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The Power of “Blink” in Branding

The classic scientific approach indicates that one should always develop a hypothesis, then, determine how to measure and prove it. As I look across all the opinions that have been widely discussed since Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” was first published, it is clear that marketing practitioners buy in to the hypothesis that brand choices are often made in an instant. The entire concept of branding means that brands are pre-loaded with unspoken motivators of consumer behavior. However, most brands are locked into traditional survey research which cannot capture these instant choices as they happen. The good news is that neuroscience now offers new tools that can be integrated into existing online research to measure the “blink” response to your brand.

Clearly, much is being learned, and very quickly, regarding effective measurement of the blink response. But, marketers who wait for a final answer on how to measure their brand’s blink response restrict their innovation pipeline and their ability to engage their markets. Those marketers who have embraced an approach are already differentiating their brands and witnessing organic growth from both their innovation pipeline and existing brands.

Here are some fast-track steps that marketers should be taking now to remain competitive and take full advantage of the blink opportunity.

  1. Incorporate response timing measurement into some of your routine studies. Every brand team routinely conducts attitude and usage studies in much the same way that they have been done for 50 years. With online research, it is now easy to add a timing mechanism in that allows you to determine what is driving the blink response for every brand in the category. Pre-tested and post-tested communications that is checked for the blink response is much more effective in the current, ubiquitous, media marketplace. In each case, you will get a “wow” response from your brand team by providing new meaning to what might have formerly been perceived as a routine results presentation.

  2. Build a bridge for your brand team with traditional measures. Most concerns about measures of blink response relate to an understanding of what brand teams can expect to get from the information. They already have an expectation for what they will receive from traditional, cognitive measures. And, they already have a database history of results to gauge best practices. Include the traditional measures with the blink response measures. The comparison and contrast will lead to insights that you would not receive from use of the cognitive results alone.

  3. Follow some critical steps for change management. Most frequently, it is the person responsible for consumer insights that is most interested in adding blink response measures. Their bigger challenge is getting acceptance of these measures among their brand team. To make this process change happen:

  4. Break down the measures involved into simple metaphors (e.g. direction; acceleration; etc).

  5. Start with simple applications. The routine study step represents a low-risk trial approach.

  6. Communicate early, communicate often. Ensure that expectations are set and met with key decision-makers.

In the short time it took to write this blog, your market has blinked many times. Are you blinking with them?

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