We all know that advertising is all around us, and sometimes it seems inescapable. Although experts are unable to agree on an average number, it’s safe to say that, at the minimum, the average American sees hundreds of advertisements per day.
However, the thing that I find most interesting is that most people are probably only aware of a fraction of the advertising that they are exposed to. The majority of what we see and hear is absorbed subconsciously, and like ambient music playing in the background, we don’t notice it consciously without a specific trigger. However, a song heard playing in the background can stick in a person’s head all day, much like an ad can impact behaviors without the consumer realizing it. Through smart logo design as a method of nonverbal communication to the consumer, companies can increase their advertising in the marketplace beyond the overt.
Sometimes, in fact, advertising is so subtle that the consumer unknowingly pays a company to do their advertising for them. This strikes me every time I see these beverage coasters from, you guessed it, Target:
A manufacturer of a product is selling something that is literally doing their advertising for them, and consumers pay for the privilege of doing it on their behalf. It is brilliant advertising, and a wonderful way to get your branding in front of consumers without most people consciously realizing what’s happening.
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It’s no surprise that advertisers and marketers capitalize on consumers’ subconscious awareness just as much as the things that are marketed to you directly. Our Six Degrees team often helps clients uncover how much of their customers’ decision-making takes place in the preconscious or subconscious. More than 80 percent of human communication is based on nonverbal information. It is vital to understand this as we create and test marketing materials for our clients.
In the example of Target seen above, we can see how logo design can be incorporated into a product. The possibilities, however, go far beyond that. Product placement, or embedded advertising in movies, is being seen more and more as product manufacturers seek to get a leg up, and a lot of the products are things that you don’t even consciously notice.
I recently saw a TED Talk in which an illusionist predicted which color a woman from the audience would color certain animals when given a white sheet with animal outlines and a cup full of markers. He had given the audience subliminal triggers throughout the performance to be able to predict behavior, such as asking, “Who in the audience has read ‘Don Quixote’?” He asked this so many times that “red” and “donkey” were embedded in this woman’s mind, and without realizing it, she colored the donkey red. He did this for multiple colors and animals. This demonstrated how the power of suggestion unconsciously impacts decision-making.
So as a marketer, ad agency or researcher, remember that the opportunities for how to reach your consumer stretch far beyond traditional advertising – and as a consumer, keep your eyes open, because advertising is everywhere.