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Blog,  Digital Marketing

How to Use the Three Brains in Your Digital Marketing

The brain is one of the most fascinating organs in the human body. Tied by a complex neural network, the brain is always receiving information from every part of your body. For instance, touching a hot stove will send neural signals to your brain to respond—usually by flinching or pulling your hand away quickly. The same goes with different stimuli to your senses. Every touch, sound, smell, taste, and sight you encounter are things your brain constantly processes on a regular basis.

Of course, you may be wondering: what on earth does the human brain have to do with digital marketing?

Well, there’s a theory that the human brain consists of three distinct brains that digital marketers can definitely take advantage of. Knowing the reasons for the specific activities within the brain’s three distinct regions will help you understand why your target consumers make certain purchasing decisions.

In this blog, I’ll explore what the triune brain theory is and how you can use it to enhance your digital marketing efforts.


What are the three brains?

According to Psychotherapy Networker, the triune brain theory is the concept that the brain consists of three separate parts—each with its own respective characteristics and traits that drive our natural impulses and instincts. These three distinct parts provide insight into the way we as humans experience the world, specifically in a physical, emotional, and rational sense. Read below for a deeper explanation of the three brains.

1. The reptilian or physical brain

As the oldest and most basic brain we have, the reptilian brain allows us to monitor and respond to our environments, such as managing blood pressure and fight-or-flight responses in our body. Our reptilian brain gets its namesake due to its basic traits. All reptilians only need to sustain their natural, biological drives to survive. This includes eating, sleeping, and reproducing. There’s nothing else to live beyond these needs for these creatures, and so, our reptilian brain works the same way.


2. Limbic system or the emotional brain

At a higher level of the reptilian brain is the limbic or emotional brain. This part of the brain allows humans to process emotions (hence the name), which leads to connections with others. Through the emotional brain, people can establish bonds with others, groups, and most importantly (in our case), brands. Of course, humans aren’t the only creatures to have a limbic system. Animals such as dogs and cats have limbic systems that give them the ability to form strong emotional bonds with their human owners.


3. The neocortex or the rational brain

You’re likely familiar with this type of brain. The outer fold of the rational brain is typically divided into two sections: the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere. If you’ve taken a personality test, you may have been told your right or left brain is more dominant. That’s because each hemisphere contains distinctive features. For example, the right brain is considered more artistic and abstract while the left is more rational and verbal. The neocortex gets its name as the “rational brain” because it works to make sense of human feelings and emotions, which are often generated by our deeper brain structures.


How to use the three brains in digital marketing

Now that you know what the triune brain theory is, and what the characteristics of each brain are, we can dive into learning how to use them in your digital marketing.


To target the reptilian brain:

Make sure to use marketing messages that target the fight-or-flight response or our basic human instincts. For example, you can use messages that tell people about how the product can help prevent certain negative experiences, such as car accidents and other events. For security messaging, you can reassure your audience that they’re in good hands if they purchase from your brand.


To target the limbic cortex:

Along with sex, emotions sell…a lot. As a marketer, you can use strong imagery and other content that pokes at your target audience’s feelings. For example, you can use marketing messages that demonstrate solutions to your target audience’s problems so that they associate your brand with relief, happiness, and other positive emotions. When you combine strong visuals and copy with the right number of emotions, you can help your audiences connect with your brand.


To target the neocortex:

Use sufficient and rational facts for your audience’s reasons-to believe (RTBs), specifically when you generate your brand positioning statement. Stimulating your audience’s emotions is important but giving rational reasons so that they act also plays a key role in marketing. Develop messaging in advertisements and posts that build on your product or service’s value to your target consumers. For example, you can create advertisements that state your product is the #1 product recommended by doctors or that your product now contains less sugar or fat (if applicable).


Knowing about the triune brain theory can make a difference in your marketing efforts. Remember that your consumers are just people with basic human needs and often driven by emotional urges that then need to be validated. A strong marketer is able to harness the power of the three brains and generate content that meets the needs of your target consumers. Depending on your objectives, you can blend the three brains to create the best product and marketing experiences.

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