What makes a memory vivid?

Posted on Jul 13, 2011

What do really vivid memories have in common?

You know, the ones where “I remember every detail,” “time seemed to slow down,” “it’s like it happened yesterday”?

The ones where “we won the state on a buzzer-beater,” “Kate and William kissed on the balcony,” “our car got hit and we flipped over into the ditch,” “Kermit rides a bicycle!” or, you know, that skinny-dipping after the prom thing.

Whether it happened to you personally or vicariously, the common element is the brain chemical epinephrin, also known as adrenaline. That instant of laughter or sorrow or conflict or danger, that fight-or-flight moment, stimulated the flow of this powerful neurotransmitter, which imprinted the sensations.

The lesson for your brand? Every communication is a chance to evoke conflict, or danger, or humor, or some other emotion to make the juices flow. Don’t be merely rational. It’s the difference between “remember when your pants fell down?” and “remember what you had for breakfast last Thursday?”

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5 Comments

  1. Ramesh Kaul
    July 13, 2011

    Absolutely correct and a must for every communication. But not necessarily always and in each piece of communication just for the sake of attempting so, as most communications seem to be doing these days. Even a simple headline can be remembered for a life time. Where there is only emotion and its repeated use evoking confidence.

    “Carlsberg. Probably the best beer in the world” !

    Reply
  2. Bill McClain
    July 14, 2011

    To understand vivid memories, and whether others are impacted in the same ways, it is necessary to understand the concept of memories and time in different cultures. A brilliant book on the subject is “A Geography of Time” by Robert Levine.

    Branding is an application of the science of the memory. Understand memory and new horizons open up for branding in this global economy.

    Reply
  3. Bob
    July 14, 2011

    I looked up the book on Amazon, and ordered it. Sounds meaningful.

    Reply
  4. Brand activation
    July 20, 2011

    Correct me if I am wrong, but this works best during brand strategy creation, brand communication campaigns and brand activation initiatives. Somethings we might know intellectually but when someone actually puts it in simple and clear language does it then make to much common sense. I quote from this short piece; “Every communication is a chance to evoke conflict, or danger, or humor, or some other emotion to make the juices flow”

    Absolutely true…!!!

    Reply
  5. Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem
    July 20, 2011

    When we are emotionally aroused, intellectually engaged, physically impacted we are touched at a deep level and remember vividly.

    Reply

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