Right Brain + Left Brain = Magic for Your Brand

Traveling from Maine to Florida today offered up an opportunity for me to delve into a book I’ve had on my nightstand for a couple of months now. Tracy Carlson’s What Great Brands Know: Unleash Your Right-Brain Genius to Stand Out and Make Customers Care was more than entertaining or enlightening. While reading this book I felt as though I were in a private class learning from the master. And, in fact, I was.

what great brands knowWith more than 20 years of experience as a marketing strategist, Tracy Carlson has worked with a wide variety of businesses to build their brands. In her book, Carlson shares what she’s learned in a straight-forward fashion that makes you feel as though you’re having a conversation with her in your kitchen or living room. She takes the mystery out of branding success stories, providing case studies along with tactics that businesses of any size can implement TODAY.

As the title of her book implies, Carlson introduces the importance of including the right brain in branding strategy. Yes, the analytical left brain and its statistics are important in measuring the impact / success of a brand; but statistics alone aren’t enough to make us sing the praises of a brand. Carlson doesn’t intend to denigrate the importance of the left brain in the world of branding, nor does she imply that the right brain alone should rule. The magic happens when the right brain and left brain work together.

Left-brain challenges can be invaluable at certain times, and they can make us feel more secure, but they are rarely the gateway to magic.

Don’t despair if the thought of entering the touch-feely world of the right brain makes you break out in a cold sweat. Carlson lives up to the promise she makes at the book’s outset. She identifies six principles that brands know and use to make an impact. For each of these principles, Carlson provides:

  • An overview of each principle.
  • Three dimensions of each principle: what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important.
  • Brand spotlights where she illustrates how each principle has been put into practice via case studies.
  • Getting started – suggestions and ideas to take steps to implement each of the three dimensions associated with each principle.

The framework outlined in this book removes the anxiety of walking on the right side of the brain and encourages each of us to engage in holistic thinking. As Carlson notes:

We are not just bundles of data waiting to be charted, guys. We’re still people, with dreams and quirks and passions. We’re much more complex and interesting than you think. Only a few brands and companies really get this and meet us where we are.

Thanks to Carlson’s book, you can be one of those few brands and meet your customers where they are. You’ll be glad you did.

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.


  1. I’m intrigued, Deb. Definitely will need to read this book to learn more about balancing both sides of the brain and expressing an authentic and heart-felt business brand. The title of my business brand was in fact born from the right side of the brain trying to make the boring left side look less boring. 🙂
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    • I think you’d love the book, Vatsala. The author does a great job appreciating both sides of the brain and showcasing some brands that excel at blending right and left. She’s also not afraid to take a swipe at some well-known brands (Microsoft, Walmart) that are successful in biz but fall flat in getting consumers to be brand evangelists.
      Deb Nelson recently posted..Right Brain + Left Brain = Magic for Your BrandMy Profile

  2. Having just read “Contagious- Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger, I get that balancing the right and left brain is so key for our business and for our lives. Jonah also shares six key factors to consider when creating branding and shares examples of what seem like the most likely brands to go viral, and why they don’t, because they are missing some of the key components.

    The idea that we are moving more into a right-brain creative world is part of the cultural conversation and like you said Deb, the left brain planning and analytical brain is not the be-all-and-end-all it used to be for business building. The human and more intuitive right brain might finally be getting its due, thanks to people like Tracy Carlson, Jonah Berger and many, many others in this space. Thanks for sharing Tracy’s book and I’m putting it on my to read list now!
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  3. The book sounds like an interesting read. Might add it to my 2016 book list.

    Over here, being in a creative business, the left and right brain are constantly bickering back and forth. I’ve taught a course called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” based on the text of Betty Edwards. It’s amazing what you can do when you just let things happen 🙂
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  4. Looks like a very interesting book Deb! Will definately have to check it out 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!
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  5. Very informative article! All things seem to come together when we have balance. Thank you for the book recommendation. I added to my book list!
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  6. As a rule my reading choices are escapes into r & r and I stick to blogs and articles for business content. You know there is a but coming, but this one intrigues me, if not to apply to our brand & business but to garner insight into myself. Imagine what it is like to be me and discover at age 68 that you have untapped creativity. Was never good at crafts, so big surprise when combining beads on a string was manageable & enjoyable. Fast forward 8 years and despite shaky hands and computer challenges, I get to design jewelry. Logic & reason does not guide me, my eyes do.

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