DÜSSELDORF: Marketers are taught that brands should be consistent in their marketing activities but it is the element of surprise that achieves the cut-through they are looking for.

Dr Gordon Euchler and Ton Hollander, head of planning and chief creative officer respectively at BBDO Düsseldorf, and Dr Christian von Thaden, CEO of marketing consultancy Batten &Co, address this topic in the March issue of Admap.

In How to build brands through surprise, they note research shows it is easier for the brain to process things that are well known – hence consistent communication and consistent brand appearance should embed a brand in a consumer’s neural networks.

But, they argue, this comes at a cost. “The more familiar a stimulus becomes, the lower its stimulating effect and the less the activation.”

When the brain recognises a familiar piece of communication, it anticipates what is coming next and dozes off. “No neural connections are being built, no salience for the brand is created and purchase decisions are not being made easier,” the authors say.

The use of emotional triggers is frequently advocated in advertising but the strongest effect to activate people does not come from the emotions like curiosity, disgust, joy, fear, anger or sadness, they note, but rather from the ability of communication to surprise: “Surprises open the door to our brains.”

Some brands opt to stake a claim to one particular emotion but this can be unnecessarily restrictive.

“While the best people in advertising are master storytellers and hence able to construct surprises, there is also a way of making planned surprises possible for the rest of us,” the authors maintain.

“All you need to do is stop looking at emotions in isolation, but as an interlinked journey.”

For example, Sony’s Bravia ad which featured balls bouncing down a San Francisco hill was memorable, but following ads built on a similar idea were less so.

Brands should ask what could the next big surprise be? the authors advise. Which emotion can create the biggest tension or the resolution? And where to move next? In this way, a path to surprises can be created.

Freed from the restrictions of brand consistency, brands can be built dynamically, say Euchler, Hollander and von Thaden.

And, they add, the ability to develop something as seemingly uncontrollable as surprise is something few functions within an organisation, other than marketing, can achieve.

Sourced from Admap