Sandeep Dayal knows of what he speaks. That’s obvious. Mr. Dayal is considered to be one of the leading innovators in modern marketing strategy, and it shows. His new book, succinctly titled Branding Between the Ears: Using Cognitive Science to Build Lasting Customer Connections, serves as something akin to his PhD on the topicalities he advocates for. It feels like a definitive statement of his philosophy towards post-modern commercialism, emphasizing a distinct give-and-take factor when it comes to predicting consumer interests and desires. The most crucial aspect of the book I think is its lack of sentimentality.

A lot of qualified men and women in the field of marketing strategy have adopted a verbose, semi-maudlin kind of speak when it comes to communicating to their chosen audiences. There’s a sense of almost unintentional condescension, likely aligning itself with the new and hotly debated trends in the overall workspace – complete with Generation Y and Z anxieties. Dayal, however, doesn’t have the time, or the interest really in sugarcoating things in this way. The tone of the book is affable and informal, but rooted firmly in left brain concepts. Holism that spouts abstractly the words ‘equality’ and ‘shared goals’ is balanced here with terms like Behavioral science, the same outcome advocated for but articulated in a manner that isn’t easy to dismiss. Dayal however has fun with the text.


The aforementioned quality of his being informal, like the give and take of empathy and industry forming a single whole, endears him to the reader while simultaneously making the drier, data-heavy aspects of the book’s focal points that much easier to comprehend. Anyone at the top of their game makes the process feel natural and effortless, Dayal succeeding in this way with flying colors. And like any great thinker, he is quick to shave down the complexities around each concept – getting to the universal root underneath. In this case, the collective takeaway is: If every major industry is starting to institutionalize a customer-empathic model based on acute psychological profiling and data, why is brand marketing in the back? If anything, Dayal stresses repeatedly, brand marketing is one of the key professions that should be leading the charge.

“If you are going to build a brand with purpose, there is a right way and a wrong way,” Dayal writes in this vein. “…I have…argued that conative motivations are key to getting people off the fence of indecision. People are highly motivated to buy brands that let them express their identity in a way that makes the world a better place. Brands with purpose must meet the following three criteria to be successful: They support causes that mesh with what the brand is, They do good in a way their consumers cannot on their own, They are seen to be authentic.”

By making it all so easy to follow, Dayal again achieves two things simultaneously. He makes advanced concepts wholly understandable for the widest possible audience, while motivating them to move towards implementation. It almost qualifies as a kind of psychological trickery folks could call devious. But Dayal has too much class to let that occur. Also a plus…

Garth Thomas