Photos left to right: Darko Antic, Nora Camps, Joseph Wright

The Globe and Mail [Right-brain ideas in a left-brain world, Wednesday June 6, 2012] tells how having an artist on your team changes the dynamic for deeper outcomes. Graphic designers, fine artists and students of OCAD have known this for years because they do what Roger Martin, Dean of ROTMAN School of Management calls Integrative Thinking. Take apart an opportunity, assess all aspects, self-critique design concepts and entertain ideas that could be way outside the comfort zone.

To affect thinking, use simple terms, say precisely what you mean and BELIEVE what you say.

DUO.CA exists in a left-brain world by right-brain thinking - always has. For the last two years, we have incorporated an almost mystical method of evaluating design and writing. We have been focused on the neuroscience of engagement. What causes people to act, or not to act?

Assess your own writing for meaning, truth and confidence.

Do your site visitors find the information on your site believable, do they want to believe yet need more supporting information, or do they simply not believe what they see and read? You might wonder how you can measure the content of your web site to evaluate effectiveness. DUO.CA uses a predictive intelligence tool designed by Joseph Carrabis, [Joseph blends studies of physics, mathematics, linguistics, psychology, and anthropology.] Joseph has programmed a computer to analyze specific aspects of your site to determine what is working and what is not working. DUO.CA has requested a combination of these tools to determine how the written word, how the design of a web page and how certain images affect thinking.

The tool uses algorithms and churns through sample data to determine, in the case of written text, what type of person wrote the text and the type that will most likely respond to it. How confident was the author with what they were writing and how likely would someone be to act because of the text or the design? We will focus here on the text - the writing contained on your web site. 

Consider the delivery of your message.

Think about how your messages are written. Success is when your writing is understood, when the syntax is familiar and trusted and when your writing style creates confidence in your offer and your company.

Language research performed over the past forty years has established that the more simple and precise word constructs are, the more readers are encouraged to interact with you in an increasingly positive way. Readers hold more words in their working memory and have a more immediate understanding of your meaning when the words are short and are written to a grade 6 level. Is your current web site written to a grade 6 level? Not likely. In order to simplify writing, the writer must have a complete understanding of the subject matter and be confident in what they are saying. How do you measure up so far?

DUO.CA uses the NextStage Cognitos Tool to gauge writing in our clients' existing site and as we develop new writing, we test and hone as we go, using the tool to ensure the results meet the criteria of the known audience. The Cognitos Tool evaluates writing against seven criteria. The criteria include:

1. the type/characteristics/attitude of person who wrote the text
2. a confidence gauge
3. a blue sky meter
4. an action meter
5. understandable by age/education meter
6. a genderization gauge
7. viral capacity gauge

By way of example, here are the results from inputting 1,000 words from Winston Churchill's essay through the Cognitos Tool. We know that Churchill had difficulties learning and lacked ambition in school, yet he was an accomplished artist and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Churchill became an accomplished speaker and he knew that it was the power of his words that would inspire people to join the good fight and win the war. The essay starts, "Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people."

The Cognitos Tool tells us:

1. The writer was most likely had a V5 Rich Persona
This information is designed to appeal most strongly to people who:

  • pay close attention to what they see
  • are attracted to charts and graphs
  • learn by observation
  • tend to keep their own counsel although they will listen to others
  • are swayed by statements and/or arguments of what is going wrong right now
  • tend to be impatient
  • lose interest in anything that requires any kind of time investment
  • think things through before making a decision
  • base decisions on what might happen right now rather than what might happen later on
  • make a final decision by avoiding problems or uncomfortable situations
  • make decisions based on information they can see or that's "right in front of them" during the decision process
  • don't pay much attention to what's happened in the past except as a conversation point
  • can be swayed by arguments or statements that make them uncomfortable at a very deep level
  • are more likely to believe something negative rather than something positive

2. So according to the tool, Churchill had NO confidence in what he had written. Confidence -- 96 (understandable given the world situation at the time).

3. The tool computes in modern languages and Churchill wrote in English from 60+years ago. The tool suggest between 7 - 15% Blue Sky.

4. This material will most likely cause action in people 35-44 years old.

5. This material is understandable by people from ages 5-9 to 15-19.

6. The content is male-dominant.

7. Viral had a completely different meaning 60+ years ago - however the essay would have caused secondary conversations.

Here is the entire peroration:

"Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. In the days of Napoleon, of which I was speaking just now, the same wind which would have carried his transports across the Channel might have driven away the blockading fleet. There was always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many Continental tyrants. Many are the tales that are told. We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous manoeuvre. I think that no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a searching, but at the same time, I hope, with a steady eye. We must never forget the solid assurances of sea power and those which belong to air power if it can be locally exercised.

"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government — every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old." 
Listen to Winston Churchill's 1942 famous speech in the USA

You'll note that it falls in the range of your 6th grade reading level. The variance from 5-19 years old is because Churchill was using an English that most people wouldn't use today, although his words are still emotionally stirring to those he wanted to influence (35-44 year olds).

We are constantly amazed by the reports generated by the Cognitos Tool.

Using the tool has informed our design, our writing and it has provided a new surface upon which we can throw our words and design to gauge how well it will focus the consumer's attention.  Now imagine this: what if your had people throughout your organization using this tool to measure the effectiveness, the consistent voice, syntax and genderization of the words you use to reach out to your audience?

If you want to assess the words you use on your web site and the configuration of your site's graphic components and images, we can employ the Cognitos Tool. Contact us with the specifics of your request and we'll reply with a quote and a timeframe.

The neuroscience of engagement

Choose from:

  1. I want to run 1,000 words of text through the Cognitos Tool. What would that cost?
  2. I want to apply the tool to my web site. I want to know how the design of my site is working/not work. What would that cost?
  3. "I couldn't possibly run this tool on our writing or our site design –– what if the tool reported we were completely off base –– am i prepared to meet those consequences and rethink or rework our methods?" Here is a less daunting option: DUO will run the tool on your writing and give suggestions for improvement.

The Cognitos Tool provides surprising, sometimes devastating, results. From our own experience, this is a method of shaking up an organization, doing away with thinking that simply doesn't deliver results, and engaging the minds within your organization, (the creative team, the management team and whoever else you want to include) in a rethink towards a new method of addressing your consumer and their virtual mind. 

I imagine that you are now thinking, "This sounds interesting and unsettling."  And you would be right.
Nora Camps
DUO Strategy and Design Inc.



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