When considering what to say or how to communicate, brands often fall into the trap of trying to say everything that’s good about themselves and in turn, disengaging and confusing their audience. In a generation where media is becoming more crowded, the power of simplicity is something that should not be overlooked.
There are few examples more poignant than The Donald Trump election campaign that demonstrates the power of simplicity. It is arguably one of the most successful campaigns of the century. But why did people relate to him? How did he end up swaying the balance of votes? What was he saying that got so much support?
After close assessment of his campaign by a series of neuroscientists, the same themes continue to rise as to how Trumps campaign strategy cut through. Below are the key points that could be described as the lynch pins of the campaigns success. These techniques are not only successful in a political context, but something that all brands can, and should take learnings from…
- Exploit Simplicity – By using concepts that are incredibly simple and almost childlike in execution, we become more receptive because the brain has to work less hard to decode the message and make it relevant to us. Brands tend to forget that people’s appetite for information is decreasing all the time. Messages that are simple, clear and memorable are likely to be ‘stickier’ than those rammed with information.
- Plant negativity where it’s needed – In many of Trumps key messages, there were very simple words used with negative connotations. ‘Crooked’, ‘Swamp’, ‘Lying’ all coupled with nouns or people. This was intentional and very powerful. There are parts of our brain that are hardwired to respond selectively to things that are scary (to protect us). A barrage of negativity repeatedly presented in an easy to understand format is likely to trigger these parts of the brain, making us feel we need to take action.
- Frequency – Our brains organise information based on frequency. Repetition of the same message is likely to be perceived as more important, regardless of what the message is. Trumps strategy was hinged on repetition of a series of phrases that gained relevance and importance in the minds of the public. Whilst repetition can feel uncomfortable for brands that feel they have a lot to say, it can be used as a way to make what we are saying become perceived as more important.
- Priming – Bringing together simple, negatively charged couplings (such as ‘Crooked Hillary’) and repeating them over and over again, fixes them in peoples minds to the extent that when we say one, we hear the other. It becomes part of the brains fixed belief system, where we look for evidence of support. To create a fixed belief, we must associate and affirm our brands repeatedly with the sentiment we want our audience to feel about us.
Play. Prime. Repeat.
Lets make branding great again.