The 52nd Law of Persuasion: The Law of The Crayon
The Law of The Crayon states that an ambiguous brand name, product, process or form of engagement the less resistance and reactance there will be in the mind of the listener.
Once reactance and then initial resistance has been bypassed, The Law of The Crayon may be very effective in the persuasion process again when resistance can be expected later in a message or conversation.
Getting past initial resistance or reactance can be a big factor in the profitability of any idea, product or brand. This doesn’t mean the influencer should always look for the ambiguous name or argument.
“Can I buy you a drink?” (Ambiguous)
“Can I buy you a Cabernet?” (Specific)
“I don’t like red wine. But thanks any way.”
Important: IF the individual enjoys and is READY/mentally prepared for a Cabernet, the response can be far more positive with specificity than ambiguity. Scarcity, Friends, Consistency, Conformity, etc., all have reduced effectiveness in a number of different contexts. The same is true with The Crayon. But as you will see, ambiguous communication has potent uses.
Consider this factor in branding Google (a seriously big number), Amazon (a river or a tall woman), Yahoo (a shout of delight or perhaps a not real bright guy), Apple (fruit, not phone), Starbucks (before Battlestar Galactica?). There’s a trillion dollars right in those few names. Consider this:
Humira, Eylea, Relimid, Rituxan, Enbrel, Herceptin, Eliquis, Avastin, Remicade, Xarleto.
Those 10 medications combined for almost $100,000,000,000 in sales last year. That is a hundred BILLION dollars of drugs (and growing).
Simply looking at the brand name of the medication, you can easily feel the ambiguity. There is no way to estimate what any of them does.
And now that you have heard the name, you have no “feelings” of reactance or resistance toward the product. (First impression = Success)
Now, look at the genius of The Law of the Crayon. Drugs enter the market and there is immediate reactance and resistance to them. Therefore those who are among the sharpest marketing minds on the planet are using simple techniques that open minds to sell their products.
It’s rather interesting that 9 of the 10 hundred billion dollar drugs have three syllables. (22% of words in English have 3 syllables.) Three syllables in a pharmaceutical product name appears to be rather magical.
The most commonly used letters in the English alphabet are E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S.
Without doing a detailed analysis, that’s what you basically see in the top drugs, notable exceptions being O.
The letter frequency reveals no big mystery. There is one uncommonly used (relatively unique) letter woven into those which you see most often, those that are in your name.
What about the uniqueness of the words themselves?
You notice that these words bear no resemblance to most other names of things in general, names of people in particular.
The names are ambiguous. Humira sounds like it could be a bone. Herceptin could be a botched play in the NFL. Eliquis could be a shape in geometry. But that’s about as far as a quick look takes you.
Key Point: A brand name that is ambiguous bears no negative emotional attachment or resistance to it.
An ambiguous brand name opens a DOOR and allows it to remain open while a carefully designed message enters.
Here’s a list of names that you can see how you feel about: Merck, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Novartis, Roche.
Not quite as neutral? More resistance? More emotion?
The name of your brand, product will determine just how much of your product will sell…and whether it is sold in the first place…
Sometimes ambiguity is the answer to a receptive mind.
Question: What THREE key points can you put to immediate use from the robust pharmaceutical industry?
Key Point: The make up and purpose of your service or product is going to be different from the NAME of your product.
Key Point: The feel of the name of the medication (in the above cases) is targeted at either the provider (doctor) or the end user (patient) and it’s name is PRIMED (see Science of Influence Home Study Program) based on desired outcomes and other medications that are selling well at the time while remaining ambiguous
Key Point: The medication names are NOT SIMPLE to decode. You don’t see “cough medicine” or “feel better.” The names are unusual and out of the ordinary. Unique and ambiguous.
Discovery by the Creators of Color Crayons
Pack of 24? Includes Scarlet, Violet Red, Yellow Green, Cerulean, Indigo, Dandelion, Apricot, and Grey…
Why did your parents’ crayon box only yield six colors while kids today are enjoying a dizzying 120?! The answer is in the naming: today’s kids are scribbling away with “Razzmatazz” and “Tropical Rain Forest.” This move towards ambiguous naming is extremely effective according to The Journal of Consumer Research.
“The results from these studies suggest that color names can influence propensity of purchase, and that this effect is related to the typicality and specificity (or lack thereof) of the names and people’s underlying assumptions that information in the marketplace should conform to certain norms,” propose Elizabeth Miller (Boston College) and Barbara Kahn (University of Pennsylvania).
Miller and Kahn demonstrate through this study that what is in a name, although it may be ambiguous, matters; in fact, the more atypical and unspecific the better. The authors note that while previous research has touched on similar topics, this area of research is understudied. “In addition, although researchers have suggested that people carry the assumptions of conversational norms into settings other than interpersonal conversation, no one has demonstrated that these norms also play a role in marketing communications.”
The bottom line: 120 colors in a crayon box may be just the beginning. Consumers love these names and it is a marketing dream come true. The authors conclude “that consumers prefer atypical and unspecific (ambiguous) names to more typical and more specific names (common descriptives).”
Where can you get more information like this?
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