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Wordplay via designA crucial part of being a designer or marketer is selling your concepts. In design, language is sometimes overlooked as a key contributor to experiences. But research in neuroscience and psychology shows that certain words in campaign copy can influence and affect the viewer’s feeling on the content. With that knowledge, we put together six wordplay tips to keep in mind the next time you're crafting content to move your audience to action.Metaphors are magicDesigners employ metaphors by using line, shape and color to create experiences, which work to convey certain feelings, tones, and messages in a novel way. Neuroimaging has shown that the brain responds in an expanded capacity when encountering the usage of metaphors in copy; they make the material more tangible, exciting and memorable for the reader. In content, the most effective copy appeals to audiences’ entire sensory spectrum. Metaphors that are visual, auditory, kinesthetic and olfactory engage areas of the brain that control our senses. Phrases like “dawned on me”, “music to my ears”, “soft-hearted” and “dirty, rotten scoundrel” create a richer, more memorable experience for the reader. Sensory evoking phrases further have the capability of creating novel experiences for the reader allowing dopamine to be released from the brain while evoking happiness and harmony for the reader.  Metaphors are magic We’re all narcissistsLet’s face it: we all like to feel special.  Research indicates that individuals have an automatic and subconscious bias towards self-related stimuli. For example, you inherently perk up when you hear your name. A phenomenon called “cocktail party effect” takes over, and where you tune everything else out except for what relates directly to you. Researchers at the University of Connecticut discovered that information related to the self is better recalled in memory, justifying the common notion that individuals are likely to remember what others say about them. You can use this universal “bias” as a potential secret weapon to persuade audiences on your next project. When speaking directly to an audience, use the pronoun ‘you.’ The pronoun acts as a replacement for an individual’s first name and acknowledges their identity without sounding canned. President Obama’s presidential fundraising campaign even employed this technique in their email subject lines to donors. One of the most successful subject lines stated, “If you believe in what we’re doing…” and garnered a hefty $911,806 in donations.  Repetition, repetition, repetitionSounding like a broken record, repeating yourself, and reiterating are some of the most persuasive tactics out there, yet they often remain unused because they seem too obvious. To break it down psychologically, we perceive and believe repeated statements as truer than new ones. This is mainly because repetition increases familiarity and we naturally associate truth and positivity with things that are familiar or easy to understand. It’s called the illusion of truth effect. Parents use this to effectively and subconsciously ingrain certain values in children. So, follow suit and incorporate it in your copy to inspire behaviors in consumers and users. But be sure to mind the quantity of your wording. According to Pablo Brinol’s work, 3-5 message repetitions in a marketing campaign are the sweet spot; the more subtle the messages are the better. Craft a few variations of the same message and sprinkle them throughout the piece since research has shown that familiarity promotes liking but over-familiarity incites contempt.  Geico is a good example of a well-known brand already employing this tactic. Many of the insurance company’s commercials center around the same slogan: ‘15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance’, but have a variety of humorous scenes to spread them out and prevent viewer fatigue.  Rock those RhymesResearch has long shown that alliteration and rhyming both facilitate learning and memory. It's no surprise then that many memorization techniques have cropped up over the years, such as the infamous phrase, “I before E except after C.” Rhymes and alliteration can also help audiences recall brands and products. There’s enormous power there. How could anyone forget: L’eggo my eggo! The human brain has a tendency to believe in phrases that rhyme, according to psychologist Matthew McGlone, who coined this notion as the Rhyme as Reason effect. Compare the phrases “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “eating apples can keep you healthy and prevent visits to the doctor.” Which one makes you want to eat an apple?  Copy influences behavior Because I said soThe word ’because’ is a conjunction that packs an unexpected punch. Providing a ‘reason why’ in conversation or copy has been shown to effectively influence behavior. Ellen Langer, a Harvard University psychologist, first observed this phenomenon in 1977 when her renowned copy machine experiment demonstrated how a single word could shape human behavior. Langer instructed her research team to approach individuals in line for a copier and ask one of the following questions related to cutting the line: A. "Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?" B. "Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?" C. "Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I'm in a rush?" Of the 15 people asked question A, 9 allowed the experimenter to go ahead; Question B, 14 allowed the experimenter to go ahead. Of the 16 people asked Question C, 15 allowed the experimenter to go ahead. Langer concluded that the use of the word ‘because’ made roughly a 20% increase in compliance. Furthermore, any reason given, even a nonsensical one such as, ‘because I have to make copies’ was as compelling as providing a legitimate reason for action. What does this teach us? When you’re trying to sell readers on an exciting point you just made, state why. Even when toying with headlines, it doesn’t hurt to start with ‘why’. After all, the reader is wondering ‘why should I care?’ Give them the answer. Bottom line; always say why, even if your reasoning isn’t bulletproof, because your argument or statement will be that much more compelling for it.  Make unexpected movesSurprise and novelty are like candy to the brain. Unexpected copy grabs our attention by making us laugh and take a second glance at the text. Take Betty Crocker’s tagline: “Bake someone happy.” The tagline is clearly a play on the famous phrase “make someone happy,” but this clever twist leaves us with a warm and comforting feeling –and hungry for cake, too. Research from the Welcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London reports the hippocampus as being particularly adept at mismatch detection, or detecting differences between past and present experiences. When an unexpected discrepancy occurs, we are surprised. In the case of a ‘feel-good’ tagline, our pleasure is intensified. Some other great alternatives to common phrases are Cadbury Creme Egg’s slogan “Gooing for Gold” or Taco Bell’s ‘Think Outside the Bun.” Try your hand at prompting mismatch detection to leave your audiences smiling. As we've seen, using specific key words, repetition, metaphor, rhyme and surprise can not only change the perception of experiences, but also make the text or campaign more potent and memorable. Word play is an opportunity for marketers and designers to have more fun with copy, and has proven time and again its contribution to shaping audience experiences. And because all of these techniques’ effectiveness is backed by neuroscience and psychology, the case for using them is that much stronger.