Perception is Reality.  Canon recently conducted a social experiment where six photographers were asked to photograph the same man, on the same day, wearing the same clothes.  The only difference was the backstory – for one photographer the subject was a former alcoholic; another, a self-made millionaire; another photographer was told his subject was psychic; and another, a commercial fisherman; the subject had also saved someone’s life, in the eyes of one of the photographer’s; and the final photographer was told the subject was an ex-inmate.  The results were a series of vastly different portraits – of the same man, on the same day, in the same clothes, at the same venue.  The backstory coloured the photographers’ perception of the reality sitting before them.


Another example of perception being reality comes courtesy of the humorous insights at ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’ podcast (from the researchers behind the BBC’s QI).  Here they explained the marketing success of a well-known brand of toothbrushes and the blitz in the customers’ perceptions that the ergonomic, dentist-tool design meant better reach, more effective cleaning and by logical progression, less time at the dentist.  The scientific truth is a little less heartening.  Apparently, the dentist-tool design does give better reach and more effective cleaning, if used by a dentist (or at least someone else).  The angle of a person brushing their own teeth, and of an external party, is apparently, very different.  Scientifically, a straight design without curves provides a better clean.  This hasn’t stopped the sales success of companies pushing ergonomic, dentist-tool designs.  In this case, the perception has become reality – especially in the case of the millions of people world-wide who wield a simplified dentist-tool as part of their morning routine.

Your backstory colours who you are as a person, company, or giant global corporation.  And everyone wants to do business with, or part with their hard-earned cash, with an entity whose brand aligns with their own values.

If your perceived backstory doesn’t represent you – then tweak it.  We live in a busy world – your clients and customers have ‘to do’ lists miles long too; they don’t have the time, energy, or brain space to research you and look deeper into your brand.  So don’t make them.

Deliver it on a plate – preferably at dinnertime, when your client is already seated at the table, and their motivation is high.  That’s what public relations and marketing can do for you.  Get the messaging right; have your brand reflect your essence; and make sure your communications channels are working for you, because, perception is reality.

Link to Cannon social experiment article here.