Most of us don’t have the condition called synesthesia, where numbers and letters and other building blocks of our language and knowledge have qualities associated with some of our senses. I only found out that my daughter has this condition when I read her college entrance exam and found out that indeed, 7 was a real real jerk. And by the way, 7 is also green. 5 is American flag blue, 6 is purple, 0 is transparent, and the letter ‘C’ is fuzzy, like a kitten’s fur. She has a visual, tactile, and even an emotional association with every letter and number. Meanwhile I can barely muster the intellectual horsepower to drool on my pillow.
She also enjoys extraordinary academic performance which in no small part is aided by the fact that she tends to remember … everything. Not exactly a ‘photographic’ memory, as it is more of a psychedelic memory. This readily explains her kinship for music from the Doors and the Grateful Dead. She is certain that the synesthesia aids her memory because rather than the number 7 being just 1 more than six, it is also a real pain in the ass, is green, and for all I know, could also be having an affair with 9, which, I’m told, is quite the hottie. My daughter admitted that she elected to not go into great detail about how she perceives reality for fear of people thinking she is crazy. A belief her little sister is quick to validate.
Make your marketing sticky
The enhancement of our ability to remember something by adding components to the memory is called making it ‘sticky’. That’s what I call it anyway… Have trouble remembering names? Add a descriptive alliteration and you will be twice as likely to remember a name: Bald Bill, brainy Bob, beautiful Bella, etc. It ends up the more qualities you attach to a memory, the more sticky it becomes and the more likely it will be remembered.
What does this teach us about marketing? Well, think about the truism that ads with bright colors, gorgeous people, and/or babies tends to grab the eye for longer periods of time and stick in our minds longer than ads that don’t have these qualities. So when you are designing something to be viewed, try to have it appeal to as many senses and emotions as possible for maximum efficacy. The more of an ‘experience’ that is created by an image, the more effective it will be.
This is another reason to utilize videos and multi-media as a whole. They can imbed sight, sound and emotion to give an indelible quality to any message that is to be delivered. The SEO benefits of using video, YouTube in particular are profound by the way, and for another post.
More about stickiness. At risk of being a 7, the core of our brains are almost identical to the brains of lizards. Our brains have evolved from the brain-stem outward. The lizard part of your brain is the part that gives you the heads up when you are hungry, scared, or wanting to, say, propagate the gene-pool; think all things primitive.
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The outer layers of the brain serve your abstract reasoning, critical thinking and math; think civilized. While these attributes have helped us outpace our fellow mammals in terms of the ratio of head weight compared to the rest of the body, (Note all this math talk is not as compelling as that ice cream up there…) they don’t exactly make for good marketing content.
See? I had to wake up just to finish this sentence…
The moral of this story is that the deeper that your marketing touch penetrates the brain, quite literally in the physical sense, the bigger an impression it will make, ergo the more likely it will be remembered. Hence images that evoke our primal nature are more effective than say, a depiction of the Pythagorean theorem. This is why sex, food and fear sell.
But avoid using fear to sell, it is unethical and kind of mean. And try to avoid using 7 of anything. On top of the fact that it is such a jerk, it ends up that many other synesthesiasts have a similar distaste if not complete contempt for the number 7, and they make up about 4% of the general population. Best to not alienate any segments of your audience when possible… unless of course deep down you can’t help being a 7.