The Nanosecond Test

If you’ve ever worked with me, you know that I am a strong believer in the “nanosecond test” or as others refer to it, the “sniff test.” The non-scientific experiment when you look quickly at any marketing tactic to see what you instinctively perceive from the image, text, or composition. You know, when something doesn’t look quite right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Or if you somehow end up only reading every other word in a headline, so it becomes a nonsensical sentence or worse – something inappropriate.

This nanosecond test is more important than ever in our current environment. In the last several weeks, I’ve taken a long pause at a lot of businesses advertising their reopening plans. Along with their promise of enforcing mandated social distancing practices – wearing masks and maintaining 6′ of distance between patrons – they are featuring photos or videos of customers not wearing masks. Other visuals are at angles that make the people appear closer than 6′. Likely, they are simply photos from the pre-COVID world or the only ones they have available. However, all of these fail my nanosecond test, and I immediately lose confidence in that business.

If you’re promoting your reopening plans or your safety protocols, then you should take the time to review your visuals with this lens. More importantly, if you’re investing in new assets, make sure a quick glance at them tells the story you want them to. It may have taken you hours or days to capture the perfect photo or video, but it takes just a nanosecond for your audience to see the complete opposite.

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