Behavioural design & why it should matter to you.

Daniel Tremayne-Pitter
Dark Matter
Published in
4 min readFeb 10, 2020

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So you’ve been buying ‘creative’ from your agency — they’re pushing the boundaries and showing you some new design executions.

You’re now wondering if the brand team will hand-grenade your new campaign. Feel familiar?

Over the years, we’ve met plenty of marketers looking for fresh and exciting ‘creative’. But, the subjectivity of artwork can cause untold challenges if it is the central premise of the campaign. Sign-off can descend into a merry-go-round of revisions until it resembles a PowerPoint designed by committee.

As frustrating as this may be, it is human nature to rebuke ideas that do not fit out personal paradigms. Our experience as marketers has moulded our perceptions and beliefs as to what works and what doesn’t — but is this stifling creativity and marketers’ ability to be bold.

We believe subjectivity is the enemy of marketing. Your audience is made up of fluid, evolving minds; continually modifying their behaviours and preferences. This can mean your traditional pen portrait and generalities based on demographics are simply no longer enough. Creative campaigns are falling victim to too opinion and too little fact.

There’s a better way.

Developing a solid strategy to inform design output should be integral to all marketing campaigns — yet, it is still often overlooked. Sure, Creative Directors (good ones) will consider the business challenge when developing creative assets. But it’s not always the case.

Minimising subjectivity should be central to the strategy. Using behavioural science, psychology and neurodesign principles to engineer an emotional response will always drives better quality campaigns. Strategies become more easily understood by brand teams and encourage enthusiastic buy-in from your extended organisation. More importantly, this can significantly boost your campaign performance — we call it Marketing Science.

Being cognisant of your own inherent biases as a marketer will enable you to view campaigns objectively; considering the core human behaviours that dictate how our audience will respond.

A quick example of using behavioural design in creative production? Sure.

In a recent campaign we successfully re-framed the idea of digital transformation for a global technology company.

Marketing complex technology propositions can significantly increase cognitive load for prospects. This proves extremely problematic when competing for net-new leads. An increased cognitive load is what our brain actively tries to avoid.

In the 21st century, this is heightened as we live and work in the ever-growing Attention Economy. Our attention is a finite commodity and, with an exponential growth in content and platforms, our minds are fatigued.

We asked ourselves: How might we re-frame the complexity of digital transformation to a quickly recognisable cultural parallel and cut through?

Our Marketing Science approach to the campaign uncovered a duality between the orchestration of digital infrastructure and musical compositions. CTO or Composer, they’re experts at using a selection of instruments to unlock new value in beautiful and exciting ways.

Informed by our strategy, we composed an original piece of music to capture attention in a busy content marketplace.

It’s a powerful score — reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s work. Why? We used behavioural design to elicit a powerful physiological response from the audience. Re-framing the challenge of digital transformation, we encouraged prospects to explore the customer journey. The profiling and lead capture opportunities that resulted were designed to minimise cognitive friction and maximise conversion.

As part of our process, we conduct experiments in our Labs to measure and optimise the effectiveness of our creative content. Typically, we use Electroencephalography (an EEG device) to measure electrical activity in the brain — this helps us assess the types and levels of emotion experienced during content consumption.

The results proved compelling. The campaign launched with enthusiastic buy-in from all stakeholders — Even the brand team.

Sadly we’re unable to share the results here, so you’ll have to trust us at this point — it out performed anything else in market and received global recognition.

Whilst this was just one component of a much broader campaign strategy — it serves as a reminder that producing creative assets using a marketing science process, and subsequently evidenced by neuroscience, can yield high-performance campaigns.

If you’re looking for next-level campaigns — make sure your agency’s creative strategy is based on something human, something biological, something real. At the very least you will feel more confident in spending your budget, at best — one of those awards with your name on it.

These principles can inform and evidence great design. Executed correctly, it will drive higher campaign engagement, leads and the fabled ROI numbers you have been looking for.

Not all campaigns are born equal.

Learn more about Dark Matter | Marketing Science Lab

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Daniel Tremayne-Pitter
Dark Matter

Head of Marketing Science @ Dark Matter | Behavioural Strategist | Marketer | Creative Technologist.