The Law of the Instrument is a principle that states that people tend to use familiar tools or strategies, even if they may not be the most effective. In other words, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. However, this principle can be used to your advantage in marketing, sales, branding, design, and advertising.
Here are some ways to leverage the Law of Instrument to boost your business,
1. Stick to a proven formula
If you have a marketing campaign that has worked well for you in the past, consider sticking with it. Consumers often respond positively to familiar tactics, even if they’ve seen them before. For example, if your email marketing campaign has consistently generated high click-through rates, keep using that formula. When you do need to change things up, make small tweaks rather than overhauling the entire campaign.
Example: McDonald’s is known for their consistent branding and messaging. Their “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign has been around since 2003 and is still going strong. They’ve made small tweaks over the years, but the core message has remained the same.
2. Choose the Right Social Media Platform
With so many social media platforms available, it can be tempting to try to maintain a presence on all of them. However, this can lead to spreading yourself too thin and not making an impact on any of them. Instead, use the Law of Instrument to choose the platform(s) that are best suited for your business and your audience. For example, if your business is primarily visual, Instagram or Pinterest may be the best choices, while LinkedIn may be a better option if you are targeting a professional audience.
Example: A small jewelry business decides to use Instagram as their primary social media platform because they can easily showcase their products through high-quality photos and videos. They also use Instagram Stories to offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of their business and build a personal connection with their audience.
3. Choose the Right Font
Fonts can have a big impact on how your brand is perceived. Use the Law of Instrument to choose the right font(s) for your brand and your message. For example, a classic serif font may be more appropriate for a brand targeting a more mature audience, while a playful sans-serif font may be better for a brand targeting a younger audience.
Example: A startup that specializes in creating eco-friendly home products uses a modern, minimalist sans-serif font to reflect their commitment to sustainability and innovation.
4. Choose the right color scheme
Choosing the right color scheme for your branding and design is essential to creating a strong and memorable brand identity. Color can have a powerful impact on emotions and can influence how people perceive your brand.
Example: Blue is often associated with trust, reliability, and security. This is why many financial institutions and banks use blue in their branding. On the other hand, red is often associated with passion, excitement, and urgency, which is why it’s a popular choice for brands in the food and beverage industry.
Another example is the color green, which is often associated with nature, health, and wellness. This is why many health and wellness brands use green in their branding, such as Whole Foods or The Body Shop.
5. Choose the right music
Choosing the right music for your audio content, such as ads or videos, can have a powerful impact on how people perceive your brand. Music can evoke emotions and create a more immersive brand experience.
Example: The use of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the Wayne’s World movie helped to elevate the scene and create a more memorable and enjoyable experience for viewers.
6. Use familiar imagery
Images and symbols can be powerful marketing tools. People often respond positively to images that they’re familiar with. In this case, the tool is the familiar imagery, and it can shape consumers’ perceptions of a brand or product, influencing their purchasing behavior.
Example: If you’re selling a product related to home-cooking, using images of a cozy kitchen or a family gathered around a dinner table can create feelings of warmth and comfort, making consumers more likely to be interested in your product.
7. Leverage nostalgia
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that can create a strong emotional connection with your audience. By tapping into familiar cultural references, you can create a sense of familiarity and comfort with your brand.
The Law of Instrument states that “the tool shapes the task,” in this case, leveraging nostalgia in marketing can shape the way consumers perceive a brand or product and influence their purchasing behavior.
Example: Coca-Cola’s use of its classic, vintage logo and imagery is an example of this approach. Coca-Cola has used the same logo since 1887, and the company continues to incorporate the iconic design in its marketing campaigns, creating a sense of nostalgia for consumers. The familiar imagery and branding can evoke positive emotions and memories associated with the brand, making consumers more likely to purchase Coca-Cola products.
Several other cognitive biases that are similar to the Law of Instrument,
Confirmation Bias: This bias refers to our tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and values, while ignoring or dismissing information that contradicts them. In this sense, the “tool” of our existing beliefs shapes our interpretation of new information.
Framing Effect: The framing effect refers to how the way information is presented or “framed” can influence our perceptions and decisions. For example, presenting the same information in a positive or negative light can lead to different reactions and outcomes.
Priming Effect: The priming effect refers to how exposure to one stimulus can influence our response to a subsequent stimulus. For example, seeing an image of a burger can prime us to feel hungry and crave food.
Availability Heuristic: The availability heuristic refers to our tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events that are more memorable or easily accessible in our minds. In this sense, the “tool” of our memory shapes our perception of the likelihood of different outcomes.
“The Law of the Instrument: A Cognitive Bias That Shapes Our Thoughts and Actions” by James Clear: https://jamesclear.com/law-of-the-instrument
“Law of the Instrument” by BehavioralEconomics.com: https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/law-of-the-instrument/
“Confirmation Bias: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices” by Better Humans: https://betterhumans.pub/confirmation-bias-why-you-make-terrible-life-choices-34debfc1409a
“Confirmation Bias: Definition and Examples” by Verywell Mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-confirmation-bias-2795024
“Framing Effect: What It Is and Why It Matters for Marketers” by Hubspot: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/framing-effect
“What Is Priming in Marketing? Definition and Examples” by Brafton: https://www.brafton.com/blog/strategy/what-is-priming-in-marketing-definition-and-examples/
“How Priming Works and How to Use It in Your Marketing” by WordStream: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/05/29/priming-examples
“Availability Heuristic” by BehavioralEconomics.com: https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/availability-heuristic/
“How the Availability Heuristic Affects Your Decision-Making” by Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2020/05/how-the-availability-heuristic-affects-your-decision-making