Saturday, May 8, 2010

Do you believe in fascination?

Sally Hogshead's latest book is not your standard reheated-leftover, marketing overview. It's a concise, but story-driven read about emotional branding and fascination. According to Sally, fascination is what ultimately drives us. In everything. It influences our situation responses, persuasive capabilities, and brand opinions.

She's dissected fascination into seven major emotional triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust. And, if you're curious, you can determine your main personality triggers through her F Score test. Mine were prestige (primary), lust (secondary), and trust (dormant). So apparently I could use some more luxury brand accounts.

Psychology and advertising have always gone together in a Wizard of Oz sort of way. The intended audience sees the brand magic without realizing an advertising mastermind is behind the curtain – pulling the strings and ensuring the brand personality appears effortlessly fascinating.

Fascination leads to a desire for belief. Without audience belief, you have nothing. Start over.

One of my favorite Mad Men scenes is an over-the-top attempt to gain client creative buy-in. It's a complete inundation of all seven fascination triggers. They cut it off before the final table-turning statement. After Draper steps down from his soapbox, the realigned client says he's looking forward to the campaign results. Draper calmly replies, "It's not a science, Hugh, we'll do our best."

It really isn't a science, but there is a rough process for emotional branding. I'd say it goes something like this:

1. Fascinate the audience. What is the core idea that makes the brand unique and exciting? Develop a brand atmosphere and experience around that idea.

2. Establish belief. Can the brand deliver what's been promised? Verify brand benefits.  

3. Inspire participation. How can you encourage the audience to create supportive brand content? Be adaptive and stay relevant.

4. Repeat. Outdo what you just did.

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