Resolutions to Look out 2022: Resolution 1

Be unique, think like an animator, and create human betweenness

Two weeks into 2022, and that new year goodwill might be wearing thin. In fact, if you believe some people, it’s the gloomiest time of the year.

Fortunately, there’s no scientific basis for “Blue Monday”, and there’s every reason to feel positive about 2022. All being well, it’ll be the year we start to emerge from the struggles of the pandemic and look outwards and forwards again. Brands have a role to play in setting the tone, and here are three 2022 resolutions for marketers who want to take that opportunity for effectiveness and growth.

A shift in perspective can beat the marketing blues. Here’s why…

Don’t believe what you read – this isn’t the saddest day of the year. But in the long term, there really is a depressing trend taking hold in society – particularly if you care about effective advertising and brand marketing.

While technological advances have brought many benefits – enabling businesses to do things more quickly and cheaply, and making communication easier – they have also altered how we connect with each other and made business more transactional. This digital revolution has narrowed our attention, causing us to look downwards – to our digital devices, to 24 hour rolling news and to social media – and to turn inwards. The loss of broad-beam attention, which grounds us in the world and the people around us, is not good for our mental health, something that our isolation in the pandemic has further exacerbated.

As Orlando shows in Look out, this narrowing of attention is behind a cultural shift that has also seen changes in advertising style. Advertising has also become transactional, literal, close-up to the product, undermining its ability to capture the broad-beam attention and interest of audiences.

Yet, in this digital world, where companies are losing their physical availability, the task of brand building advertising becomes more important – because it raises and maintains mental availability. Brand building advertising requires us to capture the broad-beam attention of audiences through emotional work with an appreciation of human uniqueness, connection, movement, humour, music and colour.

Your brand building advertising must capture broad-beam attention.

The human brain brings a broad-beam global attention to bear on the world first, before it narrows in on the detail. We see the wood before we see the trees. It’s imperative that advertisers capture broad-beam attention, which alerts us to what’s out there, at the edge of our awareness – to what is new and interesting.

How?

By ‘putting on a show,’ as the advertising commentator Paul Feldwick puts it, and by creating an emotional response, which points to advertising that features the living.

Why?

Because capturing broad-beam attention and eliciting a (broadly positive) emotional response is what will establish your brand in long-term memory. Positive memory guides future decisions, so when it’s time to make a choice next, good brand-building advertising helps to ensure it’s your brand that leaps to mind before any other – that your brand becomes the automatic choice.

The result?

As Look out shows, it is advertising with features that capture broad-beam attention and elicit an emotional response that establishes lasting business effects: sales gain, profit gain and market share growth. It does this by establishing mental availability, and it also establishes brand trust and esteem.

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Resolution 1: Think like an animator

Look out shows how advertising is losing its vitality. The stare that coerces is replacing the look that caresses. Stasis (freeze-frame and stop-motion effects) is replacing flow (a scene unfolding in lived time). Directness (on-screen words) triumphs over betweenness (dialogue and knowing glances). Rhythm wins out over music. This means advertising is losing its ability to capture attention and elicit an emotional response.

In brand-building advertising, human vitality attracts and rewards attention. The trails of clues left by characters’ knowing glances, their gestures and facial expressions help you to convey something memorable and of lasting significance in a short amount of time. And when two people are seen to connect in an ad, something else very fundamental is established – a sense of ‘betweenness’ that helps to connect with your audience.

So in 2022, it might pay to think more like an animator, because human uniqueness, movement, and betweenness (connection) are the building blocks for great communication – and central to this human vitality and the relationships between characters are the eyes, mouth and hands.

Animators don’t just think about how a character looks – they think about how that character moves and reacts, with big distinctive gestures and unusual voices and sayings that capture their essence. The creators of great cartoons would start by drawing the moments of maximum emotional connection in the story before filling in the other scenes. Movement and connection dramatize the significance of a moment and hold the viewer’s attention.

Tune in next week for Resolution 2

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