Tapping into emotions is key for marketing, and creative marketers have been increasingly turning to neuroscience to boost non-conscious decisions. Chris Christodoulou, CEO of Saddington Baynes, explains how his team used neuroscience to develop a virtual showroom for Honda’s largest European campaign to date, with four key elements that influenced decision-making in audiences.
Every image evokes emotion, and emotional resonance creates deeper engagement. Balancing emotional impact with effective brand messaging has long been the goal of marketers, so if you can tap into emotional response as a brand, you tap into a consumer’s perception, which is known to influence behaviour.
Nearly everyone is a photographer and editor in this modern, digital age. We all snap away on our smartphones and post and share our best shots, and it’s made us all much more visually sophisticated in the process. With consumers bombarded by more than 5,000 brand messages a day, how do you make your imagery truly distinctive and squeeze out that influential emotional resonance?
Four factors of a non-conscious response
Neuromarketing is the key. About 95% of consumer decisions are made non-consciously, and emotional campaigns are more than twice as likely to generate a very high ROI. To accomplish this, you need to go beyond the traditional explicit research tools and utilise an implicit consumer neuroscience testing method that leverages the non-conscious associations of consumers to help you demonstrate the emotional potency and brand-appropriateness of your idea. Particularly, during creative production, you can discover for the first time, which visual levers to pull to optimise the execution of your campaign.
That’s why neuroscience-powered tools and services are seeing rapid adoption – resulting in the relatively new field of neuromarketing. From Facebook’s investment in a dedicated neuroscience centre to our own development of Engagement Insights® at Saddington Baynes, brands can use neuromarketing to get deeper, more robust insights into the emotional impact of images before a campaign goes live.
By studying the consumer’s non-conscious response to a series of visual assets, we measure four key elements that contribute to any successful campaign.
The first is Emotional Pull. To what degree are your consumers non-consciously, emotionally attracted to your campaign imagery and distinctive assets? Next is Attribute Resonance: How much do your consumers non-consciously connect specific design assets with key brand associations? We measure Fit-to-Brand, as well, which tells us to what extent consumers non-consciously connect specific visual assets with the brand. Lastly, Visual Saliency is valuable in showing the degree to which visual assets grab a viewer’s visual attention.
Designed in collaboration with neuromarketing experts Thom Noble and Darren Bridger of Neurostrata, Engagement Insights® helps us optimise content, bringing it in line with a certain brand image or audience reaction. By understanding the implicit triggers behind brand perception and consumer behaviour, we can de-risk production of creative assets for any given marketing campaign. Brands can feel safe in their creative direction and investment.
Implicit versus Explicit thinking
We think in two very different ways. Implicit (system 1) thinking through the limbic system is non-conscious and emotional—it’s incredibly fast, effortless, and involuntary. It’s the immediate gut reaction. By contrast, explicit (system 2) thinking via the prefrontal cortex is all about conscious reasoning. It’s slow and deliberate, following the rules and thinking ahead to future plans.
Think of it like a huge iceberg, where 95% of it is underwater. We can easily see and measure what is above the surface (explicit thought, via focus groups and surveys), and it’s pretty significant on its own. Most marketing models focus on what’s above the surface, that consumers are rational in their decision-making. It what’s below the surface, the massively influential unknown that implicit seeks to measure, because it governs our everyday behaviour.
Both types of thinking are absolutely important, and constantly following your impulsive, emotional triggers without a healthy dose of reasoning on the back end is sure to lead to trouble here and there. Even so, our brains massively favor the emotional response over the rational one, and that non-conscious reaction is critical because it can do so much to sway a decision. That first implicit impression is key, and as author and neuroscientist Clotaire Rapaille posits, if your emotional decision is then confirmed by reason, then it’s like having an intellectual alibi.
How to put neurocreativity into practice
How do you know whether your imagery actually resonates with your brand values? Focus on distinctive assets. Experimenting with creative processes is important, as is testing multiple versions. However, creativity no longer needs to be based on intuition alone. Brands and clients want to be assured with statistics that their campaign will achieve desired results before it launches, and that’s where neuroscience can reinforce your gut instincts with more robust, quantifiable data.
One of our biggest projects to date using Engagement Insights® has been the Real View Test Drive campaign developed with Digitas LBi for Honda Motor Europe. It was HME’s largest pan-European campaign to date, and the company wanted to showcase the key features of four vehicles in a series of online films within a unique Honda space, intended for 22 markets across 17 languages.
What should a uniquely Honda space look like, and how do we design for specific brand values? We built numerous virtual showrooms, each eye-catching and distinctively designed, and in some cases subtly different from others. By studying viewers’ implicit responses to the test imagery, it was clear that certain virtual architectural designs stood apart from the rest. We used that data to enhance and optimize our imagery.
Ultimately, almost 60 minutes of content was produced across 20 digital films. Using video content optimised by Engagement Insight®, visitors spent six times or 13.5 minutes longer on the Honda Motors Europe’s site than before the campaign rolled out, and were twice as likely to enter the ‘Honda Car Configurator’ and book a test drive.
Backing up instincts with science
Creatives have had a deep-rooted aversion to traditional research methods because they see them as over-rational and restrictive. But the very things a creative is trying to evoke are the very things Implicit is measuring – so why not back up your instincts with science?
By evaluating the way that consumers think and feel rather than asking them what they think, which changes how they feel, or what they want you to hear, you yield quantified, robust data that reveals cause and effect triggers and provides fresh, deeper insights that mean more optimised and relevant marketing assets.
Implicit testing is a liberator—de-risk the production of your creative by going beyond opinion and guesswork to augment your instincts and avoid weeks of endless debate. Consumers are emotional, and neuromarketing via Engagement Insights® is the best way to ensure that your assets have that necessary emotional pull and brand resonance to be truly distinctive and impactful.
In other words, if you want to know how your consumers feel about your brand, don’t ask them.
By Chris Christodoulou