Customers don’t just see with their eyes, they see with the words you give them.


If you saw 2 cars crashing into each other, you’d know what you saw, right?

You’d know, for example, whether or not there was any broken glass, surely?

Actually, no.

Meet Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California.


If you’re running a brand, her work will interest you.

She’s dedicated her life to studying the (un)reliability of perception and memory.

In one experiment, subjects were shown a film of a car accident.

After watching it, some were asked ‘About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?’

Other subjects were asked the same question, but with the word ‘smashed’ replaced by ‘collided’, or ‘bumped’, or ‘hit’, or ‘contacted’ (me neither).

As the graph at the top of this blog shows, changing the verb changed the speed that people thought the cars were travelling.

A week later, she asked the ‘smashed’ and ‘hit’ groups if they saw any broken glass from the crash.

The people who had heard the verb ‘smashed’ were more than 2x as likely to say they saw broken glass.

In the film, there was no broken glass. But 1/3rd of the ‘smashed’ group thought they’d seen it.

So, if you’re a CEO or CMO telling a customer about your brand, the words you use don’t just describe what you think. They literally change what your customer sees.

And that’s a change you can make in the time it takes to rewrite your landing page, or your sales materials, or your customer service scripts, or your next email.

If you want expert help shaping what your customers see, get in touch.