Most great catalysts for change start with an inquisitive question. For brand marketers and retailers, I believe the fundamental question that keeps them up at night is rooted in how some brands defy the law of commoditization, being able to charge more for their product in a competitive marketplace. The question they ask themselves is “Why do consumers desire certain brands to the point that they are willing to wait overnight in line in front of a store to be able to purchase them?”
At the heart of all great brands and brand experiences is the ability to create a strong sense of desire that goes well beyond the functional benefits. Since desire is an emotion, it can be very elusive and at times unattainable for most organizations. But what if we could prescribe a set of rules that would stack the cards in favour of building desire in brands. For example, if you are a retailer or a service provider that depends on the built environment to deliver your brand (or have a significant investment in a bricks and mortar channel of distribution), how do you create desire for your brand and, more importantly, for your built environment?
To answer these questions and to identify a set of principles that drive desire, I first explored its definition from a consumer behaviour stand point and a neural processing perspective. As a result of technological advancements, recent research has focused on uncovering how the mind works.
A 2008 study entitled “The Neural Correlates of Desire” showed, using a range of visual stimuli monitored through CT scanners, that the human brain categorizes any stimulus according to its desirability by activating three different brain areas: the superior orbitofrontal cortex, the mid-cingulate cortex, and the anterior cingulate cortex. These brain areas all form integral parts of the limbic system which is involved with emotion formation and processing, learning and memory.