Written by Canon Wing

I teach entrepreneurs and organizations the proven action steps to stand out within their market, improve the perceived value of their business, and better connect with their audience through naming, branding, storytelling, and communication platforms.

September 5, 2018

Does Your Brand Pass The Blink Test?

When your ideal individual first encounters your name, tagline, and logo, they decide how they feel about your brand in the first 3-5 seconds. The decision to delete or to dive in happens in the blink of an eye. One blink and it can make you millions, or lose you millions.

Let’s explore and unravel the secrets to passing The Blink Test, I’m going to provide you with the 3 Secrets to pass The Blink Test, by focusing on the emotional impact of a brand’s first impression.

First, what is The Blink Test?

In the wildly successful book “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell, the world was introduced to the science behind rapid decision making.

The first impression is an emotional impression. People often won’t remember exactly what was said, but they WILL remember how they felt.

We’ve all heard the many adages about first impressions: “First impression is the most important.” “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” “Always make a good first impression”, but have you ever wondered why first impressions are so important to a person?

Because the decision to allow someone new into our lives is an emotional decision.

It’s vulnerable. We don’t know if we can trust them, yet.

Whether we are hiring someone new, dating someone new, or just passing by someone briefly on the street, our first reaction to the encounter, is an emotional one.

We often “go with our gut.”

Research has shown that the decision to buy is also emotional. MRI scans revealed that the same parts of the brain are lit up by recognizing a brand as when the person recognizes a loved one.

Studies also reveal that when the part of the brain that controls emotions becomes damaged, that person loses the ability to discern one brand from another. The person stops having opinions about what they prefer.

When encountering a brand for the first time, we process it the same as meeting a person for the first time. We “get a feeling” and that feeling influences how we choose to proceed.

As a brand, you have 3-5 seconds to make that first impression; to influence your ideal individuals to “get a feeling” that your brand is right for them.

We see 5000 ads a day and we delete 99% of them. ON top of that, we only remember 80% of what we see a day, ads or no ads.

As a brand, you have 3-5 seconds of their attention before they decide to delete you.  That’s the blink test. And what do they see in those ‘make it or break it’ seconds? They see your Brand Name, Tagline, and Logo.

Does your Brand’s blink test tell a story? Does it tell an emotional story? Can you easily name that emotion? Is that emotion consistent across all three Name, Tagline, and Logo?

A good way to think about branding is to think about the first impression you make on new people you meet. They don’t know, love and trust you, yet. You must make the impression that they could love and trust you once they get to know you. Right? Ever meet someone’s parents for the first time? How many verbal and nonverbal clues, hints, stories, family history anecdotes did you try to squeeze into the first two-hour dinner?

OK now imagine you had only 3-5 seconds to make that impression…. That is The Blink Test.

A brand’s name, tagline, and logo are the first things your ideal individuals encounter. Name tagline and logo are the face, the introduction and the handshake of your brand.

Okay, so we all see 5000 branding messages a day.  We are professional deleters. Unless in the 3 seconds when your brand has their attention when your ideal individual sees your name, tagline, and logo, they think to themselves, “Finally! Finally, someone made the thing I was looking for!” And unless they lean in for the next 2 seconds and think “This is my tribe, this is the future I want!”; unless they think that, unless they feel that in their gut, you get deleted.

In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that this initial, gut reaction is accurate far more often than not, however; this split decision-making process can also be inherently flawed because it’s based on our experience and knowledge, which can be limited or even too specific.

In branding, this is why it’s so important to Value Every Vulnerability. Know your ideal individual so well, that your name, tagline, and logo help them overcome their past negative experiences; their limiting belief systems, their obstacles to buy.

It boils down to this: The brand that knows them best is the brand that passes the blink test.

The brand that knows them best is the brand that wins!

Let’s go over The Secrets For Passing the Blink Test.

1) Name: Clarity Outperforms Clever, Everytime.

