By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist
When you think of the word “creative,” what comes to mind? We often think about creative pieces of art or creative habits that people have, but we don’t give much thought to what information we’re conveying about ourselves or our brands through our creative work.
This is an important thing to think about because psychologically, when you express yourself creatively you allow people to know you more deeply. People will know more about you if you share an interesting hobby or an interesting characteristic about yourself than if you share something that is a common interest.
This doesn’t just apply to people, it also applies to brands. For example, in the world of advertising and marketing, going in a direction that is unexpected or that differentiates a company or product from others is advantageous.
Eric W. Dolan explores this in more detail in the article titled, “Our creative ideas are viewed as a window into our true selves.” In the article, he discusses how Jack A. Goncalo got inspiration for a research study while looking at different houses with a real estate agent. During the home tours, he noticed that different homes had different candle scents, and many people were expressing their opinion about the scents. When one of the individuals made a dirty joke about scented candles, Dr. Goncalo became curious about what creative expressions (e.g. dirty jokes) reveal about someone’s personality. He went on to conduct a scientific study demonstrating that creative thoughts can make others feel like they know more about you.
This is true for how we feel about others and about our perception of companies and brands. That’s why it is so important for companies to distinguish themselves and to get attention with eye-catching creative advertisements. Being unique makes you more compelling and gets folks psychologically engaged with the person, brand or product.
For example, Elon Musk is doing a lot to improve society with electric vehicles, solar power and exploring the atmosphere, but he also followed his desire to build a flame-thrower company. This not only shows us more about him, but it also communicates the perspective that he brings to the company: a unique person following his own intuitions and passions. Of course, his unique views might be applying a flame-thrower to his own brand right now, as he’s currently getting some heat about his views on society’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
In the book Fanocracy by David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott, they share the story of a dentist who also skateboards. This is distinguishing and makes him unique as a dentist, contributing to his ability to grow 14,000 followers on Instagram. Presumably, this hobby demonstrates something about him. David Meerman Scott has experienced this first hand himself. He keeps track of all the live shows he’s been to, observing how musicians speak to a group of fans in ways that build up their own brand. Whenever he gives talks, he mentions his interest in music, which helps the audience build a deeper connection with him and a greater sense of familiarity.
Rory Southerland, founder of Ogilvy’s Behavioral Science Practice, says, “In competitive markets, it pays to have and to cultivate eccentric tastes.” We realize this as a society; we enjoy knowing others’ unique tastes and hobbies because it shows us so much about their personality.
This plays out in the way that colleges look at the hobbies of their applicants. In the past, colleges were impressed by students who did charity work and who played piano and violin for example. Now, college admission essays are flooded with students with these same lists of hobbies, and they no longer distinguish themselves from each other. We’re left asking “Are they doing charity work because they want to help people or because they want to check off that box in their admissions essay?”
Now more than ever, it is crucial to demonstrate the unique aspects of your character. So, what do your creative outputs reveal about you as a person, as a brand or as a company?
To learn more about how Intermark helps brands get creative, join our upcoming webinar “Survive to Thrive: Psychology of Marketing in a Reopening Economy.”