Innovation Is the Most Powerful Form of Marketing™ has long served as the raison d’etre and ethos of Redscout. This simple phrase acknowledges that brands are much more than stories told by marketers – they are the sum of emotions, experiences and associations consumers connect to a product or service.
We recently hosted author, branding consultant and Redscout alumnus Daryl Weber at New York’s storied Rizzoli Bookstore for a night of discussion about the complex relationship between the human brain and brands. Weber’s new book, Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands, explores the complexity of this relationship through the lens of the subconscious and human emotion.
“We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think,” Weber stated, quoting renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. He then went on to discuss our evolving understanding of how the human brain processes information, highlighting the importance of our emotions by explaining that our logical, rational mind often lags well behind our emotional reactions.
Weber points to this connection between our emotions and subconscious as a critical area of development in the world of marketing, pushing the industry toward new forms of communication. One of the forms he spoke about, meta-communication, addresses the non-verbal cues that are often an afterthought if considered at all in advertising.
“We’re learning about brands all the time without realizing it,” Weber said. These nuanced, abstract bits of information have a profound impact on the perceptions consumers have of brands and ultimately, heavily influence purchasing behavior.
The night’s discussion left the crowd anxious to dive deeper into Weber’s book and posed some interesting questions we have been kicking around the halls of Redscout:
How can brands tap into the emotional conversation happening beneath the surface?
Redscout was recently engaged to understand what drives consumers’ drink choices. As the team looked for ways to distill their findings into clear consumer profiles, it became evident that interactions with the category were much more nuanced. The mood, the place and the people consumers are with are just as powerful predictors of choice as flavor preference. Through this work we helped our partner understand how a campaign is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle, and the key to influencing choice is designing and innovating around the entire experience.
In what ways can emotion inform innovation and brand strategy?
While studying the evolving definition of luxury for a recent project, a team of Redscout strategists were left surprised by what they heard and didn’t hear in dozens of conversations with luxury consumers and professionals. Mention or discussion of tangible, physical attributes of luxury products were almost never made. Instead, the conversations were filled with expressions of emotion and stories of relationships forged with a product or brand. We found harnessing the power of the abstract meaning and emotions surrounding luxury as the basis for a powerful strategic recommendation.
How does all of this change “business as usual?”
Weber urged us to embrace the complexity of the brain and its ability to process information as we think about the brands we work with. He challenged us to push beyond thinking of brands in terms of positioning statements and adjectives on a sheet of paper and to remember that “how we say something may actually be much more important than what we say.” This is why Warby Parker has a Blue-Footed Booby and fixed gear bike on their brand moodboard – they have nothing to do with glasses but everything to do with the powerfully nuanced way their brand lives in the minds of the consumers.
The Salon was a reminder that the brands and products we create must be as sophisticated and dynamic as the people they’re built for.
Kyla Wagman and Graham McMullin contributed to Redscout's event presence and reporting.