A Call For Brand Magic In A Time Of Strife

As neuroscience opens the brain to marketers' scrutiny, the electrical flashes that arise in response to stimuli make it increasingly apparent that what drives purchase decision-making is actually a primal mechanism of the mind called attachment.

This signal of a potent emotional attachment is the foundation for brand success. It's a form of primal brand magic, built on a near-mythical brand story that unconsciously transports one from the mundane to the imaginational, transforming our inner world and inspiring us to buy.

A brand experience has the potential to actually transform our brain chemistry. The experience of a product/service and its messaging can be transformational in a sensory way and emotionally. More importantly, at the end of a satisfying product experience, our feelings have been transformed into a strong emotional attachment (magical/mystical bond) that endures until proven otherwise.

Fostering magical brand connections is particularly important in this "new normal" era of consumer frugality because an emotional connection creates consumer loyalty. But how can CMOs begin the quest for the magic brand grail? These three keys will unlock the doors to begin the journey:



1. Understand the "right brain" of your category.

Marketers always have a deep understanding of their category's "left brain," the numbers and functional benefits. The "right brain" attributes often are unexplored. What visual, sensorial and emotional benefits can your brand deliver and own that work together with your product's attributes to create an unbreakable bond that turns your consumers into brand enthusiasts?

This can start with highly projective techniques like portrait building, present and future brand scenarios, and story creation with all of the internal teams that have a stake in the brand: marketing, design, R&D, senior management and your various agencies.

2. Understand the sensorial and emotional palette of your audience.

A lot of research is still left-brain, Q&A-focused. To unveil the magic in your brand, using highly right-brained projective techniques like image sorts, drawing and writing can get at the more elusive sensorial and emotional attributes that are important to your consumer and relevant, meaningful and inspiring in your category.

A great example is Method, which disrupted the established home-cleaning market with a "detox your home" message and a visual position that brought that message to life using simple, clean, highly sensorial shapes and colors that intrigue, inspire and motivate one to buy.

3. Create a Visual Position.

Brand positions are often created in words, although people primarily experience brands visually. But ... a brand's packaging, advertising and overall presence in the world starts with visual symbolism, not words. And unlike our pets at home, who have heightened senses of smell and hearing, humans are primarily sight-driven. Seventy percent of our sense receptors are in our eyes, and 80% of what we learn about the world comes to us visually, yet most brands do not have a visual position that brings the written positioning and story to life.

Visual positioning defines the symbolic territory a brand can occupy to create distinction and often includes overall personality, color and texture palettes, movement (upward like Gillette Mach3 or explosive and outward like Gillette Fusion), energy and other qualities that will unleash your brand's magic.

2 comments about "A Call For Brand Magic In A Time Of Strife ".
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  1. Jennifer Luna from The List, October 21, 2009 at 4:07 p.m.

    Hi Cheryl (and well done!)

    I like this article a lot. It sparked a thought that I wanted to share and get your feedback on: Considering the extreme economic conditions brought on by the recession, it is apparent that numbers, metrics, ROI, ROMI (left-brain stuff!), etc. are more important than ever to marketers and senior-level executives, i.e. business decision makers (and please correct me if I'm wrong, as this is simply the perspective I've gathered over the past year). That said, how do agencies and creative firms demonstrate the importance of "right-brain" brand attributes? I completely agree with your comments on the subject and am wondering how to communicate the value in the sensory branding to marketers during these economic conditions. Thoughts?


  2. Mark allen Roberts from Out of the Box Solutions, LLC, October 21, 2009 at 6:31 p.m.

    It's about intimately understanding the market and the buyer pain and connecting to it authentically. You can brand with intention or do what most market losers do…brand my default. You can read more about branding with intention by downloading my free book; Branding Backwards at my blog .

    Mark Allen Roberts

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