We all understand the impact of stories in our lives, and increasingly businesses are taking storytelling more seriously as a skill to develop and nurture (I’ve recently run a Storytelling training program for one such business in China and have another public course running in May). But what is it about story that connects so powerfully with us, and how does the psychology of story mirror the psychology of brand choice? Here are five ways that stories tap into universal human behaviours.
Reading Generation M recently (review here) made me think long and hard about the relationship between religious or spiritual beliefs and brand values. TapestryWorks’ research on Asian beauty has highlighted the gap between international brands and the aspirations of many Asian women. This gap is nowhere clearer than Indonesia, where many local brands “feel” much more in tune with local culture, a culture which is very strongly informed by Muslim values. Read more »
Why, oh why, oh why? Why would any brand manager take the most unique, distinctive and well known asset of a brand and change it?
Well Mondelez know better and have widened the spaces between the well known chunks of a Toblerone chocolate bar in order to save money (perhaps inspired by Brexit and rising ingredient costs). You can see the original and “gappy” versions of the product above.
Music and song have an amazing power over us and is one of the most powerful tools in brand building (read more here, here and here). Music and song are also barometers of cultural change, and this is what Stuart Maconie explores in his book The People’s Songs, a very readable cultural history of modern Britain. He traces cultural change through 50 of the country’s most popular songs, starting with We’ll Meet Again from 1939 and finishing with Bonkers from 2009 (a span of 60 years). Read more »
McDonalds and Burger King have recently been in the news with their tit-for-tat advertising in France, and in many ways the exchanges are a good summary of the history of advertising between the two. Whatever you think of their burgers, or of fast food in general, the story of McDonalds and Burger King communications has frequently been the story of the small guy chasing after (and reacting to) the big guy. Through its history and size, McDonalds often seems to have had the upper hand and the more consistent brand story (although things seem to be changing more recently).
The central argument of Brand esSense is that brands can leverage multiple touch points to enhance their brand identity by sending consistent messages across the stories they tell, the symbolism that they use and the way that they engage the different senses in customer experience of interacting with the brand. Building consistency and linkage across brand stories, symbols and sensory experience enables brands to build stronger assets that increase the mental and physical availability (i.e., visibility) that drive brand growth (read more on this here).
Coca-Cola recently announced a new strapline for the brand, uniting all the different variants of the brand. As Coca-Cola spend more than 3 billion dollars a year on advertising this is quite a big event. The new strapline of “Taste the feeling” replaces “Open happiness”. This strikes me as a step backwards for the brand on two levels. Firstly, they are moving back from a more emotion based positioning to one that is much more functional. And secondly, I really don’t see how “Taste the feeling” differentiates the brand from a multitude of others. Read more »
In This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin explored the psychology of music, and in The World in Six Songs he turns to music, culture and human nature. He discusses six different ways in which music and song communicate emotions and ideas, covering friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge and love, arguing that these songs are the building blocks of human nature. This is a great read on the role of music in all societies and how it has shaped and reflects human culture. I couldn’t help but notice that the six songs Levitiin discusses cover the range of human motivations and emotional goals. Read more »
In Brand esSense I use many examples of brands that have been successful in finding and articulating a clear and consistent emotional positioning, including at least one Unilever brand. Having just finished fieldwork on a project to understand the meaning of beauty to Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia, I am in the process of writing up our findings on how beauty really feels and they are fascinating. As part of writing up, I have been spending time looking at beauty advertising in the two markets to understand how different brands are currently talking about beauty.
Successful brands understand both the universal qualities of human behavior and the cultural context of the local markets in which they operate. Thus, good brand management integrates universals of human nature with locally relevant nurturing through the prism of culture.
So do semiotics and neuromarketing have much in common? Although there has been little interaction between behavioral scientists and semioticians, they share more than is commonly acknowledged and are often solving the same problem from different perspectives. Read more »