Sunday, March 30th, 2008 13:07:19

Justifying Past Purchases with New Research: Now That’s Creative

Finally, a study backs up what we intuit. Seeing brand logos affect people’s behavior. Isn’t that the whole point of brand advertising? But wait, this study is not about brand advertising driving sales – this study is about brand images driving people’s behavior, whether or not they purchase the product, even if they do not realize they have seen the brand.

In the study, Automatic Effects of Brand Exposure on Motivated Behavior: How Apple Makes you˜Think Different, (Grainne M. Fitzsimons, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Gavan J. Fitzsimons); published in the April issue of The Journal of Consumer Research, the authors proved that seeing brand logos affected people’s behavior.

The study included four brands: Apple, IBM, Disney Channel and E!. All four brands were positively viewed, but for different attributes.

“Participants exposed to the Apple brand outperformed IBM-primed and control participants on a standard measure of creativity, and participants primed with the Disney Channel reported more honest responses to a social desirability test than those primed with E! logos or control participants. Results showed that this happened only when the participants had the same goal as the brand and they perceived that their goal in that area had not been met.

The study found that brands “initiated goal-directed behavior only when the brands were associated with qualities desired by the individual.” Brands attributes and personal goals need to match for the brand to impact behavior.

Reading this research reinforced my latest purchases. I recently changed jobs (well, I quit a salaried position and started writing full time – but it sounds better if I say I “changed jobs”). Writing requires creativity. During the transition, I moved from the standard PC world to the Apple world. I am not one for long transitions. I now have an iMac, iPhone, iPod (make that 2) and MacBook Air (on which I am now typing).

My thought process went something like this: big transition – big change – big need to be creative/ independent/ and be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (or something like that). To me, these thoughts provided sufficient justification for the transition to Apple.

Knowing that I would need copious amounts of training, I signed up for the Apple one-to-one program. This is a one-year, $99 program that includes up to an hour of personal training per week.

I read the study results after I had already purchased all of my Apple items. While I am only a focus group of one, I decided to determine if viewing the Apple logo had made me more creative.

So far I have: created my own Web site for the America to Anywhere for Arthritis (A2A4A) marathon training (, created a podcast (also on the site), and sent my brother-in-law a happy birthday video of my children singing.

Score: creative 3, not 0

Last week, I went in for my fourth training session. The first three sessions had been focused on work-related items. This time I decided a little fun was in order. I took in our family’s video camera and my MacBook Air. After I arrived 10 minutes late (delay due to taking the kids to school), we spent 10 minutes looking for the firewire to connect the video camera to the MacBook Air, (I had forgotten it). Sony of course has a proprietary firewire, so we moved to plan B.

Score: creative 3, not 1

Plan B, learning to work more efficiently in Pages, the word-processing software included in iWorks. The program has incredible templates built into the program. These templates make it easy to add pictures, media and create newsletters, brochures, banners, etc.. I learned how to create a newsletter and add pictures with a mask, creating a picture in various shapes (not hard, but cool). I was being creative.

Score: creative 4, not 1 Unfortunately the iWorks software had not been installed correctly on my MacBook Air, so I used the store’s iMac.

Score: creative 4, not 2

I persevere – after all, creativity requires perseverance.

Returning to my office – I attempted to move from the Apple version of Microsoft Outlook (Entourage) to Apple mail. Having read that the Apple logo was making me more creative – I felt compelled to use it to the exclusion of all others. I felt my creativity would be unstoppable. But I was wrong; I give up after an hour and a half.

Score: creative 4, not 3

I either need longer arms, a shorter keyboard, or to quit wearing my watch. The MacBook Air is perfectly proportioned to cut off the circulation in my hands as the edge of the computer hits my watch and bracelet.

I removed my watch and bracelet, and hoped my accuracy would improve as a result.

Score: creative 4, not 4

My difficulties, offered here a bit in jest, show the importance not only of brand but also of thought patterns. See Apple, think creative, be creative. See Disney Channel, think honest, be honest. None of that will happen unless the viewer has a goal that the brand activates. So pay attention to your goals and what thoughts brands bring to mind.

In the course of writing this article, I have switched documents three times, ended up typing in the incorrect paragraph 12 times, inadvertently changed programs more than two dozen times, and am sure I will have to convert the document before sending it off to be edited and printed. It makes no difference to me. I am using my iMac and am certain that, without it, this column would never have been completed. It’s enough for me to know that, from now on, I will be more creative than I used to be. Now isn’t that worth something?