How to get young people to vote

I really like this TEDx talk in the UK by Rick Edwards. Focused on a common challenge that has been widely covered in many countries and regions, he makes some simple recommendations. Best of all, he avoids some of the common and incorrect perceptions spread by the media – e.g. that young people are lazy or apathetic.

And like all good ideas that are effective in changing behaviour, he starts by giving people the benefit of the doubt. Most people after all “want” to change. Most of the time, it’s our job to make the change easier, or as the Heath brothers always say, “shrink the change”.

Love what you do

Authenticity is one of those words that is used so often as to be almost meaningless. But I wanted to share this lovely video that profiles a farm in Italy – Corzano e Paterno. It’s wonderful. A true inspiration I think to anyone who is seeking out their true passion or calling. If you can love what you do, it doesn’t get any better.

Feel first

As always, people need to feel first before they’ll do something. Emotion first, action second.

When you take the time to understand what makes people tick, find a genuine connection to your brand/ organization or stand for something bigger than yourself, you’re halfway there. Here’s a few stand-out examples.

Lurpak – a simple brand of butter became the champion of good food

Omega Co-Axial Chronometer – took my breath away the first time I saw it

Bald Cartoons – proof that truly creative ideas matter, with the power to help make the world a little better

HBO GO – the perfect demonstration of why a truly great insight makes the difference

The world’s toughest job

Save the Children – not your typical “one second a day” video

Waitrose – the story of a boy and his carrot

Three – ending on a happy note, the sillyness of the internet captured through the freedom of a spring ride on a bike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top #8 Sunday Reads – #12

Sharing a few bits and pieces from the last week;

1. Great write-up on the so called Ministry of Nudges in the UK via the New York times

At the core of nudging is the belief that people do not always act in their own self-interest. We can be undone by anxiety and swayed by our desire to fit in. We have biases and habits, and we can be lazy: Faced with a choice, we are more likely than not to go with a default option, be that a mobile ringtone or a pension plan.

2. Another reminder via the Economist of the power of emotion in advertising – in part inspired by the thinking of Daniel Kahneman, a champion psychologist.

3. Here’s an elegant way to define the power of behavioural economics – by defining what it’s not – via Ideas42

4. A beautiful film that communicates the message of sustainability – Work Wear, by Patagonia

5. Great series & partnership between W+K and D&AD. Called I wish I’d done that, it features some the best in advertising and design talking about work they wish they’d done. In this example from W+K, founder Dan Wieden shares a wonderful idea focused on shifting cultural attitudes toward climate change.

6. A beautiful and respectful film to help build awareness for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – “Because who is perfect?”. Created for Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled, the idea is original and confronting yet thought provoking.

7. In this lovely idea by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, “touch tours” are being offered for visitors who are blind and visually-impaired.

8. A perhaps my favourite video of the past few weeks. The folks at RSA created a charming and inspiring animation of a talk by Brené Brown in which she describes the difference between empathy and sympathy. Via the always brilliant Brain Pickings

Top 9 Sunday Reads – #11

It’s been a while, but here’s a few stories, ideas and links that have grabbed my attention over the last little while

1. A great little nudge that could help change behaviour by changing habits. Called Car Mode, it’s a brilliantly simple concept that I hope Apple will embrace and make happen.

2. A lovely idea from Ikea and their agency (SMFB) in Oslo. The “Built to Last” campaign helps to overcome the perception that their furniture is tasteful but cheap, while also communicating a positive sustainability message.

3. A bit of fun from Ellen in honour of The Great American Smokeout.

4. A new series of  blog posts from The Guardian on the science behind behaviour change. Via the Guardian Sustainable Business division

5. A beautifully illustrated version of the Terry Gross interview with Maurice Sendak not long before his death.

 

6. This is a short but wonderful article again from The Guardian about the importance of harnessing passion and emotion, and driving it toward action. Life will always get in the way, so we must always help people navigate through the day to day challenges they face, and make the desired behaviour as easy as possible. We must shrink the change at all costs.

7. Wonderful video by GoldieBlox that is popping up on news feeds everywhere. They make engineering toys for girls.

 

8. A random bit of brilliance from Banksy that packs a punch – Sirens of the Lambs

 

9. More great storytelling from Google – as always, a reminder of the irresistible power of a good story.

Stories matter

Remember how much you loved a good story when you were a kid? Whether read to you by your parents, or crawled up in bed late at night unable to put that book down.

“I’m wondering what to read next.” Matilda said. “I’ve finished all the children’s books.”
Roald Dahl, Matilda

As we grow older, life gets complicated and we get distracted by many things. But we never lose our passion for stories – a good story is irresistible.

And stories are a powerful tool for brands and organizations, especially when you’re working to change behaviour. Stories appeal to our emotions, the most powerful influence on our behaviour. Emotion can put a destination at the top of the list, motivate us to want to choose one brand over another without even knowing why, or help nudge us toward healthier behaviour. As the Heath brothers put it, the fight between our emotional and rational self is best demonstrated through the analogy of the elephant and the rider – with the elephant as our emotional self, and the smaller rider as our more logical side. It’s a wonderfully simple image, and it sums up in an instant the power of our emotions. A rampaging elephant is virtually unstoppable.

But why exactly do stories have this affect, and why can they be so powerful for brands?

