Emotional vs rational messages in communication during global recession and Nigel Hollis

sale_vs_love_in_advertising

Traveling at a 110 km per hour can be good for your brain or bad – you be the judge of that. I’m on my way home from Sälen and since I’m not behind the wheel I had some time over to get one of my thoughts out of my head. Thank god for 3G.

The other day as I was reading the morning paper it made me sad to see how many brands had gone from brand communication to price communication. The entire paper was filled with SALE, LOW PRICE, OFFER etc. Of course it is the global recession luring desperate brand owners away from making people love their brands and instead trying to buy customers. A strategy that is quite stupid and short term, especially in paid media channels like print.

As I continued reading the paper I came to think about Nigel – Nigel Hollis, Chief Global Analyst with Millward Brown writes one of the better strategy blogs online. In one of his latest posts ‘Less is not more’ he guided me to a report he wrote already last year about ‘Marketing During Recession’. In that reports he talks about hands-on survival tactics on how keep your brand alive during the recession. He writes about the established relationship between share of voice (SOV) and share of market (SOM).

“When a brand’s share of voice is greater than its share of market, it is likely to grow its market share in the coming year. (if you hadn’t heard about this it’s time you did). Therefore, companies that increase their marketing investment when others are cutting back have an opportunity to substantially improve the standing of their backs.”

Makes sense doesn’t it?

Still the most common reaction in a recession is that brands will cut down on their marketing activities and especially move from brand communication to price communication when in fact the opportunity to strengthen your brand and it’s share of voice is obviously the most effective as most other brands within your branch will probably do the opposite.

Nigel also writes:

“In any communication channel, the best way to leverage your spend is to put it behind high-quality creative. A meta-analysis of econometric sales modeling published in Admap (February 2006) found creative to be the biggest potential multiplier of profit (other than market size). Across a wide variety of categories, brands, and channels, Paul Dyson and Karl Weaver found that creative had five times as much impact on profit as did budget allocation.”

Yihaaa!

Then how should you think when you’re constructing your advertising and communication, when should you speak the emotional language and when you should be as rational as a greyhound bus – to really get the best out of that ‘SOV’. That’s what I had on my mind today while heading for Stockholm today.

Brands tend to, either emotionalize their communication, or go for the bang (price) straight away. Often do they keep the message all through the consumer contact points no matter where and why they’re interacting with the brand.

I believe none of these ways are right. Instead continue to act as a strong brand and a market leader but adapt your communication depending on where in the consumer lifecycle you communicate and if it’s a media channel you control or pay for. I’ve created this simple sketch below to showcase my thoughts about when you should emotionalize your communication and when you should be rational about your products. This goes for idea, photography, idea, copy and showing prices.

media_constructing_message1The simple guide to emotional and rational communication

Brands should strive for integration and develop an idea that can be adapted to each and every channel, all the way from paid channels like TV, print and outdoor to their own controlled channels like point of sale, websites and social media activities etc. Richer channels like TV deserves richer and more emotional content. We want to be entertained when we know nothing about a product or service. Once we’re pursuing something we are turning into more rational people and we want answers. Much like the old AIDAS model. What’s also important is the fact that once you’ve gotten peoples attention they tend to search for more information.

Jeff Jarvis says in WWGD “If you are a dentist, don’t say you are a smile doctor, say you are a dentist because no one searches for a smile doctor”.

So, to sum things up. Go read Nigels report. Spend money on marketing & communication, especially when the times are tough. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you will sell a lot more because you’re communicating a lower price in media channels like TV or Print. You’ll only end up driving people to price runner and then you’ve got nothing that makes them stick with your brand. Create emotions and make people love you. Then serve them the hard facts once they’ve moved towards your own channels.

What do you think?

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  • Max

    Trying to take one of my clients to that way of thinking. He has a Brand not considered by customers and we have proposed to him a viral/unconventional strategies to bring people to talk about his brand.
    Reaction useless: And how could I sell my products this year?
    :(

  • Max

    Trying to take one of my clients to that way of thinking. He has a Brand not considered by customers and we have proposed to him a viral/unconventional strategies to bring people to talk about his brand.
    Reaction useless: And how could I sell my products this year?
    :(

  • http://www.theplanninglab.com/ Leon

    Johan, sorry to say, but your perspective on communications planning is somewhat outdated.

