Branding Ethics

Ethics & the Fourth Brain

By Chuck Pettis

I have a degree in Psychology and have always been interested in why people do what they do, both individually and collectively. As I studied these behaviors, I realized that my "lens" or way of seeing the world, as well as my own mind and attitude have a significant effect on my experience of "reality."

I am a Tibetan Buddhist and I do a number of meditations daily that involve observing my thoughts and my mind's preoccupations. I have observed that our society and culture in the United States teaches us to think, talk, and act, all the time. Yet, as I have watched my thoughts, I have become aware that there is great power in "not thinking" and having no thoughts, not as in nihilism, but as in a calm, abiding state of consciousness that is very peaceful and happy. What is curious is that when I get into this state of mind, my thoughts turn from myself to others.

With this in mind, I have hypothesized a "Fourth Brain" that has these characteristics:

  • Compassionate, loving
  • Equanimous
  • Ethical
  • No emotions
  • No thoughts
  • Pure, formless
  • Unconscious and conscious merge and are one
  • I would add "Fully intuitive" - that is, a mind that doesn't think, but just experiences and thus has perfect knowledge without "thought"

I am an advocate for building trust and social capital through responsible and ethical branding and marketing practices. Here are a few of the rules I personally try and follow in my work:

  • Be aware of the Reptilian, Limbic and Cortex brains in marketing and communicate to them responsibly.
  • Do not use these techniques for propaganda or manipulation. Seek to fulfill people's individual, cultural, conscious and unconscious, emotional wants and needs, while increasing social capital.
  • Do not lie or use hype. Communicate honestly at all levels and build trust, based on shared values.
  • Do not look for ways to subjugate the mind, which is the standard approach to branding and marketing. Look for ways to help people feel good about themselves and become better people.

Comments welcome! Email Chuck Pettis at