There is a place in your brain about the size of a green pea that if damaged, will make everyone you know unrecognizable to you, and it is key to being a better marketer.

One of the things I appreciate about my job is the access it gives me. A few years ago, we did a campaign that involved me interviewing some of the leading neurologists and researchers in the world. They flew in from all over for a neurosurgery conference in NYC, and I got to spend a couple hours each with the best of the best. During that project, I learned about the Fusiform Face Area or FFA for short.

The FFA controls our ability to recognize faces and only faces. Understandably, it also relates to feelings of trust. “Is this the face of the ax murder off last night’s news, or my mom? Decisions decisions.” Below is a BBC documentary of a lady who’s FFA has been damaged in an accident. The whole thing is fascinating, but in the scene starting at 1:50, she’s trying to identify someone very close to her.

She couldn’t even recognize herself! How crazy is that?!?!

Ok Daniel, that’s cool and all, but this is a marketing blog, not a neurology blog. What’s this have to do with me?

It’s not just faces that trigger this area of trust. It’s also pictures of faces! Every last one of your customers has a place in their brain that’s evolved specifically for identifying who they can trust. Having a consistent spokesperson in your content can drive trust and create loyalty.

We talk a lot about Authenticity at Scale around here. The idea that it’s easy to create authenticity when you’re small, but a lot harder when your company name has its own stock ticker symbol. One of the key ways around this challenge is by leveraging key individuals, real people within the company, who you can help build a brand around. This works both externally and internally. The key is to celebrate a variety of people within the company while keeping the number small enough that the audience is getting to know each of them over time. This will both increase the chances that audience members will find someone they identify with, while also preventing a single spectacular failure point like Subway illustrated for all of us.

In the long run, creating celebrities within your organization can only increase the value of the organization they belong to, all while creating greater trust and loyalty.