    First of all, the AIDA model has never been empirically proven. I wrote a piece about this some time ago which sums up the last forty years of various communications theories used in advertising:
    http://theplanninglab.typepad.com/theplanninglab/2008/02/read-this-if-yo.html

    Turning the media strategy on AIDA into a customer journey is simplifying and therefore alluring. Yet, there are no guarantees or proof that the consumer will actually consume media/messages in this order, and what will happen if the order isn’t ABCD, but rather ADBC (as an example).
    Linearity in media consumtion is also irrelevant for product categories where media exposure and consumtion are uncorrelated. Consider cars for example. The role for communications is not to funnel the customer into sales, because decision making is both complex and car purchases happen rather seldom.

    Secondly, the use of integrated communications as a standard setup rather than a built solution is questionable. Remember that this concept comes from a time where clients marketing budgets were much larger than they are today and where agencies promoted this concept to get as much of the clients wallet as possible. Ogilvy 360° is a good example of a 90s business model. The main point is that one channel can have an equally big impact as eight different ones if executed correctly. A fist hits harder than five fingers.

    Third, I disagree with the notion that some channels/formats are more creative than others. Why? Because the creative potential is not dependent on format/channel, but rather what happens in the mind of the customer. Therefore a banner ad can be more creative than a print ad, and POS can be more creative than TVC. Another perspective is that behavioral shifts change media consumption itself. As an example, the way radio is used today is changing a lot because people sit in front the computer while listening to radio. This opens up new possibilities to combine the two into something new. Standard way of thinking media planning gives you standard solutions, but if we really believe that creativity is key to brand building and profitability we must also challenge the traditional media planning format and use these as part of the message rather than holding them. That includes inventing new channels.

  • http://www.theplanninglab.com Leon

    Johan, sorry to say, but your perspective on communications planning is somewhat outdated.

    First of all, the AIDA model has never been empirically proven. I wrote a piece about this some time ago which sums up the last forty years of various communications theories used in advertising:
    http://theplanninglab.typepad.com/theplanninglab/2008/02/read-this-if-yo.html

    Turning the media strategy on AIDA into a customer journey is simplifying and therefore alluring. Yet, there are no guarantees or proof that the consumer will actually consume media/messages in this order, and what will happen if the order isn’t ABCD, but rather ADBC (as an example).
    Linearity in media consumtion is also irrelevant for product categories where media exposure and consumtion are uncorrelated. Consider cars for example. The role for communications is not to funnel the customer into sales, because decision making is both complex and car purchases happen rather seldom.

    Secondly, the use of integrated communications as a standard setup rather than a built solution is questionable. Remember that this concept comes from a time where clients marketing budgets were much larger than they are today and where agencies promoted this concept to get as much of the clients wallet as possible. Ogilvy 360° is a good example of a 90s business model. The main point is that one channel can have an equally big impact as eight different ones if executed correctly. A fist hits harder than five fingers.

    Third, I disagree with the notion that some channels/formats are more creative than others. Why? Because the creative potential is not dependent on format/channel, but rather what happens in the mind of the customer. Therefore a banner ad can be more creative than a print ad, and POS can be more creative than TVC. Another perspective is that behavioral shifts change media consumption itself. As an example, the way radio is used today is changing a lot because people sit in front the computer while listening to radio. This opens up new possibilities to combine the two into something new. Standard way of thinking media planning gives you standard solutions, but if we really believe that creativity is key to brand building and profitability we must also challenge the traditional media planning format and use these as part of the message rather than holding them. That includes inventing new channels.

  • http://www.ronnestam.com/ ronnestam

    Leon,

    I think not.

    But I do think I should have written a 10 times longer post when I read your comment since you you’ve seem to misunderstood it. And if you have then others will definitely do. In my brain thoughts on how copy supports SEO vs emotional messages creating interest and love for brands made this post happen. Your feedback comment is all in all based on traditional planning and that’s probably why we see this different.

    For example your comment ‘A fist hits harder than five fingers’ automatically leaves out the fact that everything communicates and no matter what you think people will sooner or later touch the product. If you’ve then integrated everything like for example Apple does, those ‘five fingers’ will tickle you all the way to the bank.

    Nothing! Nothing can be left out. Saying you can create communication in one channel not caring for the others is…bad.

    I off course think many of your comments here are valid but you’re missing the big picture. I was not buzzing about AIDAS but instead was aiming for clarifying that brands should think about where and when they emotionalize communication vs rationalize it. Neither did I talk about creativity but instead Emotional and Rational communication. creativity was a ‘legend’. I did not intend to write about linear communication as well but it seems it turned out that way ;)

    Probably to complex to blog about but since I’m rather logging my thoughts than blogging them I had to :)

    (Ogilvy 360° is a shitty example and if you think they’ve done integrated communication you don’t know what that is. They integrate visual concepts through many different channels. That is not integration. Integration is about treating every single channel in a way that is optimum. )

  • http://www.ronnestam.com ronnestam

    Leon,

    I think not.

