The Calculated Creative

5 Ways Our Brains Unconsciously Process Environmental Cues

Our brains are always responding to environmental stimuli - often without our conscious awareness.

You may not realize it, but your brain is constantly processing environmental cues and signs - often without you even noticing.

As a business owner or marketer, understanding these unconscious processes can help you strategically place signs and messaging to guide customer behavior.

Here are 5 fascinating ways our brains unconsciously respond to signage and environmental cues:

1. Signage Can Direct Movement and Attention

Our brains have specialized neurons that respond to cues in our environment that convey information about movement and space. Signs that have arrows or imply direction can actually guide customers to move in certain ways. Not only via physical spaces, but also digital ones. Even more subtly, things like images, color contrasts, and lighting draw attention to specific areas often without conscious thought.

2. Repeat Exposure Creates Familiarity

Seeing something over and over causes our brains to classify it as familiar and safe. Repetitive visual messaging on signage in consistent locations trains customers until your branding and key information practically becomes part of the background. This makes them comfortable and primes them to engage with your brand.

3. Signage Can Set Expectations and Frame Experiences

Human brains love expectations and schemas. Signage gives clues that allow people to pre-imagine what's coming. Things like menu boards, reception signs, and promotional posters allow you to influence customer expectations before they even walk in the door. Use this to your advantage!

4. Environmental Triggers Guide Behavior

Signs can serve as environmental triggers that tell our brains how to act in a given space. Think about how you intuitively know to speak more quietly in a library. Strategically placed signage can unconsciously guide desired customer behavior in retail spaces, service areas, etc.

5. Good Sign Placement Optimizes Processing

All the unconscious processing of signage and environmental cues does us no good if the signs themselves aren't placed optimally for the human brain. Follow basic principles like placing at eye level, allowing enough time to process information, using contrasting colors, and not overloading spaces.


The Takeaway

Our brains are always responding to environmental stimuli - often without our conscious awareness.

Leveraging this via intentional signage and visual messaging allows you to tap into powerful unconscious processes that influence consumer behavior.

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