Video, Trust and the Reptilian Brain

Video, Trust and the Reptilian Brain

New Brain, Middle Brain, Reptilian Brain

Many of our clients provide services or products that require a significant leap of faith from their own clients for them to commit to a purchase, donation or further involvement. This could be buying food – secure in the belief that it’s truly made from wholesome ingredients, entrusting their bodies to medical professionals – confident that they will not come to any harm – or something as everyday as being relaxed in the knowledge that the hard earned money they’ve spent on a leisure trip is not going to result in disappointment. In scenarios like these, evoking trust and allaying fears is vital to our clients’ media communications.


You audience has 3 brains – but which one is boss?

Convincing research in neuromarketing, by experts such as Patrick Renvoisé, tells us that we don’t just have one brain working as a single entity, but in fact we have 3 brains, rooted in stages of our evolution.

  1. ‘New Brain’ – the outer cortex – Rational and analytical
  2. Middle Brain – Emotional
  3. Reptilian Brain ‘Old Brain’ – Concerned with survival and decision making

Studies have shown that the rational New Brain is in fact very heavily ruled by the innermost Reptilian Brain, combined with the emotional Middle Brain. In fact, it is the reptilian, most primitive, part of the brain that dominates your audience’s thinking when they are making decisions. Repeated experiments show that in the vast majority of cases, people make decisions first and then only afterwards develop a rationale to justify their decisions.

Evolved to make speedy and vital decisions on which survival might depend, it is the reptilian brain, supplemented by input from the other 2 brains, which is the real decision maker and the part of the brain you must reach to win your audience’s trust.


How do you get through to the Reptilian Brain?

In their book Neuromarketing , Patrick Renvoisé and Cristophe Morin outline the 6 types of information that the Reptilian Brain receives and responds to readily:

1. Information that highlights contrasts
2. Information that makes ideas tangible through the senses
3. Information that addresses the individual’s personal viewpoint
4. Information that is emotional
5. Information that comes at the beginning and end of events
6. Information that is visual


Video reaches the reptilian brain – fast

We are told a picture paints a 1000 words, but video gives you 25 pictures per second – plus the possibility of emotionally engaging words and music running at the same time. There is no other medium like video for delivering so much, so quickly to your audience’s Reptilian Brains.


Video Examples that Reach the Reptilian Brain…

… through contrasts, beginnings and ends

The assertive opening, in this BASF corporate video, depicts a robust and well established organisation. The quieter 2nd section, provides a  strong contrast, creating a more reflective mood to convey the careful processes and attention to detail that are also part of the company culture. This pattern is repeated again before rising to the confident and optimistic ending.

These variations in mood and texture create contrasts along a time line, sustaining engagement with the reptilian brain, not only through contrasts, but through establishing a number of beginnings and endings within one video, thus highlighting the messages that open and close each section. Without this series of opening and closing sections, the messages would be less appealing and less memorable to our reptilian brains.


… through making things visual and tangible

This video presents concrete visual proof of the workmanship and attractive finishes that go into a Bovis home, providing tangible evidence that brings the product to life.


… through a personal first person perspective

National Star College Video Virtual Tour

In this virtual tour map of the National Star College campus, the video components are shot from the personal perspective of individual students, giving a powerful insight into the enjoyment, pride and empowerment experienced by the students while attending the college.


… and through evoking emotion

Made for a major foster care agency, this promotional video doesn’t contain any explicitly factual information, but through the use of emotional images and music it conveys very clearly how meaningful and rewarding being a foster parent can be.

References: Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoisé  and Christoph Morin, 2007


Further Help

If you would like free advice concerning your online video strategy, please get in touch with us at