How can your brand increase its influence on the ‘umwelt’ of your customer?
“Our experience of reality is constrained by our biology” but the effectiveness of your brand’s marketing campaigns should not be constrained by metrics but liberated by the power of creative content.
Brands want to be understood better and have a deeper market penetration. As film-makers making films for brands, we find there is a bottleneck in terms of judging marketing campaign efficiency, especially in the B2B world, where marketing decision makers are constantly trying to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns by scientific methods, such as engagement and interaction on smaller data sets to draw generalized conclusions across the board. But they are missing out on analyzing the emotional interaction they have with their customers, i.e. the “feeling” their customers have when they interact with their brand. Yes, I appreciate that it is not as easily measured as opens, clicks, likes or shares and might be more demanding than just brand sentiment analyses in terms of aggregating key words spoken about your brand on social media, on a positive or negative scale.
So how does one start to define the “feeling” their customer has when it interacts with the brand, especially when their brand is interacting via multiple layers of marketing content, online or offline? The answer lies in understanding your customer’s “umwelt”.
I recently saw a TED talk by Neuroscientist, David Eagleman, on how our human brain operates like a General Purpose CPU, analyzing all forms of chemical and electric signals fed to it. It then processes this information to give us information in the form of a ‘feeling’, from which we then make a sense of our Universe or “umwelt”, which means environment. Interestingly, umwelt for different animals is different. A dog having a keener sense of smell sees the world differently to say a snake or a bat. We as humans are constantly trying to expand our Umwelt by increasing the number of sensory inputs, using technology.
David Eagleman is using Sensory Substitution to help the deaf. Turning sound waves into signals that you can feel via a vest that you wear. “You feel the sonic world around you.” This clearly shows that our brain is capable of processing far more complex information than we think. Another device called – BrainPort – a little electrode grid that sits on your tongue and the video feed gets converted into electro tactile signals, so the blind can see (feel) through their tongue. David clarifies in his talk that all vision ever is “electrochemical signals coursing around your brain.” Your brain doesn’t know where signals come from, it just figures out what to do with them.
So what teachings can we draw from this understanding of the human brain that we can apply to brands in marketing terms. I have made a small list of lessons we can use as takeaway from Eagleman’s talk:
Lesson 1: Your customers engage with your messaging on a subconscious emotional level. Human brain can process far more complex emotions and feelings as sub-text than you might think. Hence, make your content presentation more intelligent, witty and have more of a character, instead of being dry and flat.
Lesson 2: Create more emotive marketing content. Even if it is an informational or training video or written collateral, every communication, print or video will have a sub-text, which is being analysed by your audience on a very subjective, emotional level, which they are feeling, when they read or hear it. An economical way to check this is to get your marketing team or a group of colleagues sometimes unrelated to the subject matter to preview it and tell you how they feel about the collateral, when they experience it.
Lesson 3: As David put it – “There is a difference between accessing (analysing) big data and experiencing it.”
Lesson 4: Learn to fit your content in the slice of reality of your customer group, which could be drastically different for different niche groups.
The picture above is what we humans see and define as our known world or umwelt. What we see is less than a ten-trillionth of the electromagnetic waves of what is out there. Because humans don’t have the biological receptors for picking up the rest of the spectrum, like honeybees include ultra violet in their view of the world, we build machines in hospitals to pick up frequencies from the x-ray range and so on.
The most effective brand marketing campaigns are those that communicate not just the information but the ‘feeling’ via their content. Give your marketing content a soul and in turn you will find that your brand’s influence on the umweltof your customer is far greater.