Why brand matters: Decision Fatigue

Have you noticed that we have more and more decisions to make every day? More options to choose from, more channels to watch, more ways to stream those channels, more ways to grocery shop, more ways to get from point A to point B… the list goes on and on! When I was a kid there really was no such thing as an “energy drink”… if you needed a pick-me-up, you would grab a cup of coffee or soda. There are now over 184 brands of energy drinks. So if you walk into a 7/11 and need a pick-me-up, you not only have to decide if you want a coffee, soda or energy drink, but you now have to decide which one is for you at that moment. Making these small decisions all day long is taxing on our brains. 

Brand and branding helps guide us and make these small every day decisions become something we can do without a second thought. 

For me, if I wanted a coffee drink, I would opt for a Starbucks coffee drink. I know Starbucks, and if I wanted an energy drink, I would go for a classic Red Bull… I feel safe making those choices. 


Consuming Content

Growing up if I had down time and I wanted to watch TV I would turn it on and have to flip through until I found something. When I was a kid that usually meant (unless it was Saturday morning when Cartoons were on the “regular” channels) I would go straight to Nickelodeon since that was the ONLY “just for kids” channel we had… Disney was not in our cable package. And if it was after 8pm, Nickelodeon became Nick at Night playing old shows like I Love Lucy and The Munsters. That was what I had. There was no decision to be made… either watch or don’t watch. Now, when I have down time, I need to decide if I want to scroll socials on my phone or watch something… if I choose TV, I first have to decide what platform am I going to watch? Hula, Netflix, Disney +, Live TV, Amazon Prime, Paramount +, Max, Apple TV… the list goes on… once I have picked a platform, I need to pick a category to scroll through, Documentaries, Movies, TV Series, Realty, or “because you watched…”… from there I scroll to find something. That is a lot of choices! I often find this process overwhelming and miss the days when I could turn it on and click through. By the time I find something I want to watch I am ready to turn off the TV and go to sleep. 

However, branding helps combat decision fatigue. Much like Nickelodeon was and still is the “just for kids” channel. Knowing what brands stand for is what helps alleviate some of the decision fatigue. If I need a pick-me-up and I am looking for coffee, I will grab Starbucks (I know Starbucks), if I want an energy drink I will go to the OG Red Bull… I am familiar with the brand and I know it will give me a boost without making my heart beat out of my chest. I know those brands so I feel safe picking them. 


Purchasing Choices


My favorite grocery store is Trader Joes and I absolutely hate Costco… no matter how good the deal is. I was trying to figure out why I like Trader Joes so much and hated places like Costco. This is it. Trader Joe’s carries very few brands. They don’t give you 12 different brands of peanut butter to choose from… There is one, Trader Joe’s brand and all I need to do is pick creamy or crunchy. Easy. I feel like I can go, get what I need, and get out. I don’t need to spend 15 minutes staring at a wall of choices. They have made the decisions for me and make it easy for me. I appreciate that. 


The same goes for clothing stores. While I used to love to peruse the mall for hours searching for that one cool piece of clothing I wanted to buy…now that I am a grown woman with kids and a career, I don’t have hours to spend at the mall. When I need to find something, I need to find something quickly. That means I am going straight to a store that I know will have something I like. Price is no longer the biggest factor like it was in my 20’s, I am not hunting for a deal. My time is worth more so I find a brand that fits my style and go straight there. 

Brands like Trader Joes, Nordstroms, and Madewell have become staples in my daily life simply because they have made it clear they will narrow the playing field for me and show me what I need. 

Since having my kids I have become a loyal fan of Honest. They might not be as green as they preach… they still use plastic packaging and are not perfect, however, I know they are doing the research and making sure there is as little “bad for you” stuff in the products I use and put on my kids as possible. I am too busy to spend hours online researching what goes in diaper cream… but I can buy their brand over competitors knowing they are working to create safe, effective products for families. When I step into Target and need detangler for my kids, there is Suave, Target Brand, and Honest, the Honest one is more expensive but without a second thought, that is what goes in my cart because I know they have done the research for me. For me, price doesn’t matter when it comes to the safety of my kids. 


How does this relate to you?

When building a business you have the opportunity to create the experience your audience will have with your business through the brand. By taking control of that, you are alleviating the decision fatigue for them. If you are a premium service provider, look and sound like a premium services provider so when someone is looking for that, they know you are the number one choice. If your company prides itself on being environmentally conscious, look and sound the part. People shopping do not have the time to do the research themselves, make it easy on them. 

Want more tips on connecting with your audience? Give this a read  


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Carolina Vangilder of Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles CA
Carolina Van Gilder
Project manager / Assistant
The coordinator, facilitator and scheduler for all Stellen Design projects. She communicates with clients about everything from contracts and payments to design edits and revisions. She helps keep the logistics on point so Stellen Design can live up to their reputation.
Carolyn Packard of Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles CA
Carolyn Packard
Carolyn Packard is a seasoned designer with valuable insight into effectively communicating and interpreting design needs to her clients. Carolyn knows the value of creating good, functional design.
Jordis Smalls of Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles CA
Jordis Small
Creative Director
Jordis is a big believer in continued education. She makes it a point to attend at least four workshops or conferences a year to keep her skill improving. She is also a big advocate for “creative play” and loves to spend her spare time trying new things and learning new techniques.