Scientists say that the human brain processes the element of surprise in a way that amplifies the underlying emotion of the experience 4X greater than normal. So, something that is typically experienced as “good”, becomes four times better if it comes as a surprise. The same works in the negative. If someone experiences a negative interaction that is a surprise, the overall feeling of it is four times worse than if expected.


So, whether its good or bad, if we are surprised by something, we are hardwired to process that experience four times as deeply as ordinary.

As brand builders, without regard to whatever we’re selling, it's important to remember that we’re really in the experience business. Brands create experiences. People remember and create emotional connections to those experiences. Figuring out ways to inject surprise into our brand can be a way to "supercharge" our marketing.


In essence, this insight can be used as a powerful way to “hack” your marketing to create even more compelling experiences and stronger consumer connections.

Think about how to plant little “Easter Eggs” here and there throughout the brand experience. The surprise aspect of doing that could help to meaningfully bond consumers to your brand - creating greater brand equity, loyalty, and ultimately consumption. It creates more bang for every marketing buck!


There are plenty of ways to approach this. Some have put messages under their bottle caps or on their clothing tags. Maybe its what Cracker Jack was after with the toy in the box. Generally, the growth of event marketing taps into this a bit; companies creating experiences for consumers to live their brand.

A particular area of opportunity is customer support and service. Most people have such low expectations in this area that when they actually experience really positive support or service, they are very pleasantly surprised by it. It's simply human nature to like being treated nicely. When our problems are actually handled in professional and even nurturing ways, it makes an impact. With the understanding about the power of surprise, these low expectations actually represent a powerful potential tool.


Many marketers limit their thinking about the brand experience to product interaction, marketing, and advertising - without taking to heart the fact that EVERY consumer touch point either builds or erodes your brand. Creating a positive service experience is a great way to enhance consumer connections and create even greater loyalty. Sure, it may involve incremental costs, but the long term gains could make a real difference in connecting consumers to your business.

To learn more about how to apply the principles from this blog to your business, please get in touch! michael[at]


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Tags: brand, brandstrategy, customersupport, strategy, surprise


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