Long Live The King

If you’ve listened to our recent webinar, or seen us present lately, you’ll have heard us talk a lot about branding. Specifically, about distinctive assets – a term coined by marketing science guru Byron Sharp to describe the little, sometimes even meaningless details that let a brand stand out and live in the memory. A colour, a sound, a logo, a particular brand character or instant association – these things give a brand fluency, making it rapidly recognisable. Marketing science shows that it’s distinction, not differentiation, that really helps a brand grow.

That can feel a bit abstract, though. It doesn’t necessarily help with knotty questions like – how, and when, do you change a brand’s assets? How does refreshing a brand fit in? Continue reading

Breakfast By Tiffany’s


This rather elegant yoghurt is part of a lovely exhibition by the artist and designer Peddy Mergui, Wheat Is Wheat Is Wheat. Mergui has taken commodity grocery items – yoghurt, baby food, canned goods – and rebranded them as luxury brands: Chanel, Apple, and, as here, Tiffany’s. What would a Tiffany’s Yoghurt look like? Now you know.

But this yoghurt also shows us something interesting about how our minds perceive packaging and brands. Continue reading

Packaging: The Plain Truth?

Last year the Australian government became the first in the world to legislate for mandatory “plain packaging” on cigarette boxes – no branding (beside the name of the brand in a neutral font) and only health warnings and graphic images to be shown on the packs.

Tobacco firms strongly resisted this law, as you might expect. But as a marketer I was excited. The results of this initiative would be vital evidence one way or another in debates about the role of brand and packaging in consumer choice – as well as on the role of marketing in public health.


Well, the first results are starting to come in. Continue reading

Door No.11: The System 1 Pack Test

Today’s experiment in our BrainJuicer Advent Calendar!

The Experiment: “System 1” – the fast, instinctive, often unconscious mode of decision making identified by Daniel Kahneman – is the concept that underpins almost all our work at BrainJuicer these days. If we can use research to understand people’s System 1 thinking, we can get at the real drivers for most of their decisions. Older research methods create an environment in which the more deliberative “System 2” is encouraged – they risk missing crucial factors in decision making.

Of all the experiments we’ve done this year, nothing illustrates this better than the “System 1 Pack Test”. A client came to us with a problem: their brand was consistently outperforming its competitors in packaging research, but was getting beaten at shelf. What was the research missing? The client felt that emotion was the key.

The hypothesis was simple: the competitor’s pack made people feel better.

The competitor was using information-light packaging with appealing visuals which made people’s decision making at shelf simpler than the client’s information-rich packs. System 1 decisions ought to be fun, fast, and easy to make, and the competitor fit this brief better.

But during research, system 2 took over, and the information and rational benefits listed on the client’s pack gave it the edge.

So how to get around this? We decided distraction and time pressure were key. Under pressure, people usually default to an option that comes easily to mind – in this case, the competitor pack, with its simpler, more emotionally appealing packaging.

So we built an online module which gave participants a simulated shelf and then introduced distractions – in the form of tannoy announcements – and time pressure to stop them resorting to considered system 2 assessments.

What happened? Continue reading