A mistake new companies often make when naming their brand, is choosing something that is too personal, like an inside joke.

The Blink Test is pass/fail, people.

Choosing a name that requires your ideal individual to “figure it out” is a fail. Remember people will remember how you make them feel. Even if your name is kind of funny, or cute- if your ideal individual doesn’t understand it; they will feel like they don’t understand. People don’t like to feel like they don’t understand. It’s likened with feeling stupid, or like they missed something or being on the outside. To pass the blink test, you want your name to feel like home; welcoming, familiar, and inclusive….whatever that may mean to your ideal individual. (And not necessarily what it means for you, personally.)

Today, Subway is one of the world’s most successful sandwich stores, ever.

When Subway was founded, it failed TWICE because of the name. The first name was “Pete’s Super Submarines”. The store lost money the first year, so the founders thought it would be funny to change the name to, get this: “Doctor’s Associates Inc.”…yeah, this was based on an inside joke about one of the founder’s paying off his medical tuition with sandwiches. People didn’t get it. Of course, they didn’t! And not “getting it” can be a huge turn-off.

Annoyed and confused aren’t the best emotions for inspiring a sandwich craving, and under this weird, misleading ‘Doctor name’, Subway nearly sank.

When naming your brand, don’t play hard to get! Clarity outperforms clever, every time. Let your ideal individual know that you want them to be part of your brand community by being clear, open, and inviting.

Subway is clear, open and inviting. They showed us the way to the subs, alright… I guess that guy did wind up paying off his medical tuition with sandwiches!

I’m reminded of a Chinese Proverb

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right name.”

Know the emotion you wish to inspire in your ideal individual and choose a name that calls that emotion into being.

The next secret is,

2) Tagline: A Greater Future.

Studies show that 8 out of 10 of the average consumers will read a tagline, while only 2 of 10 people will read the first paragraph.

Typically a first paragraph would contain details about your brand’s story, reveal its values, and make a promise for a greater future; to pass the blink test, your tagline should capture the essence of all three.

How does one boil down a brand’s entire story, it’s value system and a promise for a greater future all in one concentrated sentence?

The answer again is by knowing the emotion you wish to inspire and choosing a tagline that calls that emotion into being.

But that’s not all. Your tagline should be an invitation that, should your ideal individual choose to accept, holds the possibility of having a better life.

Your tagline should be an invitation to A Greater Future.

This is where our mantra at Inspiration To  Millions comes into play: “Value Every Vulnerability.” When you value Every Vulnerability your ideal individuals have, it’s really your time to shine, as a brand as a friend, as a leader, and as a community. Your ideal individual, when presented with your brand, is going to be faced with some limiting beliefs, based on their past experiences. These limiting beliefs are the obstacles to buy that your brand must overcome, all in the 3-5 seconds of rapid, decision-making; The Blink Test.

The most common obstacles to buy are mindsets around time, money, ability and peer pressure.

Nike provides us with a great demonstration of how a tagline can change the game by Valuing Every Vulnerability.

Nike started out as a niche running shoe company, that only really appealed to certain male athletes. Soon after a successful initial launch, Nike began struggling to stay relevant.

Gladwell, (the author of Blink), wrote: “We don’t always know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.”

Nike was failing the blink test with women. Nike was failing the blink test with people who weren’t naturally athletic. Nike was failing the blink test with people who struggled with weight gain…people past a certain age who couldn’t run anymore…these demographics account for over half the US population!

Nike didn’t seem to stand a chance.

The company had to lay off 20% of its staff nationwide, and in a last ditch effort, they called in a few marketing experts, who came up with, “Just Do It”.

Within a year, “Just Do It” transformed Nike from a men’s running shoe company to an inspiring people to make positive changes company! That’s powerful stuff. That’s the power of branding.

Gandhi once said, “In a simple way, you can shake the world.”

“Just Do It” spoke to everyone; men, women, the young, the old, the rich, the poor…because it Values Every Vulnerability. (Time, money, energy and peer pressure).

