The Dress That Changed The World

Dress Color?

What That Crazy Viral Dress Can Teach Us About Messaging

If you had internet access last Thursday and Friday, chances are you were subjected to what I’m now referring to as Dressgate 2015. What a weird, confusing few hours, right?

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The bodycon dress pictured above became a viral sensation as people debated whether the colors were black and blue or white and gold. Houses divided as brother turned against brother, each claiming the other had to get his eyes checked. Seriously, was nothing else going on in the world? Anyway, this viral visual exercise taught us a few things:

  1. The dress is blue.
  2. We interpret colors differently.

Different people pick up on different visual cues in the photograph, which can change how they interpret and name the colors of the dress. That’s science, but it’s proven difficult for a lot of people to accept. Because how on earth could one piece of information be perceived so differently from one person to another?! It was easier for me to accept because I work in branding which has a lot to do with understanding perception — especially when it comes to messaging. So what can we learn from Dressgate 2015 about messaging?

When crafting a message, you have to assume that everyone is going to take something different away from it. Some people are only going to hear the price. Some just want your website so they can learn more about you later. And some only notice the production values of the commercial and don’t hear a single thing you’re saying. So part of your job as a savvy business-owner is to be thoughtful in how you manage your messaging. Try this: If you’re creating a marketing campaign with a heavy focus on the awards you’ve won, ask yourself if the average consumer is going to equate that something that is going to make their life better. Are they even going to care? Will they even hear it?

Advertising hinges on perception. It’s based on how a consumer’s brain processes information and filters out the noise. So in order to actually reach someone, you can’t sound like noise. If you’ve done your homework, you’ve already identified your audience and profiled their demographics and psychographics. Break these people into segments and create a Messaging Matrix. This is a grid of your audience segments, what they think, what you want them to think, and how you’re going to change the conversation. It’s a simple chart that breaks everything down into simple, easy-to-understand verbiage with action items.

The point is to cover your bases in reaching the right people with information they won’t gloss over. You want people to see and perceive the best of you.

Brand Buzz: The Best Picture Nominees & Branding

Oscan Nominees

Believe it or not, we can learn a lot about branding from this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees. It’s true. Some lessons come from the narratives themselves and some lessons come from the style of filmmaking. The nominees are:

Boyhood
Director Richard Linklater’s family drama saga was filmed over 12 years. Is an unparalleled feat of filmmaking and a true testament to craft dedication.
Branding Lesson: Any serious branding undertaking should be handled like a long-term venture with milestones, goals, and adjustments as-needed.

The Theory of Everything
It’s a sparkly little biopic about the marriage of Steven and Jane Hawking.
Branding Lesson: Use your expertise to change the world. And if you can’t change the world, use it to establish credibility and build a following. That’s what Thought Leadership is, and not many people have mastered Thought Leadership quite like Steven Hawking.

Whiplash
“There are no two words more harmful than good job.” —J.K. Simmons as Terrence Fletcher
Branding Lesson: Push yourselves beyond what is expected of you.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
It’s a Wes Anderson-y Wes Anderson movie. And just being able to say that is a tribute to the director’s aesthetic and sensibility. You know it’s his movie just by looking at a single frame.
Branding Lesson: Maintain a consistent style and voice. It’s how everyone will recognize you. That’s how advocacy and loyal starts.

Selma
Martin Luther King Jr. leads marches on Selma, Alabama. Ava DuVernay’s direction is intimate when it needs to be and sweeping for sheer impact. It’s all about adapting to fit the mood and the characters scene-by-scene.
Branding Lesson: Tell your story in different ways that will reach diverse audiences. You can get more milage out of a single post if you repurpose into Facebook posts and eBooks. So make your content versatile.

American Sniper
Clint Eastwood’s film about Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. history.
Branding Lesson: Target the right people. Whether you’re using Facebook ads or buying media in a big market, you need to profile the demographics and psychographics of the people you’re trying to reach.

The Imitation Game
The story of Alan Turing working to crack the Nazi code.
Branding Lesson: Look for patterns and apply them to your strategy. What’s working with your current social media efforts? Who is responding to your media? Regulatory reassess your plan and try new things based on the your findings.

Birdman
The film is an actor send-up about defending art. The directing style is one man swinging for the fences.
Branding Lesson: Take risks in your creative and be willing to defend it once it’s out there. And if Michael Keaton is available for your next commercial, hire him. He’s a treasure and he was robbed of that Oscar.