OK, its official. Men’s and women’s brains are the same, or so neuroscientist Professor Gina Ripon tells us. Apparently its nurture not nature that makes the sexes different.
As a marketer I find this subject fascinating. Not necessarily the difference between men and women, but the influence that environment has on behaviour. If you can programme a mothering instinct into a girl by giving her dolls to play with or create a champion sportsman by playing ball with boy at an impressionable age then surely you can make anybody do anything?
It makes sense of course that our responses to things should be influenced by our experiences. For instance, if you burn yourself on an iron you’ll understandably be wary of irons in future. Some of these experiences are so powerful that they are passed down the generations in our genes, like the fundamental “fight or flight” instincts that influence so many of our actions today.
The same principle drives the selection process that we call friendships. We gravitate towards people with whom we share experiences, values and opinions. The greater the common area the stronger the relationship. We draw conclusions about these values and opinions from their actions. It’s the same with our relationship with brands, which s why I call these relationships “brandships”. Brandships are built on consistency. The more consistent your words and actions, the quicker and stronger the connections will be made. Of course, the reverse is equally true, inconsistencies will reduce your success in building brandships.
While there is only one brain driving the actions of a person, the individual brains of every single employee are driving the actions of your brand and you have to control them all. For your brand to achieve its potential everyone involved in it has not only to know and understand the key drivers of the brand personality, but buy into it, take ownership and feel compelled to contribute to it. That’s the challenge for today’s brand-builder. The process is what we call “internal marketing”.
You hear a lot of talk about re-branding and I encounter many failing businesses that believe that all all the have to do to fix their sales decline is change their logo or their name. However, as Price Waterhouse Coopers discovered, following the Enron scandal, there is more to a re-branding than that. Turning unpopularity into popularity is a long and tricky process that I have been refining for years with my Brand Discovery programme. A brand is not a veneer that you can just apply like a mask.
For Johnny No Friends to become Mr Popular demands positive and consistent proof of fundamental changes in attitude. You have to walk the talk if you want to convince people you’ve changed, which takes time. It also brings us back to the way the brain assimilates experiences. Branding is more than skin deep.
March 20, 2014