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Friday, October 13

We don't forget, we just don't remember

As the newspaper fattens, the TV channels multiply, the favourite web-sites, blog list balloons, a look at how we remember stuff/ brands becomes essential survival knowledge...

There is this Estonian-born psychologist by the name of Endel Tulving( check out wiki for more on Endel if you are interested), whose episodic memory theory can help brands improve their awareness and recall!

Endel's memory theory is actually quite simple. Memory has two components he says- (1) Memory trace - the actual information about an event, experience that stays in the mind. But that which gets weakened over time. (2) Retrieval Cue - something in the immediate/ current situation that reminds us of the event.

The theory can be used to study brand memories very well. And measures can be taken to strengthen both the memory trace and retrieval cues...

Common sense would tell that better brand engagement, better customer experience, more personalised service, a refreshing piece of relevant communication would leave a stronger 'brand memory trace'.

And brand symbols - say the McDonald golden arch, Ronald McDonald, the colour schema of the interiors, the combo boards and posters, the unique smell of the burgers and other fast-food all go in building strong retrieval cues for the brand.

Similarly, my oft-repeated( I promise not to repeat it within the next month) example of the iPod has a large number of retrieval cues in the environment.

In future, with media and brands mutating and morphing, there will be a greater need to systemmatically build an eco-system of retrival cues. Maybe the post on 'Nu Lngvg of Brndg' was a retrieval cue for this post:-)


pooR_Planner said...

Gerald Zaltman, the HBS professor, invented an interview method called ZMET (Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique)...www.olsonzaltman.com, which is basically an interactive method of surveying by using metaphors,expressions to find the deeper meanings and hidden thoughts about a particular topic. For we human beings to remember a particular brand, it is important to understand what other things we associate with. Mind mapping is one way. With advancement in technology, fMRI is increasing being used to understand "Memory Trace"

iPod .. with its "i-words" (to the extent of self promoting i-slangs) could create an interesting breed of individualistic loyal consumer, an eco- system which made them iconic.

Nice post.

Shantanu said...

if i am not mistaken, even brand colors form a part of the retrieval mechanism. the only problem, which is probably to do with deep and deeper pockets of many marketers, is that it could probably end up being very confusing in a test. e.g. what would red stand for? marlboro, ferrari, or coke? what would blue stand for? pepsi or IBM. which is where i think symbols play an important role...and taking off from the examples that you mentioned, the best e.g that comes to mind is that of mcdonalds. they have not one but two symbols - the arch & ronald. i can never forget a real life incidence that happened a decade ago. my then 2 year old niece who had just come back from a trip to europe saw the golden arch on linking road (mcd had opened when she was abroad) from a distance of more than 200 feet and promptly rattled off everything to do with mcdonalds - that ronald sits outside, that there is a play area inside and that there are yummy long fries to eat. and guess what happened next? she started salivating and we had to change our schedule to make that stop at McD.
ipod, your favorite, has not just invested in creating the eco-system for the personal music players, they have also summarily hijacked the color white with the white wires of the earphones. and over the last 15 odd years, they have also heavily invested in design as a retrieval mechanism. imagine xbox 360's plight when time reviewed it last year and mentioned that the design is very apple-esque.

on another note...buddy your site rocks. truly. for someone who would sometimes taunt me on the length of my mails, you have for good, beat me to it and keep beating me on a daily basis. and that is precisely why i still dont have my own blog. i dont have so much to write. your blog makes me feel that i live in a vacuum with nothing on my mind. keep going dude...i'll post my comments once ini a while.

Manish said...

shantanu, on the contrary you make me feel that I have nothing better than just blogging on my mind..LOL
your niece's example is good one. i guess one guy with an open and simple mind just studied the traffic in and around McDonalds without the help of an ad agency and invented all the simple retrieval mechanism. what about that beer that we have been wanting to have for the past 2 months?

Divya Pratap said...

Hey Bro, Once again a refreshing perspective. The problem is it all seems so simple yet none of us do much to create high points for memory attention and engagements that constantly remind us of that world. But none the less a definite formula to build succesful impressions. Am back after a long while. Keep writing.

Manish said...

bro... welcome to the blog world once again...planners beyond a point can't effect much change. The best combo wud be a client with a planner mind-set. that's a faster way to action the noble thots that we carry in our heads...but then being a client has its attendant problems( at least I won't be very comfortable with the idea...)anyone, especially meraj suggest a movie for the week-end!!

pooR_Planner said...

Is this offline program meant only for Mumbai Planners ???