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The Secret Ingredients to Grow a Healthy Brand

  • Writer's pictureKate Schoen

Priming vs. Framing in Marketing

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

“Personalized marketing and advertising is not about sales. It’s about building a relationship with the customer,” stated Julian Hillerbrand.

Marketers have a considerable advantage when it comes to storytelling based on the techniques and strategies used. Emotions are everything in marketing, especially when targeting your customers. Two of these strategies are priming and framing. Let's dive into the difference between the two!


The framing effect is the difference in consumer behavior when the same information is presented in two different ways - as a gain (or positive outcome) or a loss (negative outcome). Consumers are risk-seeking with a loss, but want certainty with gains. The difference in the behavior of the consumers is even more extreme when the message is attempting to reduce the risk of a negative outcome. Some of these ideas include insurance products, safety features, and public health.

For example, the message "Wearing a seat belt has saved more than 15,000 lives every year" may make people feel comfortable, but will likely not change their behavior on wearing a seat belt or not wearing one.

The message "More than 6,000 die every year because they

were not wearing a seat belt" would be much more effective in a public health campaign, for example. No consumers want to imagine themselves or a loved one being one of those 6,000 people.

People tend to avoid risks when presented with gain frames and seek chances when faced with a loss frame. The framing effect is part of behavioral economics, and is important to keep in mind when creating marketing messages.

Framing Examples

Frozen Yogurt

  • 20% Fat

  • 80% Fat- Free would be chosen because it is framing that the frozen yogurt has a positive outcome

Mac Computer

  • 20% Off

  • $120 Off would be chosen because it is depicting a much higher percentage off by displaying the dollar amount


Priming, just like framing, is important in marketing and impacts a significant part of our behavior. Priming is a subconscious reaction to stimuli that influences our conscious decisions to new stimuli. Without any intentions, the first item that is presented affects how we respond to the second.

For example, television advertisements or online advertisements such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter play an important role in priming. By watching an ad, different mental pathways activate. Usually, these pathways only link to positive memories or associations. Next time you go to the grocery store and see a product from an ad, something happens in your brain, which is linked to the ad.

The positive memories and associations are triggered, and that leaves you with a positive attitude towards the product. If the client needs to choose one of the hundred different chip brands, most likely he will decide on the one that gives him positive feelings, which may have been portrayed through the ad.

Direct attribute priming is a great way to market products to customers and clients. Direct attribute priming creates associations and heightens the importance of your product's strengths. For example, researchers approached customers in the Apple store, who entered to buy a new phone. Half of the customers were asked what their memory needs were, and the other half were asked what their processor needs were. This was a straightforward question, which had a massive impact on the customers.

The group that was asked about memory bought phones with higher memory, and the group that was asked about processor speed bought phones with higher processor speeds. The customers put more weight on these features, just by asking a simple question which affected their purchases when it came to a buying decision.

The fact is that when a feature is pushed under our noses, our subconscious immediately begins to make associations. Some great ways of direct attribute priming include Ad headlines, product feature priming in ad copy, aspirational product/service images, and direct questions.


How have you incorporated priming or framing into your marketing efforts? Leave a comment below to share!

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Nicole Powell

Meet Nicole Powell, an expert whose journey spans from Manila to the Midwest, helping businesses transform into profitable and brag-worthy brands with research, creativity and neuroscience. With a determination to uplift fellow entrepreneurs, Nicole draws from her experience and mentorships with industry leaders for the past 15+ years. Her mission is clear: pay it forward, sharing the knowledge and skills she's acquired to empower others.

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