As businesses navigate the complexities that the future throws at us, there’s an increased urgency to resonate beyond reason.
Channel switching, phygital technologies, the experience economy and sustainability: these are just a few of the ever-present drivers we’re seeing. And they tell us that relevance alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. The days of being in the right place at the right time, and that being enough, are fading fast.
Change is everywhere—and with it comes incredible opportunity and a good dose of responsibility. It’s what fuels the growth of our industry. But to participate with meaning and credibility in both the now and the next, brands can’t just ride on top of the wave. They must connect at a deep, primal level before layering everything else on.
We’re all comfortable—perhaps too comfortable—talking about the rational (the cost, efficiency, convenience) and even the emotional (the loyalty, heritage, fun), but what about the elements beyond the rational and the reasonable? With the constancy of change and risk, how can we compel people (stakeholders and customers alike) to make better, smarter decisions using their gut instincts rather than just their heads and their hearts? To drive growth in the short-term whilst balancing out the longer-term wins that the world actually needs?
“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient and then repent.”
Recently, LPK hosted a Supper Club on the topic of sustainability and the action gaps between ambition and reality. One of the key hurdles we explored was Talk vs. Walk: what people say they do versus actually do. Navigating our way through claimed behaviors, claimed passions and alleged unwavering allegiance vs. the real and raw can be tricky at the best of times. When it comes to sustainability, none of us want to be seen as going against the greater good, but it’s all too easy to sometimes opt for the path of least resistance. As Bob Dylan once said: “People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient and then repent.”
So how do we strip back the layers, go beyond the words and uncover what is deeply desirable?
Take a trip back to around 315,000 years ago. (Bear with me.) It’s safe to say none of us reading this know exactly what went on back then (I certainly won’t pretend to), but there are a few commonly accepted behaviors that early homo sapiens exhibited.
Pondering why they did what they did is interesting. The ability to make fire for instance—for warmth, yes, but also for a sense of belonging, perhaps even tranquility. Hunting to sustain themselves, but also to demonstrate their power, status, honor and vengeance within their own hierarchies and families. Maybe even as a way to show a little romance, and, more importantly, to pro-create. My point is: humans have changed unrecognizably but it is not too much of a stretch to say that our primal desires have not.
Sustainability is one of the most urgent, passion-fueled and slightly intimidating topics at the moment. Seemingly harder than most to get a grip on because of the responsibility that it demands. But obsessing about human behavior can help not only deliver the short-term clarity but also the longer-term goals.
People follow a pleasure path in nearly all areas of their lives. They use brands to meet their desires. We know, as brand owners and collaborators, that we have the chance to change people’s behavior, translating talk into walk. So, why not tackle sustainability, and many of the other interconnected challenges we face, by tapping into and delivering on the desires we all have?
Step back from the what, it’s a dangerously easy question to answer, and instead align your brand to a primal why: not what your brand should do, but why your brand has the right to do it beyond others? Why do people care about sustainability, at a visceral level? Why is your category well placed to credibly deliver against those desires? Why should people sit up and pay attention to you? Combine the whys, make them make sense right now, then stretch them into the emerging cultures. Compel people to make a decision in favor of your brand by tapping into their instincts and using your own.
At LPK, we use desires as a framework to make sense of the world and the collisions around us. It’s a refreshingly common-sensical tool, inspiring in its logic but also in the poignant places it can take you, quite quickly. Based on the Reiss Model of Human Motivation, it’s rooted in the psychological, but gives way to the very tangible—helping you to understand the hardwired human desires that drive your customers’ decision making; get more power from your brand’s strategy, offer and design; unify the efforts of the teams around you and amplify mundane insights.
“Find the right desire for your brand, orchestrate the relevant experiences around it & design the symbols that compel engagement.”
I’ve made choosing the right desire for your brand sound easy, intentionally so. It’s certainly not a finger-in-the-air process, but it is a satisfying combination of rigor and intuition based on some of our tech-driven research tools, the data we’re starting to run and all the knowledge we and you already have, as experienced marketers, but more importantly as humans.
That’s something that is all too easy to lose sight of in the demanding rush; the fact that we are all human, rational sometimes, emotional often. Regardless of job title, country, category, gender and a whole host of other things, people everywhere have the same fundamental desires. We have a considerably bigger chance of tackling these sticky challenges and opportunities together than alone. And if we can all bond over one thing, there’s probably nothing more immediate, nor soothing, than humanity.
Want to talk about using desires to write the future of your brand? Contact me at email@example.com.