We judge everything in milliseconds. We can’t help ourselves. And if you’re responsible for telling the story about a brand, than you had better sweat the details. It is in these tiny story morsels where our customers make snap judgements about our offering, and they don’t even realize they are doing it.
I finally got around to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, and from it I realized that our stories are often told in a blink of an eye: that all-important first impression. And despite popular belief, fast decision making isn’t necessarily bad decision making.
Gladwell writes about the adaptive unconscious where our snap judgements are made.
“It is a kind of a giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings… The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, setting goals, and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner.”
Although we are innately suspicious of our rapid cognition abilities, Gladwell has found that decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately. Why? Because our subconscious is working from the decision tree that we have planted, fertilized, pruned and nurtured throughout our lives to pick the most fruitful course of action on our behalf, typically without us even knowing.
We do judge books by their covers. We often leap before we look. Think on the run. And haste doesn’t always make waste. But beware brand storytellers, because even the little things can throw your story into a tailspin.
My adaptive unconscious delivered me a humorous irony when I was at Universal Studios with my family. I turned around and was face-to-face with a ferocious velociraptor poised to pounce from the tropical foliage. My eyes immediately scanned from his jaws filled with ivory spikes downs its scaly skin, past its stiletto claws to the warning sign: FRAGILE PROP, Please Don’t Touch. An involuntary laughed triggered within me. My brain deduced in a wink that describing a velociraptor as fragile is like pulling back the curtain to reveal the great wizard of Oz was a mere mortal. It was a swift buzzkill to the story Jurassic Park had spent hundreds of millions crafting in my mind.
What Blink underscored to me is that you must pay attention to every little and seemingly inconsequential detail in the brand story you tell and live. We humans are too good at deciphering bullshit on the run.