Jonathan Knisely: April 2010 Archives

In my last few posts I have brought up the fact that today's technology can push awareness through expedient information dispersal and gorilla marketing. The marketing campaigns that I have mentioned all have an underlying fact; the product, service or idea that they are trying to raise awareness for is in some way interesting or engaging. The question that can then be raised is how can one use the technology of today to raise awareness and change within topics of little to no public interest.

The financial mess that the US has found itself in, has helped to shine some light on just how financially irresponsible many Americans are. An alarmingly small number of people have an understanding of the connection between the financial actions they take and the consequences of those actions, immediate or future. The key to bridging the knowledge gap is by appealing to the basic human reward response (1.)

Cognitive science has been clarifying human motivation for decades, and although psychologists have not agreed on one overarching explanation, all consent that motivation is key to understanding how and why humans act as they do (2.) Humans are hardwired to engage in goal-oriented activities (3.) we get pleasure from it, which in turn drives us to continue and expand the behavior (see addiction (1.)) How does this all relate back to financial awareness, or awareness in general? Well, if you turn learning into a goal-oriented activity, with tangible or artificial rewards, you can play to human's native response and not only engage them, but also encourage them to continue.

I strongly advise everyone to take ten minutes and watch the following video:

While Jesse Schell's vision of future connectivity may be a little extreme, it just points out that the fantastic and relatively unexplored medium of goal-oriented, game-inspired learning, could be applied to every aspect of your life and encourage you to not only further your knowledge, but be a better you.

Any person who has tried to learn or teach themselves something that is intrinsically boring or complicated will tell you that it is typically an unpleasant activity. Ask any person if they would rather read a booklet about home mortgages or play/watch a game/film, I assume they would choose the later. When ever, if ever think-tanks and investors turn their attention from making money, to making a better society, we could possibly see an implementation of Mr. Schell's ideas. After all shouldn't learning be a fun?

1. Bozarth, Micheal A,
2. Alpay, E. "How Far Have Cognitive Theories of Motivation Advanced Our Understanding of the Motivation to Learn?"

I think Matt Wenger raised an interesting question in his blog post, when he asked if marketing green products is a self-defeating activity. With all advertising methods, some energy and materials are wasted, however, if you change your ultimate goal from marketing to awareness, one is able to find a myriad of relatively green means of showing product to the general public.

One means of raising awareness for your product, in an environmentally responsible way is at the point of purchase. With great and unique design a product can differentiate itself and bring attention to its environmental conscious at the same time (1.) Any designer who has walked through a co-op or health food store can attest to the fact that overall packing design for organic foods is poor. Organic foods typically try to play up a folksy quality while blending into the surround products. At a traditional grocery store, where organics make up only a small percentage, these folksy, plain designs make many organic products even more invisible. This is not to say that all organic and earth conscious products have poor designs, and fortunately many companies are starting to warm up to the idea of packaging their products in a dynamic way.


Another approach to raising awareness and creating hype for a product is through guerilla marketing. With a gorilla campaign, the intent is to raise buzz around a product or serve by an unconventional approach which often engages users in a "game," event or situation (2.) Blu Dot Furniture of Minneapolis preformed an excellent example of this style of marketing.

Why is this strategy greener? There is of course waste in materials and some energy use, but overall, most of the energy spent is by interested parties who involve themselves in the "game." After some initial users experience the guerilla marketing campaign, it is likely to fly around the web being featured or mentioned in numerous blogs and websites. Finally, if your gorilla marking campaign is successful and unique, rational news stations and news sources may cover it, extending the awareness to a group that never actually interacted with the campaign (3.)

These two means of information dispersal are relatively cheap in both resources and energy compared to the billboards, commercials, and retail design used by some to market their "green" products. I hope that this trend towards environmentally conscious living continues and expands, but to do so it needs to find success and profitability now. The balance between ethics and consumption is a tricky scenario, and only time will tell if people are willing to make sacrifices to see its success.

1. Lee, Presten D, Specialization: a designer's key to success in the future,

2. Miriam Webster Dictionary

3. Kim, Amy Jo, Design Strategies of Successful Communities

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Jonathan Knisely in April 2010.

Jonathan Knisely: March 2010 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.