Left brain, or right?
Growing up in the Himalayan foothills, I was fortunate to hear exciting real-life tell tales of mountaineers.
They often said this while sipping the fresh Kashmiri kahwa-
“You definitely miss getting a good cup of tea up there.”
This part of their stories, always stuck with me.
My little mind thought that maybe they had short supply of water or tea leaves or whatever.
In middle school, when the science teacher explained how the boiling point of water goes down as you go higher up the hill, I could finally corroborate it scientifically. What they had meant was that unless you get your water to the boiling point of 92°C, the tea does not infuse well. Hence, they were not getting good tea ‘up there’!
Even today, I remember their story more than the scientific information piece.
We human beings, are naturally wired for stories!
Most of us remember those bedtime stories like ‘Ugly Duckling’ & ‘Cinderella’ & ‘Seven Dwarfs’- even though we heard them some 40+ years ago. The early man cave drawings that the historians do their doctorate degrees in, were not just casual doodles, they were communicative stories!
Imagine going to a Supermarket or a Hypermarket of sorts to pick up a gallon of milk or a pound of chicken or your cereal supply or that running shoe. More than often, by the time you reach the check-out counter, your cart is overflowing with colorful packets of ‘God-knows-what’. You didn’t ‘need’ all those items but you ‘want’ them.
Yes, without talking in absolutes, one can say that part of the driving force is ‘aspiration’.
Let’s scrutinize this hypothesis with an example.
You wanted a running shoe.
A decent waterproof one with a good sole, soft cushion, and firm ankle support was available for £30.00.
The one you picked up was what your brother’s athletic friend recommended, even though it came at a whooping £210.00.
The shoe you bought came in a recycled eco-friendly box, with a strategically-placed audacious logo and a ‘no-nonsense’ dramatic punchline. You had every so often seen its story on social media, thanks to cookies, because you had searched for the product online. (so much for privacy 😊)
You ‘were convinced’ that this shoe was going to fulfill all the promises it claimed and had ‘most of the answers’ you wanted to tick in your checklist for that good running shoe. You related with your brother’s athletic friend’s story, and the story you saw in that brand’s insta story, all the dots connected to form a pattern, and you fell in love.
What we saw in action was the fact that a label invokes emotions in several ways & subconsciously drives customer decisions, and this isn’t even over-rated. The left side of the brain which kept saying that this shoe is seven times more expensive, was tranquilized and put to sleep!
That got me thinking……
Why do companies invest millions of dollars in brand-building exercises?
Do they get the ROI for all that’s invested?
The truth is that most successful brands- those who have nailed it- invest into one key aspect of brand-building:
When a customer buys your product, he does not just buy the item, he connects to your story, vibes with your vibe, becomes a character in your story, and buys ‘into’ your brand.
Working in the food sector for way too long and always enthralled by its organic, fast-paced innovation, I’ve been a regular at ANUGAs of the world. A teetotaler 99% of the time, I find myself permanently fascinated by the wine aisles. The gorgeous-looking bottles, their unique fonts with that dash of gold- just where it should be- and their oh-so-communicative labels! Frequently, the wine brand logo/ label has a sketch or illustration of an estate or vineyard, summarizing its authority and genuineness. Sometime brands focused on youthful patrons in their forties, even venture into playful and light-hearted artworks. You get narrated more stories than a public library!
Each label, with its unique story, invokes a set of emotions. Each label, whether it belongs to the top-notch wine brand or a small family-owned one, has a history and an exceptional tale to tell. If you’re lucky, sometimes, the vineyard owner is present himself at the booth and takes great pride in sharing the wine story on his label.
The successful wine brands even recognize one interesting finding. They follow the ‘Bikini principle’. Not underestimating their target audience's intelligence, they tell their story effectively but maintain the suspense, allowing people to arrive to their own conclusions.
Customers have yawned themselves to sleep looking at uninteresting & copied labels from brands who had nothing specific to say. What’s on your package or your labels captures your brand’s personality- passing on the warmth worth, hope, eccentricity, reminiscence, authority, healthfulness, eco-friendliness, and so much more using your signature logos, colors, fonts, artworks, and design elements- all working in conjunction to narrate a million stories, and craft countless messages.
When I started teaching Creative Writing & Communication-Skill building, some two decades ago, people would find it absurd. Today, Creative Writing is an integral park of school curriculum. Since people can relate to well-known stories, they offer a great prospect for emotional engagement with a wide audience. As brand owners or builders, we simply need to find and re-purpose shared stories, building narratives that our target audience can connect with. In this overcrowded space of a million brands mushrooming every second, it is time to get- just a bit more creative. While your label, your brand, must invoke the left side of the brain, what really makes the sales is when you trigger the right side of the customer’s brain!
When your potential customer scans an aisle, or an e-store or even his pantry, does your brand or package catch his eye? Does his search end there? Does your package or your label shout aloud to him- say, "Pick me! Because…….!"
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