an impression on us that remains with us for life.

Unborn babies are even able to recognize melodies – including the jingles of advertisements!

So it’s no surprise that when we finally enter the world and are bombarded by hundreds of brands every day on TV, in video games, and through web ads, children form relationships with some that last into adulthood.

These product preferences aren’t simply due to children wanting to fit in; studies have found that kids actually believe that having brands like LEGO makes them more likely to find friends.

This phenomenon is so strong that some researchers label this as “brand-dependency” – which basically means relying on brand names when making purchase decisions!

Furthermore, these familiarity-driven connections between products/brands persist after childhood because they’re so deeply intertwined with a person’s individual identity.

We come to associate certain products or brands with positive feelings such as nostalgia or comfort because they were once part of our childhood home and family life.

As adults, simply seeing a product can trigger fond memories of those cozy times spent within our loving homes.

Fear Leads To Irrational Behaviour – Our Amygdala Overpowers That Of Rational Thinking

Rational Thinking

In Brandwashed, author Martin Lindstrom looks closely at how fear can lead us to make irrational decisions.

Fear is a biological reaction: our brains are wired to help us survive danger which means that when we feel threatened, we respond quickly and often without much thought.

As an example of how this plays out in the real world, people often use hand sanitizers as protection against a global flu pandemic.

Even though there is no proof of these products actually helping, people use them anyway because they’re scared of the consequences of not doing so.

We are also scared of becoming our future feared selves — versions of ourselves that we really want to avoid being.

In one study from 2008, consumers were shown different images of what their “feared self” might look like and it proved very persuasive in getting them to make purchasing decisions — think about all money spent on cosmetics to ensure that others don’t see us as unkempt or unattractive.

The Highs And Lows Of Shopping And Smartphone Addiction: How Brain Chemistry Makes Us Addicted To Pleasure-Seeking Behaviors

People can actually become addicted to the products they use and to shopping.

It’s an all-too-common issue in society today, with many people feeling like they can’t live without their smartphones or coffee or other products.

Studies have even been conducted and research has revealed that an astonishing 34 percent of Stanford University students admitted feeling addicted to their phones.

When it comes down to it, this type of addiction has similar effects on your brain as drugs or love – yes, you can become addicted to someone too!

When young adults heard the ringing or felt the vibrations from their cellphones, areas of their brain that control emotions and pleasure were activated; the same area that is activated when a person is in love.

Shopping addiction works in a different way – flood your brain with dopamine which makes you feel good and gives you endorphins.

This often leads to a “rush”; however, afterwards dopamine levels drop back down leading to another shopping experience as a means of getting back up again.

Over time, this behavior increases as consumers need more and more purchases every time they hit the stores….which isn’t so great for our wallets!

The Phenomenon Of Peer Pressure: How Humans Strive To Fit In With The Group

Peer Pressure

Humans are a social species, and our need to fit in means that we are heavily influenced by peer pressure.

This phenomenon has been observed in countless experiments over the years.

For example, one study found that when 14-month-old babies were taught to play with certain toys, if other untrained babies were brought in to observe them, two days later those untrained babies knew what to do with the toys, simply from having seen how the other babies played with them.

It also means that people feel very uncomfortable when they’re left out.

In one experiment, all 200 participants ended up walking in the same direction as each other even though only ten of them had been initially instructed to do so – this is because everyone was trying to fit in with the group.

How Nostalgia Keeps Us Connected And Influences Our Purchasing Decisions

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that often makes us remember the past with a rose-tinted nostalgia.

It has proven to be beneficial for our mental and emotional health, as it often reduces stress, strengthens relationships and even enhances our social skills.

But there are also dangers associated with letting nostalgia cloud our judgement – because it might lead us to remember events, situations or even people that never actually happened.

This false memory can be caused by clever marketers engaging in manipulative tactics in order to influence purchasing decisions.

Therefore, while the warm feeling of nostalgia can be good for our health, we should keep in mind that it could also make us remember the past falsely.

The Adverse Effects Of Companies Targeting Children For Marketing Purposes

Companies understand that they have a better chance of getting lifelong customers if they target children from as early an age as possible.

This is why you’ll find TV commercials, teddy bears with company logos, and other forms of marketing aimed at kids.

But how do companies make their brands appeal to children? One way is by using entertainment to create desire for their products.

A great example is when Kellogg’s created an iPhone game featuring “Apple Jack” cereal for extra points.

Not only does this bypass the restrictions on advertising directly to kids on TV, but it also encourages children to act as “viral marketers” and spread the word about the brand among their peers while they play together.

