After all these years, Daniel Pink's book "A Whole New Mind" still has a lot offer when you apply the theory of needing to balance the left brain with the right to stay competitive in today's business world. In today's blog, we'll do a quick recap of Pink's principles, and why whole-minded marketing is imperative in the "Age of the Customer" world we live in. 


Let's start with the basics. First, which hemisphere does what?

  • Right Brain - Puts the pieces together to perceive things as a whole. Particularly specialized in synthesis and seeing the big picture.  Handles emotion and context. 
  • Left Brain - All about the details. Handles logic, sequences, literalness, and analysis. 

Marketing really has evolved so a good balance of both is not only nice to have, but is imperative to surviving in this data-driven world. With that in mind, Pink outlines six principles essential to this survival mode.

The six principles:

  • Design: Not just functional, but also well designed. Today it is economically crucial to creating something that not only works but is aesthetically pleasing and emotionally engaging. (Thanks, Jobs.)
  • Empathy: Not just logic, but also empathy. Logical thinking has to be accompanied by the ability to understand and care for others while forging relationships.
  • Symphony: Not just focus, but also symphony. The industrial age specialized in making a few things in large quantities, where the conceptual age is about putting the pieces together in symphony and flow. 
  • Play: Not just seriousness and corporate speak but also play. The evidence is enormous on the professional and personal benefits of laughter, lightheartedness, games, and humor. 
  • Story: Not just analysis, but also story. The data, while interesting, isn't enough. The essence of persuasion, communication, and self-expression has focused in the form of compelling narrative. 
  • Meaning: Not just accumulation but also meaning. We've all read/watched/heard Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" pointing to exactly this. People desire purpose, self-transcendence, and fulfillment.  

So what does this mean in our high-concept, high-touch environment? And how does it all tie back to marketing?

The answer is simple – it's no longer "either, or" – it's "and". These attributes are not only necessary for good marketing but are fundamental for good business. And good marketing should be a well-balanced mix of all six using a whole-minded approach. 

Whole-minded Marketing

  • Design: It's not about "making things pretty". (Though I wish I had a dollar for every time a marketer rolled their eyes at a colleague who asked them to do so.) It's about simple, clean design that balances utility and significance. Rule of thumb: if it doesn't add value then it shouldn't be there. 
  • Empathy: "If you can't relate, you've sealed your fate." Business is centered on relationships. Empathizing means connecting directly with someone. Whether it's as simple as speaking in first person in your collateral or it's going through an in-depth pain and passion point mapping of your audience – you have to walk in your client's shoes. Talk to them about what they care about. Talk to them the way they talk. And most of all, try to relate, listen, and understand before trying to be understood. 
  • Symphony: Detecting patterns, combining elements, and finding relationships in seemingly unrelated fields is the art of creativity and symphony. When the multiple parts of a program and campaign act together in perfect rhythm we bridge the gap between varying perspectives and creative, holistic thinking in the minds of our consumers. 
  • Play: People don't speak corporate speak and jargon on the weekends with their family and friends. So why would it spark anything inside of them Monday through Friday from 9 to 5? Play is about not taking things too seriously. Remembering that people like to laugh. They like to connect. And most of all - no matter what day of the week or what hour – they're still human. B2B, B2C.... it's all H2H, so keep it light once and a while.
  • Story: Fundamentally, we remember stories better than random facts and displaced information. And the essence of story is context enhanced with emotion. Good marketing craves context. Great marketing thrives with emotion. Storytelling doesn't replace rational thought, however, it serves as a great supplement to remain memorable even after the person has long forgotten the facts and figures. 
  • Meaning: "Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but to see a meaning in life." Though your campaigns or marketing promotions may not fulfill this for anyone, people generally like to connect to something bigger than themselves. When a company has a purpose that transcends the given "to make money" then they generally connect with your brand on a much greater level than what is surfaced with the transactional. 

Bottom-line: combining the six principles can lead to extraordinary business results since they are based on the science of the way people think, rather than marketing theories learned in a lecture hall. People are people. Humans are humans. And whole-minded marketing requires both hemispheres focusing on the details and analytics, but also simplifying the big picture and capitalizing on creativity.  

So thanks, Daniel for a great read that's still very applicable today. Whole-minded marketing is the only way forward as we move into the next era.