One of the more central aspects of a good narrative is its ability to convey a sense of authenticity. If brands actually have a story and take the time to tell one, then it means they have a purpose. It’s communicating the “why” of what they do, and the journey that got them where they are today (or even where they are headed). When we can see the motive behind why people do what they do, we embrace it and are more likely to believe it. It might be a story telling us about something they want to change, an event in their life that inspired them, or just a natural passion that has always driven them. Having a clear motive that explains the “why” of what you do is an important element in any good story, since it helps other people believe what you are saying. Incidentally, this is also why motives matter so much in cases of criminal law.

Of course, some of these stories might be made up, but it’s easier to spot those less authentic attempts today, given our easy access to information and social connections.

And when those efforts are genuine, a good story can be irresistible, forming a powerful base from which to clarify or strengthen a brand. Like some of these examples I wanted to share. They are from a variety of small and large brands across variety of sectors – with each demonstrating the power of a good story to connect with us at that emotional level (and get the elephant in us all moving).

1. Bamboo Sushi is a seafood restaurant in Portland, Oregon with a strong belief in sustainable fishing. Their website includes this message defining their beliefs.

Ask any person to define “sustainability” and each one will give you a different definition of what sustainability means. Because sustainability is such a broad concept, our approach to sustainability is inclusive and multi-dimensional.

While this is an important message for sure, it doesn’t really tap into the story behind why they do what they do. However, it’s this remarkable hand-made story below that really pulls me in. Motivated by a desire to change things, Bamboo Sushi has a set of beliefs that drive how they do business. So now, because I understand the “why” of their business, I empathize with them. I want to believe them.

 

2. This wonderful example for the Amsterdam Museum brings the 16th century city to life with a great story.

3. Here’s a lovely story about a rooftop beekeeper in New York that’s personal, intimate and inspiring.

 

4. Open Journalism is a living, breathing thing, and as such, it cries out for a good story. In this brilliant spot for The Guardian, it’s conveyed as fluid and unpredictable, with a purpose focused on challenging stereotypes. What really happened to the Three Little Pigs? Why did they do what they did?

 

5. The power of stories is also why TED has become such a phenomenon. It’s about great ideas wrapped up in personal, real life narratives. In this case, it’s been used to great effect by Ridley Scott for his upcoming movie Prometheus, with the character played by Guy Pearce delivering a talk in the future (TED2023).

 

6. This story introduces us to Kraken rum by telling the mythical story of The Kraken. A rich and fantastical story well told – the stuff of legends. I’m not even a rum drinker, but I can’t help but love the brand.

 

7. If anyone should have a big universal story to tell, it’s NASA – a magical story of adventure, discovery and inspiration. The first spot below is the fan-made version, followed by the official one (We are the Explorers). The official one is voiced by non other than Optimus Prime, a nice touch.

 

 

8. We know we feel great empathy for our pets, so telling a story about a dog who worries about protecting his/ her bone provides a great emotional platform to talk about insurance.

 

9. In this story, GE demonstrates the role they’ve played in Healthcare by telling a great story through the eyes of their employees. They experience the true impact of their work when they meet a group of cancer survivors. Along the way, we discover the “why” or purpose of GE, and we feel something.

 

Anyway, just a few thoughts. I’m off now to finish reading the 3rd book in the Hunger Games Trilogy

Making behaviour change about everyday things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behaviour change efforts will always be more effective if you start by considering how people behave in their home, at work – in the real world. It might seem an obvious point, but we don’t live in a world of units, milligrams, servings or calories. Rather, we drink from glasses, eat from plates, use cups as a measuring tool, and often equate exercise as something that gives us permission to eat more. By communicating with people in these terms, we are giving them the information they need to act. By building on how people live their life, we effectively “shrink the change” by going with the flow of human behaviour – rather than competing with it. It’s a key first step I believe when considering how to frame many behaviour change initiatives.

I was reminded of this during a recent visit to a naturopath. She was talking about the amount of vegetables I eat every day (funnily enough, even as a vegetarian, I can still eat more). But when giving me my prescription, she asked what would be a more relevant term – “servings” or “cups”. For me, it’s cups, and I’d suggest for many others as well. Fruit might work well as servings, but it’s a different matter when talking about vegetables (given how we generally prepare and eat them).

So how might that apply in other campaigns focusing on health promotion?

There’s this effort from Change4life, with a focus on helping people reduce those “sneaky” drinks in their day. Smartly I think, they chose to talk about the idea based on glasses not units. If course, while everyone drinks from different sized glasses, it was communicating a broader message through TV. Online tools and community efforts can help to educate people on the idea of a standard sized drink or glass. But I think they are off to a great start by tackling the issue in terms people can relate to, rather than spending considerable energy to educate people on the idea of units of alcohol.

 

Or what about this wonderful solution to the challenge of health labeling on food. Instead of trying to find simple ways to showcase the amount of fat in our food, it gets to the heart of the matter by converting fat to energy. It does this by highlighting how much exercise we would have to do to work off the fat we’ve just eaten. Fantastic!

Of course, given how effective it would be in making people think (and change their behaviour), I would guess it’s likely to face extreme opposition from private industry.

In another example, the new USDA food guide (ChooseMyPlate.gov) released last year replaced the pyramid with a more relevant graphic focused around a plate. Again, a good attempt to relate information in terms people can connect with.

By understanding how people think, how they translate information, how they behave at home, at work, in the car, at the gym, we will give ourselves a better chance of changing behaviour. It’s not rocket science really. It’s simply about ensuring we’re not getting overwhelmed by the “curse of knowledge” within the industry we find ourselves in. It’s about converting all that rich data and information into something meaningful  – something that builds on our existing behaviour as we nudge people toward healthier habits.