Branding Your Memories

I must have been two years old. I am standing in front of my dad who is lying on our black and rose filled couch. We are playing a game testing my ability to name things. He touches my nose and says, “Nose” and I reply, “Nose.”

“Mouth.”

Mouth.”

“Tummy.”

Tummy.”

And then he tickles me. This is one of my earliest memories.

The thing is – it never happened. Not to me anyway. This is a scene out of a cherished family recording between my dad and my older sister.

So what gives?

According to psychologists like Elizabeth Loftus, our memories are easily susceptible to manipulation and is one reason we make terrible eye witnesses. But according to a recent Wired Magazine article, this fluid memory also allows us to imagine a future.

Ask someone to recall the last time they were on a beach. They search their memory banks calling up the last time they hit the sand but research suggests they may also envision an alternative image of a beach, perhaps from a movie and it becomes part of their history. But can marketers encourage people to recall a Sandals advertisement as part of the story the tell themselves?

This has me thinking about the implications for marketers. Not in an Inception sort of way, but in how brands and products can become a part of the sort we tell ourselves.

Research suggests the answer is yes. But how valuable would that be?

Think about Coca-Cola. With a brand value of over $74 billion, Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most valuable brands, yet they continue to spend billions ($2.9 billion and growing) on advertising. Perhaps it’s to ensure that Coca-Cola continues to be more than just a drink, that it is a part of our minds and the story we tell ourselves about who we are and what we want to become.

So can other marketers stake their a claim in our brains and into our imagined memories? Of course. But the real trick may be to do it without breaking the bank.

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