A more complete understanding of what inspires people to buy and consume, and how to better trigger such a response, has the potential to alter entire economies. Time magazine didn't name consumer researcher and author Martin Lindtstrom one of the world's 100 most influential people of 2009 for nothing.
On Sunday morning at IDBA, the author of Brandsense, Brandchild and Clicks, Bricks & Brands presented his latest book, Buy-ology, and introduced a "contextual branding" system aimed at the next generation of integrated marketing and media planning.
"Building a brand, especially a food brand, with staying power requires keen insight and understanding of the psychology of selling," he says. "Right now, 83 percent of all commercial communication appeals to only one sense–our sight. However, 75 percent of our day-to-day emotions and buying decisions are based on smell. Why, then, should you rely solely on a logo?"
Lindstrom advocates a new type of branding, and he has the scientific studies to back it up. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a type of brain scan, he and his team have plotted what points in people's brains are active during purchasing decisions, and based on these results, he encourages an appeal to emotion by making your brand pliable, malleable, in fact, "smashable."
"Smash your brand" Lindstrom says. What he means it to make sure branding is a fluid thing, much more than a single recognizable logo. Elements of a "smashed" brand can be repackaged and reshaped in various forms, and the individual elements can stand alone.
Lindstom maintains that the future of branding will center around addressing the five senses with various elements of a "smashed" brand. Some of the most successfully branded products, namely Coca Cola, are beginning to advertise on premises as small as the characteristic shape of a coke bottle to the sound of a bottle opening and being poured over ice. McDonalds has deconstructed it's Ronald McDonald character to employ individual elements, like the bright yellow gloves or comically red hair, as visual representations of the intangible brand. McDonalds even scrapped plans to build a better soda top and straw combination, as they were afraid to lose the characteristic squeek of a straw plunging into the drink.
The idea is to keep yourself from limiting your branding efforts to the two dimensional constraints of a logo. Lindstrom suggests appealing to each of the five senses in branding efforts, and notes that the effectiveness of the appeal to more than one sense is compounded by the synergy of the sensory appeals working together. "Basically, you have 1 +1 = 3, the value of multi-layered branding is worth more than the sum of its parts."
So what does this mean to bakers? Lindstrom pointed to an in-store bakery in the Southwest that walled off its production facility with glass, allowing customers to see the bread being made in front of their eyes. As dramatic of a visual appeal this created, the glass walls sealed the always important smells in. When business began to decline, they realized their error and piped the bakery air and all the aromas back into the store. Again, balkers can look to the unique position of baked products as highly sensory and emotive, even compared to other packaged foods. Food purchases are as much an emotional decision as a rational one, keep that in mind when building and improving your brand.