    But I do think I should have written a 10 times longer post when I read your comment since you you’ve seem to misunderstood it. And if you have then others will definitely do. In my brain thoughts on how copy supports SEO vs emotional messages creating interest and love for brands made this post happen. Your feedback comment is all in all based on traditional planning and that’s probably why we see this different.

    For example your comment ‘A fist hits harder than five fingers’ automatically leaves out the fact that everything communicates and no matter what you think people will sooner or later touch the product. If you’ve then integrated everything like for example Apple does, those ‘five fingers’ will tickle you all the way to the bank.

    Nothing! Nothing can be left out. Saying you can create communication in one channel not caring for the others is…bad.

    I off course think many of your comments here are valid but you’re missing the big picture. I was not buzzing about AIDAS but instead was aiming for clarifying that brands should think about where and when they emotionalize communication vs rationalize it. Neither did I talk about creativity but instead Emotional and Rational communication. creativity was a ‘legend’. I did not intend to write about linear communication as well but it seems it turned out that way ;)

    Probably to complex to blog about but since I’m rather logging my thoughts than blogging them I had to :)

    (Ogilvy 360° is a shitty example and if you think they’ve done integrated communication you don’t know what that is. They integrate visual concepts through many different channels. That is not integration. Integration is about treating every single channel in a way that is optimum. )

  • http://www.theplanninglab.com/ Leon

    I’m well aware of the qualities of the Ogilvy perspective on “integrated” comms – my point was to illustrate that this concept, like many other marketing fads (last year it was UGC, this year its social media) are driven by business needs rather than consumer needs (i.e. I KNOW it’s crap). This is also my main objection towards presenting generalised “rules” on how things work without presenting the problem. Constants can be variables – if you know the rules you can break them. That’s the planning perspective, but I wouldn’t call it traditional, I would call it common sense with a healthy dose of skepticism and “turning things upside down”.

    As to using Apple Computer (which everybody adores but very few if any has been able to copy) as a best practices reference, I think you are overlooking the fact that the problem of most companies isn’t the lack of innovative solutions (these are everywhere). It’s the lack of vision and organisational drive to change that’s the real problem. The code to crack is not innovative marketing/advertising solutions per se, but how to get CEOs and marketing departments to “think different” (no joke intended). Maybe that’s where your energy and passion (which I think you have a lot of) should lie: as an organisational change agent. Just a thought.

    Instead of talking about of lack of integration, maybe we should be talking about lack of fascination?

  • http://www.theplanninglab.com Leon

    I’m well aware of the qualities of the Ogilvy perspective on “integrated” comms – my point was to illustrate that this concept, like many other marketing fads (last year it was UGC, this year its social media) are driven by business needs rather than consumer needs (i.e. I KNOW it’s crap). This is also my main objection towards presenting generalised “rules” on how things work without presenting the problem. Constants can be variables – if you know the rules you can break them. That’s the planning perspective, but I wouldn’t call it traditional, I would call it common sense with a healthy dose of skepticism and “turning things upside down”.

    As to using Apple Computer (which everybody adores but very few if any has been able to copy) as a best practices reference, I think you are overlooking the fact that the problem of most companies isn’t the lack of innovative solutions (these are everywhere). It’s the lack of vision and organisational drive to change that’s the real problem. The code to crack is not innovative marketing/advertising solutions per se, but how to get CEOs and marketing departments to “think different” (no joke intended). Maybe that’s where your energy and passion (which I think you have a lot of) should lie: as an organisational change agent. Just a thought.

    Instead of talking about of lack of integration, maybe we should be talking about lack of fascination?

  • http://www.ronnestam.com/ ronnestam

    Now were talking. Organisational drive or actually people within the organisation willing to loose their jobs. I believe the way to start changing is to simplify and not making things too complex.

    Following your comment I started thinking there’s room for a new event. This week Guldägget is coming up and I can’t see anything that really drives change. Most of the stuff secures peoples payrolls and positions.

    Russel Davies has been running Interesting for a while. I think something in that direction but even a notch more on the edge would be great.

    The stuff where touching here (cause the comment fields doesn’t allow for better discussions I think) should be debated somewhere where people dare to challenge myths and established truths…

  • http://www.ronnestam.com ronnestam

    Now were talking. Organisational drive or actually people within the organisation willing to loose their jobs. I believe the way to start changing is to simplify and not making things too complex.

    Following your comment I started thinking there’s room for a new event. This week Guldägget is coming up and I can’t see anything that really drives change. Most of the stuff secures peoples payrolls and positions.

    Russel Davies has been running Interesting for a while. I think something in that direction but even a notch more on the edge would be great.

