Perception is reality

Want to hear something scary? Perception is reality.

All of my life I’ve fought against the idea that my personal appearance matters. I think I must have absorbed the Disney-like view that ‘It’s what’s on the inside that matters’ from a very early age.

This will come as no surprise to people who know me and my clothes shopping habits. Why buy a nice tee-shirt when the work wear outlet on the industrial estate has a rail full of not-so-nice ones for a fraction of the price!

But I’ve noticed something.

On the rare days I choose to wear a suit - or even a decent shirt - when I go into my local supermarket the old ladies aren’t quite so quick to barge me out of the way, and the check out staff border on the deferential as I flash my points card. It REALLY makes a difference.

Now, I go in there literally every day – so it’s not as if they don’t know me – and that is what makes the transformation in their behaviour so remarkable…

I was reminded of the powerful reactions you can create when Graham and Bridget decided to get gory make-up for Halloween. They looked great. Graham popped to the shops for his lunch – still in full zombie mode – and frightened the life out of a small child sitting in a parked car. The kid was petrified, and the more Graham tried to reassure him (and his mother, who thought it was hilarious) the more the child cowered behind his car window. When Graham told us about it I was as surprised as I get when I wear the suit.

Of course, with my professional’s hat on it comes as no surprise at all.

I know how powerful it is to present a brand the right way, and how much you can change an audience’s perceptions about an organisation - just by the way you craft the message, and the production elements you choose to deliver it. Do you want to make people think your business is serious, approachable, light-hearted, trustworthy, accessible etc etc – because you can.

The fact is, you can use radio advertising to change people’s minds about you and your business – and when people perceive you differently, it’s usually reflected in their behaviour. My advice is, choose a creative team that cares how you want to be perceived, and has the skill and flair to make it happen. (That’s us btw – the ones in tee shirts)

Paul Carter