The continued rise of technology in our everyday lives shows no sign of slowing down. We are constantly connected. Connected to each other, to the latest news, to our snaps, timelines and heart rates. We are rarely detached from our devices, and we're constantly bombarded with marketing messages.
We're now exposed to so much information that it can overwhelm our brains, causing us to fail to notice what we see. Overloaded on data, we find ourselves clicking, tapping, scrolling and swiping through digital platforms, in hope of finding something stimulating and exciting.
So, in an era of instant communication and perpetual connectivity, how can companies of all sizes and budgets get their brand's latest marketing campaigns noticed--not just seen?
Beware of habituation.
One of the reasons marketers have such a hard job is because humans are programed to gradually stop responding to stimuli after repeat exposure. The conscious part of our brain hands the stimuli over to our sub-conscious, where behaviors become a habit--but where the chance of future response or action decreases.
The technical term for this phenomenon is habituation. Habituation causes us to see without noticing, and to acknowledge things superficially.
Ultimately, when we don't take real notice and see what lies underneath the surface, the stimuli miss their mark. More often than not, the habituated person will forget what they've seen and never take the action that marketers are pouring time, creativity and imagination into trying to make happen.
Drew Grant, the senior designer at my brand agency, gave me a great analogy to illustrate habituation: "I walk through a forest and I see trees all around me. Or, I walk through a forest and I notice a large blossom tree, full of small birds happily singing. I stop to listen and notice the tree is bearing fruit. I pick a fruit and take a bite."
This simple story illustrates the difference between how our brains see things subconsciously, and how we can notice these same things on a more conscious level. Taking notice means we are much more likely to remember, to investigate, and to take action.
With this in mind, how should brands begin to approach their next campaign if their goal is to get noticed?
Focus on the trees, not the forest.
An increasing number of brands base their latest campaign strategies on statistical insights and metrics. This can be viewed as a safe option because hard data produces hard facts, and no one wants to risk investing in a campaign with a potentially bad ROI.
In a forest that's already too dense for the sun to shine through the trees, playing it safe has a tendency to produce yet more unremarkable trees. In other words, failing to get noticed leads to visible but ordinary and forgettable campaigns. It's just more data for the subconscious to gloss over.
You must get to know your target audiences and figure out what drives them. You need to create content that resonates on a fundamental level.
Shoot for selective attention.
Ever thought of buying a new car and suddenly you're seeing that particular brand everywhere? That's selective attention. A thought sneaks into your subconscious, where it primes you for noticing it all around you.
An outstanding marketing campaign can apply this concept to great effect. Well designed and well targeted, such a campaign burrows into an audience's subconscious mind, resulting in an increased likelihood of the viewer to spring into action, seemingly spontaneously.
Noticeable brands evoke undeniable emotions and generate attention. I bet you can name two or three great marketing campaigns that have resonated with you and stayed with you even if they are from many years ago.
The more attention we give them, the better we integrate their information, the longer we retain it and the more likely it becomes that we'll recall it later and take action. If the goal is to be truly noticed, it's less important whether your campaign is visual, interactive, or tactile. Much more importantly, it should be memorable.
As Grant says, "In a forest full of trees, make sure your latest campaign blossoms."