The Foundation of Memory Formation and How It Affects Your Marketing Campaign

The human brain is very efficient. In fact, all of human evolution has wired us to become efficient at everything we need. Most people have noticed that we only remember certain things and this is indeed an aspect of that efficiency. Have you ever met someone and then on a different day you notice them again but you can’t remember their name? Why can’t you? You already learned their name once! Was it Jim? Or Jeffrey? Eventually, you ask them again. It was Paul! You weren’t even close!


You may have noticed this with song lyrics, too. You might be singing a song you’re really a fan of and then you can’t remember the next line. Why not? You definitely know the song.

The problem isn’t with you. Your brain just didn’t decide that was important information. You know lots of songs and there wasn’t anything special about this one so your brain just kind of stuck it on the bottom shelf and forget about it. Remember this, because we will come back to it later.

A pair of people relaxing by a lake

Everything we experience is stored as a short- or long-term memory

Most people realize there are two types of memory, “short term” and “long term.” Officially, our short term memory is less than 30 seconds. People forget most of what they see because it’s not important to their survival. Don’t believe us? What color shirt is your boss wearing today? You’ve probably talked to him or her a few times today already but you don’t know.

A little more information about these:

Short-term memory

Think of this like RAM in your computer. It contains everything you’re currently processing and speedily discards everything that isn’t required for further processes.

Long-term memory

Look at this as being like the hard drive of your computer. It holds everything that you might need to use again at some point in the future. All long term memories are formed when new physical connections are made by neurons in the brain, and the connection stays based on how often you use that memory.

Why is all of this important? How does any of this have anything to do with marketing?

Marketing is designed to make people aware of a product. In recent years, advertising has moved away from being specifics-driven to being experience-driven. Think back to vehicle commercials from 60 years ago (you may have seen these online if you hadn’t been born yet). They basically involved a guy standing there talking about the car, listing what makes it different. Each commercial like this was phenomenally boring, as if someone was reading you a report about the car, like there was going to be a test later. What number of horsepower does it have? How many seats does it have? How big is the engine? Yawn. Are you going to remember any of that?

Think about car commercials presently. No one says anything about the car because they are trying to sell you the feeling of owning one. Clearly, they don’t expressly tell you how much better your life will be if you buy one, but they show you with scenic views and exciting people driving the car. They are selling a feeling. That feeling gets embedded in your long term memory because your mind has placed value on it because it wants that feeling of happiness. If you buy that car you will have a better life; your long term memory remembers.

With our experiential campaigns, we take selling a feeling to the tenth degree. In every campaign we don’t just show visitors how amazing a product is, we let them feel it for themselves. For a food product, attendees can try it. For a clothing product, they can see models wearing it and get samples themselves. They celebrate with us. They talk with other people. It’s an entire celebration centered around creating memories through positive experiences with the consumer. Not only does this create long term memories, but it associates the products with excitement and good vibes which means that the attendees are not only going to remember the merchandise, but they’re going to form a good impression with it that is going to last. It’s the marketing holy grail.

A lot of people with their feet and hands in a circle

The feelings you experience in any situation determine how effectively you will remember it

Indeed, researchers have hypothesized that memory is closely attached to emotional involvement. This aspect is exactly what makes experiential so engaging. You may have experienced something like this before. Think about a time that was very stressful or very thrilling for you. You might remember every part of everything that happened, every moment with perfect clarity. Why? Because of the emotional aspect.

Remember before when we talked about how your brain didn’t consider something important so you didn’t remember it? That’s a pitfall of normal advertising. Sure, you watch the ad, or see the banner, but inside you just don’t care. There’s nothing to go along with it. No feelings. No emotion. When everyone is surrounded by endless advertising, if there’s nothing unique about it, no one is going to remember it. This is another aspect that makes experiential different. With experiential, everything becomes unique. It’s not just an advertisement, it’s an experience.

container of ice cream with chocolate

What makes us remember one brand of ice cream over another?

Consider this: you are walking to work and you see 3 posters for ice cream brands. You probably forget about each one after you see it because it’s not important. Ice cream is good, but there’s nothing besides maybe a photograph of ice cream there that makes you think about it for a second. Each poster is trying to persuade you to want to buy whatever brand it is, but there’s nothing there besides an image. You have no feelings toward any of them, and you might feel like ice cream, but you just don’t care. Then, as you continue walking, you see a wrapped truck that is serving ice cream for free to promote a new product from an ice cream company. You have a few minutes before you have to get to work so you decide to stop by and check it out. There are a lot of individuals there and they seem to be having fun and you want to know what is transpiring. You get closer and start talking to a brand model who tells you about the company, whom you have never heard of, but about which you now want to learn more, and offers you a free sample of their new product. You grab it. Look at it. You feel it in your hands. You are enveloped in the energy of the company and experience. Now you have already forgotten about the numerous ice cream ads you saw not 5 minutes earlier because you’re now eating a sweet treat on your way to work from a company with which you have an emotional connection. You have just formed an authentic relationship with a new brand. This connection is infinitely more powerful than any other form of marketing available. So to the point, it would actually be more difficult for another brand to take the place in your mind once you have made this connection. This is why brands do experiential. This is why Roots3 Productions does what we do. We deliver the experience of a product to consumers. Not just pictures, not just information, but an actual emotional component to the process that is absent in every other form of marketing. Consumers remember it because the experience puts it into their long-term memories.

With advertisers competing for space in your brain, the best way to design a memorable experience is to actually get the product into people’s hands, and there’s no better way to do this than experiential.

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