Archive for Brant Emery

Remember AOL! The Four Rules of Web Success

Posted by Brant Emery on January 2nd, 2013 at 11:03 am

Things go in cycles. We all know that – from the dredging up of retro fashions, the inheritance of music, to the rapid cyclical nature of business; in particular online business. Everything seems to follow the same path.
As all tech believers know, when man invented the web: Saviour of the Geeks, Creator of Unnecessary Job Titles and Deliverer of LOLCats, like the Garden of Eden, at first things went jolly well – we all lived in peace, harmony and believed in universal access, freedom of information, net neutrality, and that when given the choice of publicising the bare truth on Wikipedia, we (from celebrities and companies to politicians and lobbying groups) of course would not seek to alter that... oh yes. Of course, our lovely new Netopia began to change to reflect the true realities of our world – i.e. capitalism.
Yet, even so – the level of change from open platforms, open source, open access mentality of the early days to the competitive, closed, fixed business model trend we now see, surprises me. When AOL (or America Online as it was then) first presented the world with the idea of a digital gated community – it was a unique step.... Read more

Is great storytelling losing out in the move to digital?

Posted by Brant Emery on August 31st, 2012 at 7:28 am

It has long been accepted that we create stories to cognitively process and order our experiences, gain perspective and to structure the world. People use stories to understand who they are as individuals and as members of society. The importance of narrative as a communication tool is undisputed.
Consumers also interpret their exposure and experience with brands via narrative thought processes. For example, if you ask someone ‘why did you buy a Volkswagon?’ you might get a personal story of how the purchase fits with their needs or prior experiences “I had a Civic before, but with two kids now, I did some research and feel a VW is the safest car in its class; it’s the smart choice.”
Advertising has long been (implicitly) aware of the power of storytelling. Some adverts tell complete stories, some continuing stories, like the famous 1980’s Nescafe Gold Blend couple (voted most romantic advert of all time in the UK), while others encourage self-generated narratives by evoking simulations of product use. Consumers then overlay these stories onto existing narrative structures and connections are made.
But as we shift to the new model of digital media, are we losing the opportunity to tell stories?
In Matt Spangler’s series ‘The... Read more

The Power of Curiosity for Brand Engagement

Posted by Brant Emery on August 14th, 2012 at 6:32 am

Why do we get hooked so easily by questions?
Ever been chatting to a colleague when a “oh, what’s his name, you know, that actor, you know, that TV series, big in Germany…” moment arises? Days later, ‘Eureka – David Hasselhoff!’ you’ll shout, and feel gratified, even relieved? Then you realise your brain had been quietly beavering away at that question? Curiosity. Once piqued it becomes an implacable force that must be sated. A natural instinct that both  stimulates and drives behavior.
Leo Burnett believed curiosity was the secret of great creative people. Stimulating curiosity is a known educational approach. Comedy works by tantalizing us with questions before side-swiping our expectations with off-kilter answers. In film and literature, curiosity is used as ‘cliff-hanger’ moments or attention grabbing headlines like “5 Things You Did Wrong Today.”
My belief is that curiosity is an evolutionary formed predatory instinct – quite simply, food comes to those who seek it out. Then, as evolved hominids, this cognitive process morphed into an innate desire to explore the mysteries of our world.
So why does curiosity have this hold on us?
Let’s begin with the neuroscience of curiosity. As Jonah Lehrer from Wired wrote, results from an fMRI experiment at Caltech... Read more

Is the big spend in social media a big mistake?

Posted by Brant Emery on August 3rd, 2012 at 8:47 am

Why is it, that for a highly statistical and scientific driven discipline, many marketers still make broad and misinformed conclusions? In relation to this, is the massive investment in social media solutions an industry wide confirmation bias in action?
Especially irksome is how many in marketing and branding have a tendency to confuse correlation with causality, to make big assumptions from little data, to infer behavioral trends from few factors.
Geneticists share a common metaphor for this, they call it chopstick gene thinking. The idea is that if you look at a random sample of people, you’ll find that people with the gene for blue eyes are disproportionately bad with chopsticks. Now, this isn’t causal, it’s a logical fallacy. People with blue eyes tend to correlate to non-oriental origins, thus the cause is non-genetic, it’s cultural.
Marketers do unfortunately have a bit of a reputation for confusing causality and making relationships where there are none. Disraeli’s famous quote could easily have been ‘there are lies, damn lies, and statistics marketing.’ I’m not saying it is consciously intentional, it's just that many an eager agency, marketing team or brand owner have taken what they want to see from data. In fact, it’s a... Read more