In our world of overstimulation, it’s hard to get a brain’s attention and even harder to hold it. How can your writing cut through the cacophony and get “heard?” And how can it create brand loyalty or even generate sales?
The human brain continually seeks patterns, likeness, and relationships. And it does its best memory work where it finds them. That’s one reason most of us still remembers exactly how each of these jingles ends:
- Good to the last drop…
- Like a good neighbor…
- I am stuck on Band-Aid…
- Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…
(Admit it: You sang some of those as you read them.)
Jingles slowly worm their way deep into the brain, but it’s not only because they appeal to its love of patterns and relationships.
It’s also because repetition carves ever-deepening pathways into the brain. Hear something dozens of times, and it starts to form a groove. With jingles, the grooves are even deeper (no pun intended!). That’s because so much more of the brain is involved where music is concerned—the motor centers keeping the beat as you bob your head, the language centers engaging with the lyrics, the visual centers picturing the musical notes or memories you associate with the song, and the emotional centers stimulated by all you associate with the music.
People who write jingles prey on this nature of the brain.
Content creators would do well to investigate any kind of psychology behind messages that stick. You can’t tap into the brain in all the same ways jingle-writers can, not without adding audio to your blogs or websites. (Personally, I’d rather take a punch to the head than be startled by music on autoplay on a website.) However, you can look for similar ways to form deep grooves in the brain. Here are some of those ways:
Metaphors and similes. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. A few carefully placed metaphors or similes can go a long way toward making your words memorable. If I tell you, “Writing a book feels like climbing backward up a wall with bowling balls chained to my ankles,” you’re more likely to tune in and remember it than if I say, “Writing a book is hard.” Just don’t use clichés.
Repetition. I want my baby back, baby back, baby back. For one of our clients that sells jewelry, I periodically blog a story about a real-life wedding proposal. After I wrote four or five of these, they became a theme within the blog. The repetition was familiar enough that readers could see “Real Romance” in the headline and know what they were about to get.
Rhythm and Poetry. Plop, plop! Fizz, fizz! Oh, what a relief it is! Through rhymes and repetition, lilts and cadence, words are often easier to remember and easier to connect to other subjects when they have a poetic quality. Try some word play. Try some alliteration. The occasional line that reads like poetry can really get inside your reader’s head.
Use imagery. Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat! (If you grew up with this one, try reading it without picturing a person hanging off the back of a trolley car singing it.) Paint a picture with your words, and you’ll engage the visual centers of the brain along with those centers that have to show up for reading and comprehension to take place. The more of the mind’s real estate you can engage, the better chance you have for sticking.
Above all else, remember that, in marketing, it’s pointless to worm your words into a reader’s memory unless you associate your words with your client’s brand or product, too. To this day, when someone sings, “You deserve a break today…” I have an impulse to steer toward a McDonald’s. You want your words to leave a mark that the brain associates with your client. It can build a subconscious sort of brand loyalty. And when the words later come to mind, the reader just might go shopping with your client.