    The stuff where touching here (cause the comment fields doesn’t allow for better discussions I think) should be debated somewhere where people dare to challenge myths and established truths…

  • http://www.minegoestoeleven.com/ Per Robert Öhlin

    Thisconversation proves that communication is a complex task. These days I often stumble upon people that use the same terms and mean different things. For example ”emotional” is not synonymous to branding. You are emotional when you create a message that tickles the sensory parts of the brain. A brand message can be emotional and rational at the same time. Take the old IKEA ads that used to communicate price by comparing the IKEA price with the price on posh street (”fina gatan”). That’s a highly rational benefit that also brands IKEA.

    Rational, on the other hand, is a message based on hard fact alone. Let’s say you’re flogging a bookshelf. If you say ”50% off” you are stating a rational argument. But if you say ”Pay half now and nothing later” you are communicating to the rational parts of the brain as well as to the emotional parts.

    What I saying is that you should always try to be emotional, if it’s possible. This way you can differentiate on two levels: rational and emotional.

    Complex? Yes. It taps into the old fight about style and substance, which is a very enigmatic area. Especially since a lot of things these days points in the direction where style wins over substance – a view on advertising that hardly anyone dared to opinionate a decade ago.

    Furthermore, the idea of emotional communication as a seduction tool is also a bit dusty. The whole point of communication is not to convince a consumer about a brand’s benefit, not even to seduce her into believing it, but to evoke a deep truth that the consumer cherish. A message that clings authentic deep in the heart of the consumer.

    You know that I agree with your opinion on integration: that branding is basically built on the touchpoints towards the outer world.

    But I have to agree with Leon on the demise of the AIDAS formula. Let’s bury the damned thing for good. Also I sympathize with his opinion on the lack of leadership and fascination.

    And talking about what’s lacking, let me add knowledge to the list.

  • http://www.minegoestoeleven.com Per Robert Öhlin

    Thisconversation proves that communication is a complex task. These days I often stumble upon people that use the same terms and mean different things. For example ”emotional” is not synonymous to branding. You are emotional when you create a message that tickles the sensory parts of the brain. A brand message can be emotional and rational at the same time. Take the old IKEA ads that used to communicate price by comparing the IKEA price with the price on posh street (”fina gatan”). That’s a highly rational benefit that also brands IKEA.

    Rational, on the other hand, is a message based on hard fact alone. Let’s say you’re flogging a bookshelf. If you say ”50% off” you are stating a rational argument. But if you say ”Pay half now and nothing later” you are communicating to the rational parts of the brain as well as to the emotional parts.

    What I saying is that you should always try to be emotional, if it’s possible. This way you can differentiate on two levels: rational and emotional.

    Complex? Yes. It taps into the old fight about style and substance, which is a very enigmatic area. Especially since a lot of things these days points in the direction where style wins over substance – a view on advertising that hardly anyone dared to opinionate a decade ago.

    Furthermore, the idea of emotional communication as a seduction tool is also a bit dusty. The whole point of communication is not to convince a consumer about a brand’s benefit, not even to seduce her into believing it, but to evoke a deep truth that the consumer cherish. A message that clings authentic deep in the heart of the consumer.

    You know that I agree with your opinion on integration: that branding is basically built on the touchpoints towards the outer world.

    But I have to agree with Leon on the demise of the AIDAS formula. Let’s bury the damned thing for good. Also I sympathize with his opinion on the lack of leadership and fascination.

    And talking about what’s lacking, let me add knowledge to the list.

  • http://www.ronnestam.com/ ronnestam

    A lighthouse use more than one color to guide ships to safety but usually one color shines stronger. It’s like that with communication. If you’re writing copy for an online store or maybe even a blog – emotions has to be in there but more important is the fact that you’re relevant and rational cause that’s how people will find you. The IKEA example is like you say, yet they injected lots of emotions in it.

    Of course it’s not an attempt to stop injecting emotions everywhere but instead a way of thinking differently depending on where you’re at. And I personally do not agree that AIDAS should be thrown over board even though I do not think it’s the one model to go by.

    Fun this :D

  • http://www.ronnestam.com ronnestam

    A lighthouse use more than one color to guide ships to safety but usually one color shines stronger. It’s like that with communication. If you’re writing copy for an online store or maybe even a blog – emotions has to be in there but more important is the fact that you’re relevant and rational cause that’s how people will find you. The IKEA example is like you say, yet they injected lots of emotions in it.

    Of course it’s not an attempt to stop injecting emotions everywhere but instead a way of thinking differently depending on where you’re at. And I personally do not agree that AIDAS should be thrown over board even though I do not think it’s the one model to go by.

    Fun this :D