The magic formula for the perfect marketing strategy probably doesn't exist, and if it does it certainly isn't a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. Despite the lacking existence of a right answer for every marketing strategy out there, there are some pretty powerful fundamentals we can almost always rely on to ensure an impactful marketing campaign. The one I want to explore here? Memories.

The Experiencing Self and The Remembering Self

First dubbed by the Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman, The Experiencing Self and The Remembering Self are two sides of an operating system in the brain, a system of judgement and behaviour.

Kahneman says that we experience life in two separate ways. The Experiencing Self is the part of us that truly experiences the moment as it unfolds. The Remembering Self is the part of your brain that decides how you are going to perceive a current event in the future and how you are going to remember it.

While both The Experiencing Self and The Remembering Self are constantly at work as we go about our daily lives, it seems The Remembering Self is the one of more importance. Kahneman gives us a scenario: a holiday, for a week, in your ideal paradise. You have fun, you enjoy every second of it, you spend time with the people you love and you even tick off a few things on your bucket list. However, when you get home you have no memory of it, it’s lost, no recollection what so ever... not even photographs. Would you choose the same holiday? Would you bother going at all?

Kahneman’s point? We do things to remember them. As humans we want to create good memories. This could be a contributing factor as to why Instagram has become so popular. We take photographs in the moment, in our Experiencing Self, in anticipation of our Remembering Self. We take photos of a meal at a quirky restaurant or of our other half posing majestically on a beach as anticipated memories. We design memories as the experience happens, before we have even allowed enough time to prelude for an experience to become a memory. Professor Kahneman calls this the Instagram Generation: those who anticipate memories in the present moment.

Memories are powerful, we live for memories, memories are a reminder of a sense of achievement. Living in the moment is important, it enables you to enjoy the richness of everyday life, it allows you to be present in conversations and the constant happenings that surround you. However, the argument is it’s the memories that last; they are what we have left when a holiday is over, or when a loved one dies.

Memories are so important, important enough that we long for them, anticipating them before they even naturally occur. Knowing this, how can we as marketers tap into the power of memories to enhance our marketing strategies?

Brands Who Have Done It Well 

Targeting fond memories in marketing isn’t a new idea; several brands have done a brilliant job of harnessing The Remembering Self and memory design to sell their service or product.

The Ritz Carlton, #RCMemories

The Ritz Carlton leverage memories in their current online campaign #RCmemories. #RCmemories is a user generated campaign in which The Ritz Carlton showcase their guest’s memories from around the world. The Ritz Carlton understand that a main reason people travel and adventure is to create memories; this is an important lesson for all hospitality brands. Having something to look back on, reflect upon and reminisce about is just as important as enjoying a holiday in the moment.

Taking note and making use of The Experiencing Self and The Remembering Self as a hospitality company is a great way to connect with you audience. The #RCMemories campaign pushes current guests to design their own memories while asking previous guests to share and reflect on theirs. The campaign demonstrates just how important it is for people to gather and share memories; after all it’s memories that last once the plane has landed.

Laura Ashley, Laura Ashley Memories

In 2013 Laura Ashley launched a social media campaign that asked people to share their Laura Ashley memories. Hundreds of people sent in old photographs that summed up wonderful life events such as wedding days and christenings. Each photo showed something personal and each featured a Laura Ashley product. Laura Ashley managed to make themselves a central part of individual memories, and simultaneously they became associated with other people’s happiness. By encouraging people to reflect upon memories Laura Ashley was able evoke emotion and truly connect with their customers.

Valkswagen, #YourVW

VW are another brand to have launched a user generated social media campaign. Coining #YourVW, Volkswagen used the power of nostalgia to encourage people to send in their VW memories. Hundreds of wonderfully vintage photographs demonstrated just how much we as humans cherish memories, how much they mean to us when the present moment has passed. People shared happy memories in their old VW: vintage car boots, summer drives along the beach, a first kiss in the passenger seat. This campaign encouraged people to look back on the past and to remember things in a positive light. VW managed to place themselves in the midst of the remembering self; they positioned themselves and their cars at the heart of deep rooted and meaningful memories.

Explore more from the #YourVW campaign here: http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/about-us/company-information/your-cherished-memories   

Mad Men, The Carousel

Fictional it may be, but Don Draper used the power of memories perfectly in his Kodak Carousel pitch in that famous Mad Men episode. Memories are potent, deep and often unforgettable. ‘Nostalgia takes us to a place we ache to go again’, it seems we need memories to make our lives worthwhile.

Memories, they mean a lot to us. Once our kids have grown old and our parents frail, all we have left of the past is memories. As a brand, tapping into this powerful part of the psyche and enabling ourselves to be present in memories can be incredibly powerful.

So, you might not have found the exact magic formula for the unbreakable marketing strategy, but by understanding the strength of memories and The Remembering Self you can make a damn good start.