Monday, November 18, 2013

Branding Isn't Rocket Science… Yet.

There's a how-to book or two out there about satisfying the core emotional needs of customers. Perhaps you've heard of it. 

I hate how-to books. But that's another topic for another time. I do love to talk about advances in marketing however, and point out truths that are often overlooked. For a while now, brand strategists have encouraged the business world to embrace the value of emotion in selling products and as marketers see the value of appealing to consumers’ heartstrings, some powerful insights have begun to emerge, which is awesome. We've finally reached a paradigm shift in perspective. But we've also tried to make a science out of something very abstract, intangible, and somewhat ethereal. We decorate it with catchphrases and package it in some rather verbose and esoteric language only planners seem to use.

Now to many, I'm just an art director, but I say it often. Brands that can bypass the head and reach the heart and soul of a consumer will always outperform the logical appeals and positioning of their shortsighted counterparts, because the heart is more involved in making decisions than our heads. That much has been proven, although for some there remains much debate.

Emotions are powerful motivators and can be powerful economic levers, but without a proven psychological theory to tell us where, when, and how to extract emotional insights, opportunities are lost some will say. That's certainly true, but trying to measure the heart with intellectual metrics in my opinion is like trying to breath under water without gills. We know in part, and even see in part, and as a creative I for one can appreciate the mystery of how this all works.

Psychologists for years have tried to unlock the secrets of the subconscious to reveal the hidden meaning behind our conscious thoughts and behaviors. But trying to decipher raw emotion sometimes is like pinning Jell-O to a wall, especially when we continue to handicap ourselves with a fact-based, quanti­fied approach. It's like the left-brain trying to comprehend the right without an interpreter and vice-versa. 

No one loves strategy consultants, market research and consumer insights more than I. But sometimes it gets unnecessarily convoluted and complicated. We need to simplify the process I think, go back to basics, and at times trust our gut because it knows the terrain, and isn't prone to the paralysis of too much analysis. One thing I know for certain. The day we develop a fool-proof formula for the psychological and/or sociological underpinnings of how and why people use products and services, many of us in marketing will indeed become redundant and find ourselves looking for a new career. But don't hold your breath. I don't see that day coming any time soon.

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