What Brands Can Learn from the Habits of Diligent Flossers

What Brands Can Learn from the Habits of Diligent Flossers

  A few years ago, some friends and I formed a garage band. We were terrible, but we had a lot of fun. We felt we needed the nerdiest possible name for the band, so we called ourselves “The Diligent Flossers.” When I worked in marketing on the Johnson & Johnson dental floss brand, we were very interested in how a behavior became a daily habit — especially for something as unpleasant as flossing. One thing we learned about “flossers” was that everybody said they...
Alligator Branding

Alligator Branding

The more we learn about the brain and behavioral science, the more we understand that most of our daily functioning happens pretty much on autopilot. According to Gerald Zaltman, Harvard Emeritus Professor of Business, 95% of our cognitive activity is subconscious. Nobel prize winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman calls this “System 1” thinking. As we drift through the supermarket or Amazon Prime, our reptilian brain is always on. I saw this idea illustrated recently in a...
Is Your Brand Architecture a “House on the Rock”?

Is Your Brand Architecture a “House on the Rock”?

If you drive an hour west from Madison, you will come to one of the prettiest valleys in Wisconsin. On one side of this valley is Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School architectural masterpiece built in 1911. In this studio he designed Fallingwater and the Guggenheim. He spent two years on the design of Taliesin, which was inspired by Michelangelo’s Villa Medici and was meant to emulate the flatness of the plains. Wright had a vision for what he wanted it to be before he...
The Limits of Big Data in Market Research

The Limits of Big Data in Market Research

Big Data seems to be the marketer’s thing these days. For the first time in history we have the number-crunching power to understand massive amounts of real-time data on consumer consumption habits. The modern marketer needs to understand and harness this power. However, despite what big data companies will tell you, there are limits to what it can deliver. Information isn’t insight. The ethnographer and brand innovator Martin Lindstrom recently published Small Data, a book filled with case...
Conservatives and Liberals Share the Same Human Values

Conservatives and Liberals Share the Same Human Values

In this season of political ads, it is easy to start to feel  like the other side 
is idiotic, crazy, or even evil. But then a little voice tells us that maybe they are not bad people, perhaps just a little misguided. It looks like the data support your little voice. In one of the most interesting TED talks last year Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and author of The Righteous Mind, shows how we all (and perhaps even animals) share a common set of human...
Why do 35% of British Adults Sleep with a Teddy Bear?

Why do 35% of British Adults Sleep with a Teddy Bear?

Yes. It’s true. In this 2012 study, Travelodge, a hotel chain, was puzzled by the number of stuffed animals they discovered in their hotel rooms after their (adult) guests had departed. A special teddy bear, a blankie, a binky; these are all examples of what psychologists call a “transitional object.” They help toddlers begin to transition from the constant presence of the mother to an independent state of separation. They remind the child of mom’s love and protection and enable the child to...
Why the Buddha is Cool

Why the Buddha is Cool

At Brandgarten, we are always looking for the timeless human truths brands can tap into to build deeper, more meaningful connections with their fans. So I was struck recently by the similarities between the ancient Buddhist goal of detachment from fear and desire, and the parallels to the teachings of Freud, Jung, and even the Bible, and how brands can learn from this. The story of the Buddha is that he sat down under the Bodhi tree and became the Enlightened One, neither frightened by the...
The Brain is a Storyteller

The Brain is a Storyteller

Human beings have an inherent tendency which behavioral economists call “confirmation bias.” It’s our subconscious habit of choosing evidence that supports our views while we selectively reject evidence that goes against them. Why is this? It’s because the brain is a storyteller. It all happens on a subconscious level and it explains why more evidence does little to sway people from their previously formed views. In fact, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, we tend to dig in our heels...
Branding a College – Connect emotionally with students

Branding a College – Connect emotionally with students

My oldest daughter is currently going through the process of selecting a college to attend next year, so I have spent much of the last year listening to colleges offer their pitches and lots of bubbly students showing us how tasty the cafeteria food is (the food had better be good for what some of these colleges cost). Recently, at one of these universities, we were greeted with a wonderful breakfast and then led across the tree-lined quad to a theater where we were serenaded by the school’s a...
The Power of Ritualistic Behaviors in Branding

The Power of Ritualistic Behaviors in Branding

If we understand brands as props in our own personal mythologies, then we must recognize how important it is to frame brands properly within their ritualistic context. Not all brands are able to tap into this powerful brand-building approach, but many are able to do it very subtly and very successfully. Nearly all of the iconic brands we use every day connect with us as part of ritualistic behaviors we have. The idea that we still perform “rituals” might strike many as outdated in today’s...