Why Brands Should Be Mysterious


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Some thoughts on using mystery as a marketing tool to draw the interest and fascination of people.

It's the second installment of something I've been interested in for a while.

Published in: Business

Why Brands Should Be Mysterious

  1. 1. why brands should be mysterious
  2. 2. we are in the business of being interesting
  3. 3. awareness, purchase intent, etc.here’s why:in general, our job is to solve business problems byconvincing people of an idea which should create a solution perception, sales, etc.
  4. 4. here’s why:to convince people of an idea,we need to be interesting enough to draw them into it
  5. 5. there are a lot of ways to be interesting
  6. 6. one of the most successful ways to draw people into an ideacan be borrowed from the storytelling world
  7. 7. mystery
  8. 8. mystery is a proven technique that we rarely seein advertising
  9. 9. let me be clear what I mean by mystery
  10. 10. “come in lateand leave early”
  11. 11. John Hegarty said that’s what you should do in storytellingyou shouldn’t tell the whole storybecause gaps in a story create intrigueintrigue is good
  12. 12. Don Draper is the epitome of mystery (especially in the first couple seasons)early in Mad Men, we were withheld information about Draperand slowly received the answers over timewe even discovered Don Draper wasn’t his real name
  13. 13. because he was mysterious, we found him interesting
  14. 14. I have a theory why we’re interested in mystery
  15. 15. when presented withincomplete images,our brains will try to that means: complete them on their own we naturally want psychologists to finish the story call this the Law of Closure
  16. 16. but why do we want to finish the story?
  17. 17. when we’re interrupted from doing a task and aren’t able to that means:complete it, we feel frustrated and are motivated to go unfinished things back and finish it cause us to feel tension psychologists call this the Zeigarnik Effect
  18. 18. in summary:we want to finish the storybecause unfinished things cause us to feel tension
  19. 19. the stories our culture obsesses about mostare often the ones that are incomplete
  20. 20. conspiracy unsolvedscandals crimes theories
  21. 21. the media knows we like a good mysterybut advertising doesn’t
  22. 22. there are three elements of mystery that work hardestto make it compelling
  23. 23. secrecy
  24. 24. you can’t have a mystery without secretsthe best secrets are bits of info needed to solve the mysterysecrets are what people obsess about
  25. 25. theater production company Punchdrunk is all about secrecythey create plays with a purposefully incomplete storylinethe audience is encouraged to interact with the setin order to fill in the gaps
  26. 26. the play “Sleep No More” and other Punchdrunk productionsare shrouded in secrecythey know the audience is compelled to work for the full story
  27. 27. remember this?
  28. 28. after Phoenix was all weird on Letterman in 2009,we were enthralled with the mystery of whetherhe had really gone crazy or it was just a stunt
  29. 29. once the secret was the alleged leaked that it was a documentary hoax, people tracking the star’s abandoned the fall from grace mystery and thefueled the fire and it movie didn’t reach was on a road to box office high demand expectations
  30. 30. the mystery failed because the secret it relied on was exposedsecrets are the fundamental need for mystery to exist
  31. 31. secrecy suspense
  32. 32. a mystery needs to suspend people between conflictand resolutionit’s a tricky balancing act of withholding info and revealing itone way to keep people engaged is to misdirect theirattention toward plausible clues or a new mystery entirely
  33. 33. you knew this was cominglove it or hate it, this show was 100% mystery
  34. 34. Lost misdirected people for years and did it perfectlynew episodes created new questions to muddle overon fan and social sites
  35. 35. misdirection kept people in suspense week to week
  36. 36. of course, suspense can be pretty exhilarating“the suspense is killing me!” is just a way of saying that
  37. 37. this companyknows you love experiencing suspense
  38. 38. Something Store has hinged their business on the belief thatpeople enjoy the positive effect of suspense - a buildingexcitement for the inevitable conclusionif you give them $10, they’ll send you somethingwhat that something is, you’ll just have to wait and see
  39. 39. this uncertainty and anticipationis enough to get some peoplepretty jacked
  40. 40. a couple radio d.j.’s were excited enough to opened their box on the airthey were disappointed with the result, but it was topic of conversation for days prior
  41. 41. realistically, $10 of something usually isn’t very coolthe stuff Something Store sends typically isn’t eitherthere’s a few flaws to their model which limits their success,but they still embrace the power of suspense and even surprise
  42. 42. secrecy suspense surprise
  43. 43. the best mysteries have a surprising endinga surprise has the power to make a positive lasting impressionit makes the whole experience especially worthwhileand worth sharing with others
  44. 44. let me introduce two brand experiences that leverage surprise
  45. 45. first up, a storefront in Boston
  46. 46. nothing special, right?
  47. 47. take a closer look
  48. 48. I don’t even know what’s this place what that is called anyway? that’s toilet paper in thedisplay window yep, that’s that’s a chair for paper towels no one to sit on
  49. 49. it’s a strange placelet’s pretend you’re crazy enough to believe this isn’t anabandoned convenience store and are willing to go inside
  50. 50. (equally depressing)don’t let this poor quality photo fool you - that clerk is reallyas disinterested with you as you are with being here
  51. 51. this relic Snapple machine somehow fits the environmentwhile you’re here, you might as well get something to drink
  52. 52. turns out the Snapple machine didn’t dispense any Snapplein fact, it’s not even a Snapple machine
  53. 53. it’s a door
  54. 54. it sensed you were close, and just like in Star Trek,it whipped open to reveal another room
  55. 55. whoa
  56. 56. these are all rare and fairly expensive hipster goodsshoes, clothes, music, whateverthere’s even sales people to help you look aroundthe semi-classy space
  57. 57. don’t you love that the dumpy convenience store facadeis hiding items special enough to be put behind locked glass?the irony is awesome
  58. 58. it’s only when you hang out here long enoughthat you start to learn what this place is even called
  59. 59. branded on miscellaneous items and a sales person’sbusiness card, you’ll discover you’re at Bodega
  60. 60. Bodega has two stores like this but each has a different facadethere are typically lines outside the stores everyday
  61. 61. that’s because Bodega’s surprise is its marketingthey don’t even need a sign outside their door because thesurprising experience they offer is worth talking about
  62. 62. here’s another one that’s a little differentbrace yourself - it involves a pretty boring product
  63. 63. that’s an excavatorit excavatesit’s on display at a trade show in Japan
  64. 64. once again, take a closer look
  65. 65. that’s acontraption no one what’s it at this event has doing here? seen before and why is the it has no earthly excavator hangingbusiness excavating out with it?
  66. 66. also, whoa
  67. 67. the manufacturer of this excavator custom-built that towerto demonstrate how strong the hydraulic arm israther than show it digging up dirt,they had it scale a 90° cliff
  68. 68. they chose to surprise the trade show attendeesby doing something unconventionalit worked so well that people like you and meexperienced it too
  69. 69. even if you have a product that isn’t interesting to the masses,surprise can be your currency
  70. 70. mystery uses some amazing elements to make it compelling secrecy suspense surprise
  71. 71. in case I lost you:we are in the business of being interestingwe need to capture people’s interest to do our jobsbehaving mysteriously can be a provocative wayto draw people into our ideas
  72. 72. thanks@mattsummers