StopPress@SXSW 2015: Digital ‘doping’ presents challenges and opportunities for brands

  • Digital
  • March 23, 2015
  • Ian Hulme
StopPress@SXSW 2015: Digital ‘doping’ presents challenges and opportunities for brands

Saatchi & Saatchi senior digital strategist Ian Hulme headed along to a SXSW session run by Hey Human called 'Neuroplasticity and Tech - Why brands have to change'. Here are his thoughts. 

In its SXSW session this week, Hey Human set out to explore what looking at our inbox and phone hundreds of times a day is doing to our heads and, importantly, what this ‘hyperstimulation’ means for attention spans, cognition and brand recall?

Think you’re immune? Then ask yourself, would you rather Google search or use social bookmarking to recall something, rather than committing it to memory? Do you rely on Facebook to remind you whose birthday it is today? Can you recall your friends’ phone numbers without looking at your contacts?

We check our smartphones up to 220 times a day. The more frequently we perform a task, the more dominant the behaviour becomes. Hey Human suggests that every time we reach for our phones, we’re actually outsourcing a piece of our memory to the devices. We risk becoming part of a ‘devolution’ that discourages the retention of knowledge and sadly makes the brain less skilled at remembering things.

So while we all frantically search for memory training apps to download while we finish reading this, Hey Human recommends five ways for brands to make messaging in digital media easier for our brains to process.

  1. Surprise people with simplicity. Use simple, consistent messaging to create synchronised brand experiences. Don’t underestimate the power of classic mnemonics.
  2. Nudge the subconscious. There’s an opportunity to use familiar brand assets and icons in digital media to create mental shortcuts for consumers in new and interesting ways.
  3. Conquer context. Use the time of day, a moment of truth or platform nuances to drive cut-through and relevance.
  4. Maximise memory value. Brands can play a role by providing a ‘memory service’. For example, a florist who reminds you it’s your Mum’s birthday.
  5. Think in stereo. Use visual and audio queues together to encourage message retention. Don’t assume that digital media is a naturally high attention medium.

The research clearly shows we’re overloaded thanks to the digital deluge but there are simple, effective measures brands can take to help their consumers remember them.

  • Ian Hulme is a senior digital strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi. 

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