Failure is the new flawless – drop the mask and cash in

Bad experiences stick in our memories for longer, according to behavioural experts. Sérgio Brodsky wants to know why more brands aren’t leveraging vulnerability to connect with audiences.

Authenticity has been one of the most over-utilised terms in marketing these days. Both brand managers and their agencies alike have emphatically shared different research pieces about how much customers value authentic brands. Yet, few have actually dropped their happy-go-lucky veneers of positive communications for more vulnerable, self-deprecating and, at times, negative communications.

In a commoditising and incredibly predictable landscape, it is increasingly hard to define and defend a brand’s unique selling proposition when there’s nothing truly distinctive about it. This struggle to communicate brand value in a compelling way, especially for those in the FMCG and retail categories, can certainly be addressed with brands communicating more than forceful smiles.

Those who watched Pixar’s animation Inside Out will remember that four out of the five main characters represent negative emotions. Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness and Joy were not only fictitious characters but the actual makeup of the most basic emotions hardwired in our brains.

According to Julia Haber, Clinical Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Fordham University, “[The] human tendency for negative bias evolved over time to help our ancestors survive by being responsive to potential threats. As such, negative stimuli in our brain are processed almost instantly, ensuring it’s stored in our long-term memory.” On the other hand, positive experiences have to be held in the brain for at least 12 seconds before they are stored as long-term memory.

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