On returning home to from the Trojan War, the legendary Greek hero Odysseus was forced to sail past the Sirens.
This group of beautiful maidens were renowned for beguiling sailors with their angelic voices, inducing such delirium that their victims succumb and dash their vessels against the rocks. However, Odysseus had been warned about the Sirens and had consulted his behavioural insights team on how best to respond.
The future of sustainability is design, not communication. When it comes to building brands and driving change, effective communication is a prerequisite. Unsurprisingly then, communications are often the first port of call when it comes to the unique challenges and opportunities that sustainability represents for today’s brands.
However, emerging cultural, economic and technological trends related to sustainability are forcing brands to think differently about the role of communications in their wider brand ecosystem. As is so often the case, when the game is changing this quickly, a more effective solution requires a redefinition of the problem.
Large-scale surveys are useful but if we are serious about changing behaviours, we must use every tool to understand human complexity.
Recent advances in behavioural economics, cognitive neuroscience, network theory and social psychology more generally have overturned our common sense understanding of human behaviour. The rational, autonomous, self-aware agent acting in his own self-interest according to static preferences has faded as we realise that behaviour is largely irrational, unconscious and driven by external contexts. Ladies and gentleman, Homo economicus has left the building.