When the crew of the Titanic noticed the iceberg, it was already way too late. Literally, it is only the tip of the iceberg that is visible above water, roughly 90% is hidden. It was an underwater spur of ice that scraped along the starboard side of the ship for about seven seconds that sent the Titanic to its tragic grave. Typically it is the subliminal and the hidden that is the most effective.
Sensory Branding is a form of marketing that harnesses the power of the subliminal, appealing to the multi-sensory experience that makes up the human experience. It is intriguing to become aware of the many invisible influences that are hidden to the conscious mind. If you walk into any Walmart store in the States, you will notice stacks of drinks and chips lining the entrance- brightly colored and in patterns, followed by the all the fruit and the florist. The coloring, patterns, and pleasant aromas are specifically designed that way because it attracts and triggers a response from your brain, getting you into an excited and prime state for spending.
Here are 6 other forms of subconscious influence that you were not aware of:
1. Palm Reading.
What if you were told that there was a 40% difference in attention, retention and ‘likeability’ depending on whether you spoke with your palms facing up, down, or if you used your finger? Allan Pease is an Honorary Professor of Psychology at ULIM (International University of Moldova), also known as “Mr Body Language” references a study that took three different audiences and tested on their level of attention and retention after listening to a presentation. They were also asked to give an adjective that described how they perceived the speaker. A person speaking with his palms facing upward yielded significantly greater results- our brains perceive seeing the palms as non-threatening and a sign of openness. The palm down and finger use conveys authority and can be interpreted as a threat- think Hitler and his infamous salute.
If you are feeling disconnected from a speech or a presentation, or give you are the one presenting and are receiving negative vibes, take a look at your hand position- that could be a game-changer.
2. Jaywalking & Dress.
There is the classic example from the field of Social Psychology on conformity that points to research showing that people are more or less likely to jaywalk depending on the dress, appearance, and status of an initiator. The more ‘respectably’ dressed the initiator or first person to jaywalk appeared, the more people would follow.
The way you dress has enormous impact on your level of influence toward others. It may just be the very excuse you needed to spend that little extra on that suit or dress, but it could mean the difference between whether people will follow your lead or not.
3. Choices, Choices, Choices.
On the surface, the idea of having 31 different flavors of ice-cream or 20 different restaurants to choose from seems very appealing. However business and marketing strategists have done their homework and have found that there is a paradox to choice and that the more options available, the less likely a decision or a purchase will be made. The brain simply does not do well when it has to wrestle with too many options. Social psychologists Sheena Iyengar seems to be the ‘go-to’ expert with her studies on selling fruit jams and retirement funds. Her research team discovered that, when given 2 choices for retirement funds, 75 percent participated, but when given 59 choices, only 60 percent did.
If you feel overwhelmed with choice and making a decision, a great strategy is to quickly narrow down to 3 options that most appeal to you. If you are giving a pitch, 3 is often a magic number for the brain to play around with.
4. Pearly Whites.
Long before we are even able to verbalize our thoughts or emotions, our subconscious mind has already made up a decision for us. There are many studies that will affirm most job interview decisions are concluded within the first few moments of a meeting. First Impressions are crucial. Dr. Vivian Diller is a psychologist who studies the role of beauty in contemporary culture and has pointed out that of all human facial features, it is a person’s smile that elicits the most positive and immediate reaction from others. Along with the positive therapeutic effects of smiling, a Penn State University study agrees with Dr Diller’s statements that smiling causes us to appear more likable, courteous, and even competent. Want a head-start for winning every encounter and conversation you have? Simply smile.
5. I See Your True Colors.
As mentioned in the introduction regarding the power of color, there is a very specific reason why Macdonald’s and Burger King use red and yellow as a part of their logo; a reason why hospitals are white; and why Starbucks uses green. Color has been shown to trigger numerous emotional responses. So much so that there are fields devoted to color therapy and color psychology. The next time you are choosing your outfit, think of the emotional responses you will elicit. Going for a job interview? Are you going to wear colors that convey power or submission?
The general definition explains that priming happens when an exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. To make that relevant, if you were to walk into a room and then read the list of words: worried, Florida, old, lonely, grey, selfishly, careful, sentimental, wise, stubborn, courteous, bingo, withdraw, forgetful, retired, wrinkle, you may be shocked to find out that you will leave the room slower and feeling more sluggish than when you walked in. Malcolm Gladwell highlights this experiment in his book Blink. In another experiment, students were shown to interrupt a professor much quicker after reading ‘impolite’ related words than if they read ‘polite’ related ones.
If you have ever been told not to think of a white elephant, you have experienced the effects of priming. Embed a thought into the mind and the mind will naturally focus on it. In terms of being influenced, it is essential to be aware of what words-particularly adjectives are being applied in conversations and especially if they are calls to actions and making decisions.
Perhaps the most helpful tool against falling for any form of invisible influence is developing more mindfulness and awareness- being able to assess and evaluate your emotional responses and determine whether or no they match up to your own personal desires. Ultimately being comfortable and confident that the decision you have made is your own. Hopefully, this article was helpful for creating more awareness in your life.