Monday, November 17, 2014

Pavlov's Packaging

The design of a package generates expectations that allows us to imagine the pleasure that the product itself will give us. Every time that stand in front of a shelf to decide what to buy, our brain goes through a number of processes that combine our knowledge with our expectations. 

We base our decision on past experiences when picking a tried and true product and also when deciding wether to try a new product or not. In either case we are always moved by desire

Conditioned Desire

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist known primarily for his work in classical conditioning. The concept for which Pavlov is famous is the "conditioned reflex" developed in 1901. He studied salivations among dogs and learned that when a buzzer or metronome was sounded in subsequent time with food being presented to the dog in consecutive sequences, the dog will initially salivate when the food is presented. The dog will later come to associate the sound with the presentation of the food and salivate upon the presentation of stimulus. 

We function similarly than Pavlov's dogs when we are in the presence of a food package, and its design functions as the stimulus of the buzzer. The mere fact of seeing and recognizing a package reminds us of the experience of consuming the product or makes us imagine the experience of eating it if we haven't had it before. 

When we see and hold a package we perceive it with all of our senses, that experience wether good or bad stays registered in our memory as an association with the product and the brand. 

As consumers are bombarded with options, brands get less and less attention in a supermarket shelf. Great packaging design should understand the values and desires of the consumer and connect in a deeper emotional level. We like to think of product packaging as a half-second commercial where great design makes or breaks a sale. 

Great packaging must combine art and science, where sophisticated research and analysis is converted into visually stimulating design. It must look beyond creative talent and seek to understand human behavior and target consumers in a compelling, fresh, and entertaining way. A well done product package delivers the brand message to consumers directly, while its appetite appeal makes a consumer imagine the flavors and experience of consuming the product. Just like a buzzer would make Pavlov's dogs salivate with desire. 

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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Importance of Emotional Branding

Brands are built on the unconscious part of the brain

A couple of years ago the New York Times released an article that made it clear that "over the last fifty years the economic base has shifted from production to consumption. It has gravitated from the sphere of rationality to the realm of desire; from the objective to the subjective; to the realm of psychology."

Simple ideas have turned from being basic concepts to consumer-based concepts. Food is no longer about cooking or chores but about "home and lifestyle design". Airplanes are less about transportation vehicles and more about "travel organizations." We are operating within different sets of values and in order to be relevant brands must understand this changes and compete accordingly.

But what constitutes a great brand concept apt to compete in our new environment? Goods and services alone are not longer enough to attract or retain existing markets or clients. What drives consumers to buy and become loyal to a brand?

In his book Buy-Ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, Martin Lindstrom talks about how we are deeply irrational beings. We make irrational decisions when selecting and purchasing products all the time, most of us are guilty of picking the second magazine instead of the first in a shelf and we can't explain why. He used FMRI methods to test how people react to objects belonging to their own religion and then compared to reactions of objects belonging to beloved brands, amazingly the same areas of the brain are lit on both scenarios, leading us to think that we feel just as strong about religion as we do about some brands.

What are the drivers behind such deep connection? We believe that emotional branding plays a big role. By emotional we  mean how a brand engages consumers on the level of the senses and emotions; how a brand comes to life for people and forges a deeper, lasting connection. This means that understanding people's emotional needs and desires is really, now more than ever, the key to success. Corporations must take definite steps toward building stronger connections and relationships and recognizing their customers as partners. Industry today needs to bring people the products they desire, exactly when they want them, through venues that re both inspiring and intimately responsive to their needs.

Emotional banding provides the means and methodology for connecting products to the consumer in an emotionally profound way. It focuses on the most compelling aspect of the human character: the desire to transcend material satisfaction and experience emotional fulfilment. A brand is uniquely situated to achieve this because it can tap into the aspirational drives that underlie human motivation.

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