Building Disruptive Brands
Published on: June 14 2024

I’ve spent the past couple of decades challenging marketers to fundamentally reappraise their traditional models of consumer decision-making - and instead to adopt more science-led methods for insight generation,  strategy development and creative execution. I've witnessed first-hand the levels of disruption the appliance of neuro-behavioural science can unleash in the workplace! And continue to learn along the way,  more about both the positive and negative impacts of playing with such powerful, influential and  disruptive forces. Forces that can turn established ways of working, ‘known consumer truths’ and ingrained beliefs both upside-down and inside-out. For some, such disruption is not just game-changing in added-value insight-generation, but exhilarating and addictive. But for others, such disruption can simply prove too much to cope with. And therein lies a provocation: how disruptive is disruptive? And to what degree is disruption a good or a bad thing? 

Certainly, disruption seems to have become a goal that every marketer wants to pursue. But what does it really mean to be disruptive? Is it just about grabbing attention, or is there more to it? In this blog post, I'll delve into what I believe is the real essence of disruption in marketing, the challenges it faces, and the role of advanced consumer neuroscience techniques in helping achieve and measure the effectiveness of  genuine, lasting impact of disruptive approaches.

Understanding Disruption


When most marketers talk about disruption, they're often referring to attention-grabbing tactics – bold ads, unusual packaging, or viral social media campaigns. While these can be effective in the short term, I wonder how often  they  really lead to deep, lasting engagement. I call this superficial disruption.


Deep disruption goes beyond mere attention-grabbing. It's about engaging consumers at a more profound level, re-framing / re-shaping perceptions, and influencing behavior in enduring ways. Deep disruption leverages scientific insights into the workings of attention, perception, and decision-making to ensure every interaction with the consumer is implicitly meaningful and explicitly impactful.


The goal of Deep disruption isn't just to turn heads but to drive action. Grabbing attention is merely the first step. The real challenge lies in sustaining that attention, fostering emotional engagement, and guiding the consumer towards the desired behavior. Deep disruption may also help in forcing a consumer reappraisal of a tired brand- something that requires uncovering of the complex, often hidden, deeper-level, non-conscious factors that shape consumer choices.

Neuro-Behavioural research approaches offer these deeper-level capabilities, yet, despite significant advances in cognitive & behavioral sciences (well-publicized in academic literature), traditional marketing models like AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) somehow still remain the go-to frameworks for all but the most progressive marketers. Effective disruption demands a more scientific approach, one that harnesses insights from the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics. 

Challenges in Embracing Disruption 

Despite its associations with innovation, the marketing industry feels surprisingly resistant to change. Many marketing research organizations remain wedded to outmoded but familiar methods and metrics, even when newer approaches promise greater effectiveness. This conservatism often stems from a deep-seated comfort with long-established processes and benchmarks. The fear of the new. 


One of the biggest hurdles to implementing truly disruptive strategies is often senior stakeholders who are more used to relying on traditional metrics and norms, and may be skeptical of new methods that lack extensive historical data. Convincing them to take a leap of faith can be an uphill battle.

Moreover, disruption is inherently uncomfortable. It challenges the status quo and can lead to internal resistance and conflict. Many organizations prefer to play it safe, sticking with the familiar even if it means sacrificing effectiveness.

It’s fascinating to witness just how slowly the Marketing Research industry as a whole has reacted to and embraced science-led techniques. Yet now, it feels like the introduction of AI is creating such extreme disruption,  it is hard to see the industry landscape anything other than totally transformed in the coming few years. And with Ai technology comes a greater interest / foundation in science-driven metrics. 


The Role of Consumer Neuroscience in Disruption

This is where advanced consumer neuroscience techniques come into play. At CloudArmy, we employ cutting-edge methods rooted in neuroscience to gain unprecedented insight into consumer behavior. These techniques go beyond traditional surveys and focus groups, revealing the unconscious drivers of attention, emotion, and action.


By leveraging these insights, we can help brands achieve fundamental disruption that is both effective and sustainable. Our methods are not only more impactful but also more efficient, providing a higher ROI compared to traditional research. Even small gains in effectiveness can translate into significant savings and revenue growth.


Moreover, the perceived barriers to adopting neuroscience techniques, such as cost and complexity, are rapidly diminishing. Modern tools are highly scalable and can be deployed globally, delivering deep insights quickly and efficiently.


Perhaps most excitingly, embracing these new methods liberates creativity. Freed from the shackles of outdated metrics and assumptions, marketers can explore truly innovative strategies that resonate with consumers on a deeper level. This not only leads to more effective marketing but also makes the entire process more engaging and rewarding.

So, what does successful disruption look like in practice? Consider Tony's Chocolonely, a brand that disrupted the chocolate market not just through its playful branding but also its strong emphasis on social responsibility and fair trade. In a category traditionally focused on indulgence, Tony's stood out by aligning with consumers' values and ethics.


Or take Dyson, a company that transformed the mundane world of vacuum cleaners into a showcase for cutting-edge technology and design. By focusing on innovation and premium positioning, Dyson made household appliances desirable and aspirational, commanding a significant price premium.


What these examples illustrate is that true disruption requires a consistent, strategic commitment. It's not about one-off stunts or superficial changes, but about aligning every aspect of the brand – from product development to marketing to customer service – around a coherent, distinctive identity. Disruption needs to be woven into the fabric of the organization, informing every decision and interaction.


Importantly, disruption for its own sake can be risky. Radical changes that are not grounded in a deeper brand strategy can confuse and alienate consumers. The goal is not just to be different, but to be different in a way that meaningfully connects with your audience and delivers genuine value.


In conclusion, disruption in marketing is much more than a buzzword. When executed strategically, it has the power to drive profound, lasting changes in consumer behavior and deliver significant business results. But achieving this requires moving beyond surface-level tactics and embracing a deeper, more scientific understanding of the consumer.

As marketers, we need to challenge our long-held assumptions and be open to new ways of thinking. We must be willing to let go of the familiar and embrace the discomfort that comes with true innovation. Most importantly, we need to ground our strategies in rigorous, scientific insights rather than gut instincts or past precedent.

At CloudArmy, our mission is to help brands navigate this new landscape. Through advanced consumer neuroscience techniques, we can unlock the potential of true disruption, enabling marketers to engage with consumers on a deeper level than ever before.


Disruption is not easy, but it is increasingly essential in a world where attention is scarce and competition is fierce. By harnessing the power of science, we can cut through the noise, shape perceptions, and drive meaningful, enduring change. The question is, are you ready to embrace the discomfort and unleash the potential of true disruption?