I love the concept of patterns in branding, discussed at length in Marc Shillum’s latest contribution to Fast Company’s 10×10 (link below).
Growing up as a kid I hated most ads (this continues today), but I loved many of the cleverer, more dynamic ones, such as Energizer’s “Keeps Going”, Tootsie Pops and Kool Aid ads, and ‘Milk Does a Body Good’ (Even though I’ve always been lactose-intolerant). It’s telling that many of us immediately picture the bunny with the drum, the lollipop-wielding owl and the morbidly obese red man running into the room shouting “Ohhh yeahhhh”. These images are ingrained in our heads not because we saw the same ad over and over again, but because we heard the same message presented in different ways hundreds of times.
Had the creative teams behind these ads not thought to structure them in ways that involved patterns more than repetition, I doubt they would be as memorable. Our young minds would have tuned the messages out far more quickly than they did. Why? Because patterns create meaning out of noise and chaos. And our minds are drawn to meaningful experiences. We experience emotions when we have meaningful experiences and emotions are the driving force behind memories. In fact the deeper the emotional experience, particularly with trauma, the deeper the memory that is formed. (Some folks block memories that are too traumatic, but when those memories are finally recalled, they are so powerful it’s scary).
Today, I still hate most ads, but I love the few that display true creativity. Some of my favorite work of course includes the recent campaigns by Old Spice and Dos Equis. They build a story around their message, and change the details of that story in order to vary the pattern in which we see and hear their messages. By altering the medium in which the message is delivered, but maintaining the core ‘pattern’ (message or position), companies like Old Spice and Dos Equis win us over with creativity.
They evoke emotions when we watch their ads (“I wish MY pillow was cool on both sides!”), thereby engaging us in their brand motif and hopefully influencing our future behavior.