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Rob Scherzer,  Innovation and Digital Experience Director

If your inbox is also overflowing with MUST-READ article forwards on the next big Deus Ex Machina that’s going to disrupt and save marketing, take a shot (but please don’t take a shot for each email – that would be really irresponsible, and we don’t have enough LawyerBudget for that). Truth is, new media products, “game- changer” SaaS, and whack-a-mole social platforms ship way faster than most teams of ad pros can handle. And while folks will explore and adopt hot new digital experiences at volumes and  speeds impossible to keep up with (and abandon them just as fast), there is a profound truth we’ve known for years but haven’t truly adapted to as an industry: Today’s “audiences” continue to fragment to smaller niches, defying monolithic constructs through specific and varied passion–all at greater momentum and wider spread than ever before.  

In the golden era of TV marketing, brand connection was relatively simple: Choose one of ~25 channels, universally-appealing content, pay to scale = brand lift. Now that there are a near-infinite amount of deeply nuanced channels and ad products, the smartest brands know that resonating isn’t just about being louder; it’s about being more contextual and adaptable in brand approach. Enter cognitive diversity: where leaning into human differences of thought and experience is a creative superpower. Historically a single, specific, repeatable message was considered best practices for success. In today’s broadly-fragmented digital passion economy, flexible brands that can authentically adapt to niche relevancy are finding outsized success.

At DNA, cognitive diversity is a cornerstone of our strategic and creative approach, consistently resulting in work that connects and performs better than expectations without fail. For Tableau’s massive conference, we orchestrated a fully realized musical concert tailored for software engineers, blending art with tech to strike a chord with an analytically-minded and creative audience .  Blending gaming and fashion, we crafted a designer collection of in-game outfits for Taco Time (a Seattle Tex-Mex QSR) on Animal Crossing to captivate Animal Crossing’s vast player base, bridging the gap between culinary fandom and digital creativity, making a memorable and welcome brand impact within a beloved digital landscape. For Swerve (a sugar alternative), we tailored messaging, form factor, and channel to resonate with various lifestyles (parents, keto enthusiasts, etc), ensuring our content speaks to their unique journeys and choices. We win by using strategies that transcend mere demographics and tap into how individuals think and feel. 

Theory to practice is always easier said than done, but here are some tried & true methods to leverage cognitive diversity to resonate with audiences authentically: 

  • Invest in Ethnographic Research
    Survey data is incredibly valuable for uncovering self-stated preferences & attitudes, but not so much the complexities of sentiment and the nuance of the customer’s true voice. Our Social Data Intelligence team typically analyzes millions of categorical conversations to uncover the truth behind the words. 
  • Design Thinking with Diverse Teams
    Workshops and brainstorms, bringing in unexpected members or departments, can lead to groundbreaking ideas. We believe the best ideas can come from anywhere, and we have a process that proves it. 
  • AI Scalability & Scrutiny
    We know AI is fuel not fear. We’ve tamed generative AI with custom models that reference volumes of our previous work and beliefs that give us incredible first drafts of messaging while keeping us honest and calling out any platitudinal thinking. We believe AI will never make better work than us, but it will always get us to better work faster.        

The world is deafeningly loud & most marketing efforts just add to the noise. Our commitment to cognitive diversity isn’t goodwill or an optional strategy. It’s our compass. Human experience and ways of thinking are vast. We have never found value in chasing the market–we lead by forging genuine connections, one cognitively diverse thought at a time.  

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