Don’t have enough time to make it to the gym?

“Just Do It”

Think you’re too old to run a marathon?

“Just Do It”

Afraid of what others might think if you fail?

“Just DO IT!”

Nike’s customers weren’t just inspired to change workout habits either. Nike was receiving waves of fan mail from people saying that “Just Do It” inspired them to leave unfulfilling jobs, marry the loves of their lives, and follow all manners of previously abandoned dreams.

Talk about a concentrated sentence!

Nike’s tagline is only three words.

Three words that pass The Blink Test with flying colors because it’s an emotional, inclusive, Invitation to A Greater Future.

Finally, Let’s look into the secrets of a great logo.

3) Logo

In short, a Logo is: A Simple Story

American graphic designer, Paul Rand once said: “ A logo doesn’t sell, it identifies.”

In a blink, your brand’s logo should tell your ideal individual a clear, simple, emotional story that reveals what your brand is all about.

How is that even possible??

You may have guessed, the answer is:

by knowing the emotion you wish to inspire and designing a logo that calls that emotion into being.

Saul Bass, another famous graphic designer responsible for AT&T’s famous globe logo, once said: “Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company.”

Internal realities of any company (same as the internal realities of any person) are the emotions, the heart of your brand. The simplest truth that brought your brand to life: your brand’s story. And the logo tells that story in its most simplest form: a picture.

And you know what a picture is worth, right?

Most people are better at remembering faces than remembering names, and your logo is the face of your brand.

Your ideal individual should be able to see your logo, and not only identify your brand, but also identify with the emotional experience of using your brand. Identify with it so profoundly they’d wear it on their shirt (or notebook or in cases of Apple, Nike, Adidas… wear it permanently on their skin).

In fact, people identify so strongly with a brand’s logo, that changing an established logo can disrupt Brand Loyalty, even if the product is the same!

Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice once tried to change their logo from the iconic orange with that red and white straw poking out. Remember those commercials with kids trying to stab an orange with a straw? Classic! It tells a simple and delightful story.

Anyway, Tropicana changed that orange to an up-close shot of a very generic-looking glass of orange juice.

It didn’t look bad per se, the layout was open, and the overall look was fresh and bright, but people looked into the new face of Tropicana and didn’t recognize them anymore.

Tropicana’s customers were gone in a blink!

The move cost Tropicana $137 million dollars in sales in just under a month! Ouch! Did I mention failing the blink test can be expensive???

Gap had a similar experience when they changed their classic navy blue block logo to something else…it doesn’t really matter what they changed it to, what matters is that a face that Gap brand loyalists had known and loved for 20 years, just disappeared overnight.

By the end of the first day, the social media backlash for the logo change was so severe that Gap pulled off one the fastest recalls of all time. In just 6 days the classic navy blue logo had returned. The cost to Gap for this dire blink test fail was $100 million dollars.

When looking at your logo, today’s ideal individual wants to self-identify.

Know your ideal individual best, and design a logo that relates to their internal reality.

The brand that knows them best, passes the blink test and wins Brand Loyalty.

No matter what business you are in, Brand Loyalty is your business plan!

Let’s review The Secrets For Passing The Blink Test because I want to make certain you pass your blink test.

They are:

Name: Clarity Outperforms Clever, Every time.

Tagline: A Greater Future.

And Logo: A Simple Story.

Utilize The Secrets For Passing The Blink Test to delete-proof your Name, Tagline, and Logo!

Identify the emotion your brand wishes to inspire, and answer the following questions:

Does your brand’s name, tagline, and logo tell a story? Does it tell an emotional story? Can you name that emotion? Is that emotion consistent across all three?

Thank you so much for joining me today!

The Blink Test is something many brand’s dread, but when you do your research and know your ideal individual’s the best, The Blink Test can be harnessed to your advantage.

Be undeletable! Get out there and pass The Blink Test! And while you’re at it, remember to Love What You Do, and Love How You Do It.