Reticular Activator

Best Practices Slides-18

Reticular Activator (engaging the brain by including unfamiliar, unusual or problematic in the design process)

The Reticular Activator is the part of the brain that is on the lookout 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for things that are 1) unfamiliar, 2) unusual, or 3) problematic. When your brain detects any of these things on a subconscious level, it sends a message to the conscious side of the brain that says, “Hey, wake up! There’s something you need to pay attention to!”

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  1. Unfamiliar:
    The unexpected always gains the attention of the subconscious mind. The goal, then, is to gain attention of the conscious mind by creating the unexpected. An example would be to put something on an angle. Studies show that 42 degrees is the minimum to engage the mind. On this postcard the photo and testimonial activate the reticular activator and place the mind in “Beta Mode” (see graphic above) and you are engaged. The next goal is to make sure it is relevant so the reader stays engaged.

    Following urls are examples presenting the unfamiliar which gets attention easier that plain, boring letters like: which is nearly unreadable.

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The angle of the testimonial and the Drs photo also fall into this category. It is unusual which gains further attention and helps keep the reader engaged.

this postcard utilized the reticular activator strategy that emphasized "unfamiliarity" by placing the testimonial and photo at an unusual angle. It forces the brain to pay attention!

2. Unusual:
One way to keep attention is to having noticeable differences on the front and back of a card. When you have the exact same information in the same place you create boring and boring gets thrown in the trashcan. For example, the treatment of the offers on the front and back of this card are handled differently, one has extra info on the sides, the other side includes them within the offers,  thus gaining more attention than if they were the same on both sides.

3. Problematic:
The problematic can be accomplished with complex design, incongruent layout or contrast of color This is often a difficult sell for a client that is not willing to push the boundaries of design to accomplish stronger results.


For more information on the reticular activator read the linked document.


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