Plenty of companies have built their brands on promises based on addressing fears – the needs for protection, for reassurance, for status, for achievement, recognition and so on – in a world where so many of those things are portrayed as being at risk. But how successful is fear as an emotive driver today and should we still be using it as a motivation to get people to buy more stuff?
Once, it was easy to build brand trust. You used mass media to establish profile and credibility, you became a “household name” and that was pretty much it. No longer of course. The splintering of channels, new levels of transparency and increasing expectations from customers have made just ‘being’ a trusted brand almost impossible. Trust is now far from a given.
Nir Eyal, author of Hooked, recently suggested that products are becoming increasingly addictive. Three macro-trends are driving that, he told me, and together they are lifting the addictive potential of all sorts of products and services: Companies are now able to collect more data about user behaviours; Interactive technology is more accessible; and The transfer of data is happening faster than ever before.
John B. Watson, a key figure in the development of behaviourism, famously said that effective advertising revolved around three basic emotions: love, fear and rage. (Get the backstory on this here). It’s a nice meme. But is it still accurate?