Liberate your inner Pavlov

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When speaking with business owners about their marketing efforts, I often hear them say, “Nothing came of that particular advertisement, but that’s ok because we are Branding”. They are saying that even though their ad didn't accomplish what they hoped it would, they accept the outcome because at least they “got some branding out of it”.

This proves to me that branding is frequently misunderstood. Branding is not something that happens because a handful of people see your logo or read your tagline. Branding is not your logo design or style of writing.

Branding is something very scientific. It happens when consistency, repetition and anchoring come together. We learn this from the brilliant Nobel Prize winner Ivan Pavlov. He did an experiment in 1904, where, day after day, he consistently rang a bell as he fed meat to a dog. He never offered the meat without ringing the bell. As time went on, the dog began to associate the taste of the meat with the sound of the bell. Each time the bell rang, the dog would salivate. Pavlov had conditioned the dog to respond in this way through consistency, repetition and the implantation of associative memory. He branded the sound of the bell through the dog’s love for meat.

Consistency and Frequency create “branding” only when your message is tied to an established emotional anchor.  Your advertising should influence the mind of its readers in such a way that they automatically respond to the sound of your “bell”.

Coca-Cola's emotional anchor is tradition. Coca-Cola has always been calling itself the "real thing." Pepsi, on the other hand, communicates change to a "new generation." In 1985 when Coca-Cola embarked on selling New Coke, they abandoned their values. Coca-Cola’s studies proved that New Coke out-performed Coke in taste tests. New Coke even beat Pepsi in taste tests (usually Pepsi outperforms Coke in taste tests).

New Coke bombed.

If New Coke tastes better, why was it such a failure? Coca-Cola made the mistake of forgetting its emotional anchor (newness does not fit with tradition.) Coke doesn't outsell Pepsi because it tastes better. It sells because Coke drinkers identify with Coke's anchor: tradition.

So, you must ask yourself: Is your message tied to some associative memory that is anchored in your customer’s heart? Or are you just ringing a bell?


Morty Silber, CEO

Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner


P.S. This is a very informative video explaining Facebook fraud. Well worth the nine minutes.

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