Physical objects speak to people in an intuitive language that triggers an innate human response to conflate physical sensation with emotional value, what we call the HIFIHIF (How It Feels Is How It Feels) Heuristic.
This is a non-cognitive evaluation your brain makes immediately you encounter the object — i.e. it's not something you think about — part of a primitive response system that enabled our ancestors to evaluate unfamiliar things and situations as possible threats or opportunities. Since it's intuitive and immediate, it's a judgement we make before any thought process (e.g. reading any words) and thus can influence or prime an intellectual judgement.
A good example is junk mail and door drops. We have intuitively decided it's junk the moment we see it on the doormat and don't need to read it to decide it's junk — our intuition takes one look at the flimsy paper and cheap production qualities and we decide to throw it directly in the bin.
However powerful as this mechanism is, since it's non-logical, it's very hard to quantify and thus attribute a value to.
But, we have developed a methodology, based on Baudrillard's System Of Object that assesses a physical object against five different criteria: functionality, intrinsic value, symbolic value, perceived value and durability (keepability).
Though Baudrillard's original system applied to any physical object, we are concerned principally with printed objects. Within this application, the metric arrives at an overall score that ranges from a low negative score to a high positive score. From there we assign each item into one of three groups:
a) Negative score (less than 0)
b) Low positive score (0 - 2)
c) High positive score (2 +)
Negative scores – anything with a negative score has a negative communication, and is either hurting the brand (unless your brand values include being perceived as cheap, e.g. a Pound Shop) or is at the least, is a waste of money. Our recommendation is therefore to stop producing it.
Low positive scores — these have mixed messages and may not be actually hurting the brand, but probably aren't adding much to it either. The specifics of the score will reveal which elements can be improved upon to increase their intuitive / communicative value (raise their score). Our recommendation would be to improve them (and we'll tell you how).
High positive scores — these items are working well; they have strong intuitive communication values and will engage recipients well on first encounter. Our recommendation is to leave these as they are.
The ideal application for this analysis is to review all the physical (printed) collateral across a wide range of items and depending on the nature of the business, the end-result is usually a strong concentration of items with negative and low positive scores.
Thus, our recommendations will include the cessation of production of a number of items and the reallocation of resources to others. However, given the attitude towards printed material — to make it as cheap as possible — our recommendations usually result in a significant monetary saving on top of the overall objective of improving the quality of the communications.
So, we can help you tell your story better and save you money.