Once companies have managed to make their brands desirable amongst children, they look to lock those customers in for life by getting them to use “adult” products before they fully reach adulthood.

We’ve seen this with cosmetics whereby companies like Bonne Bell offer makeup kits for girls as young as seven years old – a study even found that there was a near doubling in younger users of mascara between 2007-2009!

It’s an even starker example still with tobacco giant R J Reynolds who sent birthday parcels containing their menthol cigarette brand Kool for 18-year olds along with CDs from new rock bands!

It’s clear then: get them young and keep them loyal!

Businesses Understand Our Fear And Use It For Profit – How Fear Shapes Our Buying Habits


In order to increase sales, companies often use fear as a tactic to make people get their products.

They achieve this by dramatizing the dangers that surround us and making us believe that we need their product to protect us from them.

One example is Broadway Security’s commercial which depicted a mother in her kitchen not noticing an intruder in their backyard.

The company managed to convince viewers that they needed security equipment to stay safe, leading to an increase in alarm system sales of 10%.

Thai Life Insurance also utilized fear in their advertisement by showing a man driving until there was an inevitable crash.

Through this footage, the company aimed to tug at the heartstrings of its viewers who felt fear of dying and guilty for leaving loved ones behind.

The Power Of Addictive Products: How Companies Manipulate Us Into Craving Them

The truth is that many products are designed to evoke a physical and emotional addiction in the user.

Companies know how powerful this can be and use it to their advantage in order to keep consumers coming back for more.

Take food, for instance.

Research has shown that foods high in fat and sugar have similar effects on the brain as cocaine.

Not only do they produce a dopamine release, but our bodies need larger doses over time in order to obtain the same satisfaction.

Even worse, these effects last longer with food than when using cocaine – up to seven times longer!

And it isn’t just food products that contain addictive ingredients – even lip balms may have mind-altering components like menthol and phenol which can cause lips to become dryer over time and make people go through the motions of applying lip balm without thinking about it.

How Companies Create Buzz And Influence Consumer Behavior Through Customer Reviews And Bestseller Lists

Customer Reviews

Marketers employ a number of techniques to create an artificial peer pressure to sell their products.

One such technique is data manipulation, such as customer reviews.

A 2008 study found that of those American consumers who had shopped online multiple times, almost 50% consulted between 4 to 7 reviews before making a purchasing decision.

Furthermore, companies turn to bestseller rankings to make their products look preapproved by experts.

For instance, iTunes ‘What’s Hot’ and ‘What We’re Listening To’ categories feature records most likely generated by record labels paying money for the start page positions.

Even though not all CDs are necessarily the product choices of experts, people buy into them so they won’t miss out on what is trending or popular at the moment.

Overall, marketers skillfully created fake peer pressure in order to boost sales of their products.

How Companies Use Nostalgia And Imperfections To Trick You Into Buying Their Products

Marketers have many strategies to evoke a sense of nostalgia and fondness for their products.

One popular method is bringing back old slogans or commercials from the past.

For example, Heinz utilized the 1970s slogan “Beanz meanz Heinz” when reviving an advertisement in 2009.

This strategy works because it automatically brings people back to times when they had positive memories associated with the product, even if they didn’t ever consume it in the past.

Other tactics marketers use include representing products as imperfect, like food companies marketing their food as cosmetically flawed.

This is to give customers the impression that the product was made by hand and without artificial ingredients, making them think of a time when food was fresher and healthier than it is today.

Ghirardelli went so far as to market luxury chocolate chunks sold in old-fashioned brown paper bags with handwriting on it so that customers would believe they came from individual production and cutting, even though they were actually mass produced.

These are just two of the many strategies that marketers use to create nostalgia around their products – but no matter what method or approach they take, it’s clear that this type of branding can be highly effective.

Wrap Up

The bottom line of Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom is that advertisers and marketers are aware of our psychological vulnerabilities, and they use this knowledge to their advantage.

They design products to be addictive, tap into our emotional weaknesses, and manipulate us with the need to belong.

By understanding their tricks in detail, we can become consciously aware of what we buy, enabling us to think before spending money and make informed decisions, instead of letting emotions dictate our choices.

Some actionable advice he mentioned were hacking your nostalgia when shopping at the supermarket and being wary of dramatizing campaigns as they can often be misleading in order to get you to buy their products.

Overall, this book serves as a warning to consumers that they should remain alert even if it doesn’t always seem like things are not crystal-clear.

With the right knowledge and mindful decision-making processes, anyone can protect themselves from the ever-present marketing force.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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