Can Custom Clothing Make Consumers Remember Your Business Fondly?

Memory Image source: Newscientist.com

Memory is a funny thing. Some events get burned into your mind and become a part of you forever. Other events get kind of fuzzy and become subject to interpretation. As much as we hate to admit it sometimes, our memories aren't quite as infallible as we would like them to be. In fact, our memories are so unreliable that shrewd business owners can cause customers to forget bad experiences and "re-remember" them as good experiences.  

Jacquie Pickrell and Elizabeth Loftus, two memory researchers at the University of Washington, found that companies can easily manipulate customers to fundamentally change memories or create new memories from scratch. The researchers took people who had been to Disney World a long time ago and then showed the participants fake Disney advertisements of excited kids hanging out with Bugs Bunny. After seeing the ad, about one-third of the participants said that they remembered meeting Bugs Bunny during their visit to Disney World.  

The problem? Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros character and has never been part of the Disney franchise. The researchers simply suggested that the participants should have remembered meeting Bugs Bunny, and the participants unconsciously invented the new memory (if you can call that a memory).   [caption id="attachment_2416" align="aligncenter" width="327"]

Child with Bugs Bunny Image source: Blog.lib.umn.edu

Pickrell said, "It's not only people who go to a therapist who might implant a false memory or those who witness an accident and whose memory can be distorted who can have a false memory. Memory is very vulnerable and malleable. People are not always aware of the choices they make. This study shows the power of subtle association changes on memory."   What's shocking about this study is just how easy it is to manipulate memory. During the study, they showed one-quarter of the participants a picture ad of Bugs Bunny, and they showed another group the picture and an article that mentioned Bugs Bunny. Thirty percent of people in the first group reported remembering an encounter with Bugs Bunny, while 40 percent of the second group said they remembered the encounter. Changing the memories of people is a bit like advertising -- the more advertisements you show customers, the more easily you can change their memories.  

This has major implications for business owners who are trying to establish a strong brand identity. Based on this research, it should be possible to implant memories of a company where no memories exist. Retro is fashionable nowadays, so a company with a long legacy and deep roots might appear more attractive than a new company to customers.   1985 Retro Fashion Image source: Speckyboy.com  

Depending on the type of business that you own, custom clothing can help you set up a unique corporate identity. For example, let's suppose that you own a restaurant that touts good ol'-fashioned hamburgers. If you give your restaurant rustic decor and give your employees appropriately old-fashioned custom uniforms, then that should fundamentally alter customers' perceptions of your business. They'll probably overlook the fact that your business is only a few years old and "remember" that the restaurant has always been a solid pillar of the local community.  

Alternatively, you could use custom clothing to completely rebrand your company. If your business is struggling and it needs a fresh start, you should be able to reinvent your business with the right marketing and decor. Before long, the community may very well forget about your company's past and "remember" your company based on its new image.   So, don't be demoralized by a bad corporate history. Memory isn't exactly set in stone, so shrewd marketing can help you revolutionize your business with a new identity, with customers inventing new memories along the way.

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