Live from #TMRE13: The Pragmatic Brain

Jeremy Sack, Director of Pragmatic Brain Science Institute at LRW, provided a fresh perspective on the word “stereotype.” We hear that word all the time, but it almost always carries a negative connotation. But Sack says that stereotypes are ever-present, and are essential, especially when it comes to dealing with brands.

“Brands are stereotypes within themselves,” he states. When you hear the word Disney, you might immediately start thinking of Mickey Mouse or your favorite Disney movies and feel some kind of emotion. What you may not realize, is all of those thoughts and feelings that the word Disney brings about is the stereotype that you have of the brand. And in this scenario, the word “stereotype” is not necessarily a bad thing. 

A great example Sack provided is of a prank that Jimmy Kimmel pulled back when the iPhone 5 was about to be released. The phone had not actually come out yet, but Kimmel surveyed people on the streets by showing them the iPhone 4S and telling them it was the new iPhone 5. He asked them, “How do you think this is different than the previous iPhone?” And to my surprise, these people were convinced that they were actually holding a new iPhone 5 and described it as “lighter” and “sleeker” than the iPhone 4S. It just had to do with the perception or stereotype they already had in their minds about the new and improved iPhone 5, and it was affecting their reality. 

All of us have ideas and images that come to mind when we think of certain brand names. So, when thinking about your brand as a whole, it is important to understand the stereotype that it holds in the marketplace. 

Mayuri Joshi is Research Magician at April Bell Research Group, a boutique, full-service marketing research firm, committed to delivering fresh insights you can act on! Learn more at