Geo Week News

February 25, 2014

Branding Eccentricity

As scientifically based as all of this 3D imaging stuff is, I often find myself referring to the art involved in every step of the process. From industrial design to point cloud processing, we all make artistic choices every step of the way. When you pair this with the reality that much of what we do cannot be quantifiably checked without repeating the entire project, you start to see how a client’s expectations and perception of the service provider (regardless of what “service” you are providing) become important marketing considerations.

With this in mind, I came across some newly published research in the European Journal of Social Psychology about the connection between the perception of an artist and the perceived value of their work.

In this study, researchers from the University of Southampton and the University of Limerick (talk about preconceptions coloring one’s view … ) presented art to subjects. Some were then presented with information about the artist that made them seem “normal or conventional” while others received information that made the artist seem eccentric. Those that perceived the artist as being more eccentric perceived the art as possessing a higher value or of being higher in quality. In one of the experiments they created a fictitious artist and provided the participants with an image of the artist as they viewed his work. Half were given an image that showed an ordinary male in his 20’s while the other showed a male in his 20’s that had not shaved in several days with a strange haircut of “half-long hair combed over one side of his head.” Those receiving the more eccentric-looking image rated the same works more favorably than those that viewed the more conventionally dressed man.

There were a couple of caveats that became evident in the study. The art had to be somewhat unconventional for the effect to be noticeable, and the eccentricity had to seem sincere or “authentic.”

When I viewed our industry through this lens I discovered that I too had a soft spot for the more eccentric among us. I had previously thought that it was simply a matter of personal taste, but the reality is that it works as branding, as well. Whether it’s always wearing mixed patterns in a shirt/tie/pocket square/socks (I’m looking at you Gregg Shapiro!) or dressing like Porter Waggoner every time you’re not in a suit (guilty as charged) the point is to stand out – authentically.

The irony, of course, is that it has to be eccentric in a way that conforms to a stereotype. Maybe it’s the socially awkward nerd, or some regional or country specific stereotype that best suits your brand. It may seem silly, but ignoring it is like ignoring body language. Everyone around you is taking it in either consciously or subconsciously, so you might as well use it to your advantage. Being in Nashville, I’ve decided I have some work to do before the SPAR conference. I’m off to order the new company shirts and see about getting a new company truck

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