The Fight Is On For People's Attention

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January 08, 2019

by Andrew Wardlaw


The race is now on to create more profound brand experiences.

With each and every year that passes, it seems that life isn’t just speeding up, it’s filling up!

How any of us squeeze all the latest stuff into our waking hours is perplexing. From social media ‘screen time’ to binge watching entire TV seasons on any number of platforms. From 50 million songs on Spotify or Apple Music to podcasts and audio books - which are all on the rise according to industry figures. The gaming industry is now bigger than the film industry. And to top it all, people are now buying more books - although the jury’s out on whether we’re actually reading them.

The New York Times recently reported that Americans are spending half their waking hours looking at a screen - a statistic that is mirrored all over the world. This means that today’s brand manager must not only capture the attention of their target, they must also have a strategy to hold it. From chocolate bars to hand cream, finding ways to generate something more profound is the only way brands can hope to make an impression in the face of so many distractions.

From my vantage point, brands must appeal to more of the human senses to create more 'sticky' experiences.

In recent months, I have highlighted those brands that - by design or by accident - engage the human senses to deliver their promise or claim with greater conviction. Quietly, confidently and tangibly. The Kraken generates more immersive drinking experiences by connecting a mythical story about a sea monster to the darker shade of rum. De Cecco asserts its authenticity with a nuanced construction of its spaghetti. Green & Black’s promise of Velvet is experienced at each and every moment of truth.

But these examples are all exceptions to the rule. Most brands still pursue ‘liking’ as opposed to conviction. But with categories and consumers fragmenting, growth opportunities are more likely to be found by being different and engaging people in ways that win against all other distractions. Can you remember last when you discovered a brand that did this?

As a stand against Dry January, I recently discovered Isle of Harris Gin as a result of a friend's recommendation. The craft gin category may be growing, but it's also awash with contenders. Yet Isle of Harris Gin really drew me in from the very first moment of truth. The bottle goes beyond beautiful to make a clear statement about the brand’s island origins.

Everything about the bottle is reminiscent of the island seas, from its intricate wave pattern to the hint of blue at its base. Even the cork echoes sun-bleached driftwood. This is the gin that feels more personal - served by little bumps and dimples and the tiny fragments of copper and kelp on the label.

The Isle of Harris Gin drinking experience provides a further option of adding hand harvested sugar kelp aromatic water. This is a brand that understands the power of ritual.

It’s also a brilliant example of a brand that grabs attention and holds it. Whatever your category, a deeper understanding of the human senses can help your brand cut through even when conscious awareness is oblivious.

If you’ve been inspired to unlock sensory power for your brand, get in touch to be one of the first to get your hands on our new book. For your FREE copy, drop me A message me and I’ll get one in the post.

Next week: a new article exploring how brands can improve the delivery of a brand promise at each and every moment of truth.

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