Uncovering the power of wow

How do you really create value to wow if time and attention has become our most precious commodity?

 

Did that cat just bark? It can’t have… except it did. There’s a reason I couldn’t stop talking about the video for weeks and that’s because upon googling, I found out it was real. Seriously, YouTube it right now. There’s a cat and it barks.

It fascinated me, it confused me and it kept me interested long after I had seen it. In essence, it wowed me.

This wow, this feeling I felt with the barking cat, is a real sweet spot for modern brands. But if it were easy create, someone would have bottled it by now… surely?

At Happen, sticky innovation is what gets us up in the morning. It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s bloody brilliant. The fundamentals of innovation are our bread and butter but in the essence of never settling, we wanted to study the finer details of exponential impact for products and services.

So, we set about decoding what makes things stick. In this day and age, what is needed to hold on to people’s ever shortening attention spans? How do you really create value to wow if time and attention has become our most precious commodity?

To find out we brought together an eclectic group of creatives who specialise in creating wows: artists, DJs, game designers, mixologists, immersive theatre performers, gastrophysicists and dove into their different Worlds. We looked to understand how they approach the challenge of capturing and, more importantly, keeping people’s attention.

"Giving the answer never held anyone’s attention – it can ruin the surprise. We like to solve things for ourselves, leading our imagination and calling for involvement to understand what is truly going on."

Charlotte Strothert, Happen

Tying their expertise together with our principles for innovation, we saw a story begin to thread in the fundamentals needed to ensure a wow:

Throw out the bait, lure people in.

Coming back to that barking cat, what makes it so powerful is that it stops you in your tracks with its unexpectedness. It interrupts patterns – the key to grabbing attention.

The reason Cirque du Soleil is a worldwide wow, is because it takes something awe-inspiring and delivers something beautiful.

Despite our reduced attention spans, we are visual beings and pure intrigue is not to be underestimated!

Adult imagination is dying, bring back the whys!

PunchDrunk design intensely captivating immersive theatre productions, each person throws themselves into the moment, experiencing it in their own way.

The magic of a movie or a haunted house is the predictable unpredictability. People are captivated by a hint of something interesting, something where excitement can be forged with very few details. It will hook people in and keep them interested.

Giving the answer never held anyone’s attention – it can ruin the surprise. We like to solve things for ourselves, leading our imagination and calling for involvement to understand what is truly going on.

The stickiest treats are always shared.

Find a balance between anticipation and curiosity. The latest Nike campaign, Nothing Beats a Londoner, takes this idea and runs with it to wonderful effects. In the first ten days of its release, the ad had been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube alone.

Be playful.

A wow after all should make people feel good. Have fun with it and in turn, people will enjoy it. Just like your funny friend, it helps people stick around a little longer to see what’s next.

Creating a wow is a tough challenge to approach, and even tougher to scale, but at Happen, we’re helping our clients forge the future of wow, hacking the next generation of ideas to invent something powerful with sticking power. It doesn’t have to be huge, but it must provoke something that makes people pause for thought and want to take a closer look.

Our advice? Have fun with it and build stories around concepts that have meaning, longevity and style.

Charlotte Strothert, Client Director Happen