The Power of Granfalloons in Marketing and Advertising

The Power of Granfalloons in Marketing and Advertising

Updated July 17, 2022


How Many Granfalloons Do You Belong To?

 Do you belong to or participate in an organized group? Of course you do.

Everyone belongs to some group, or another.

Belonging is the 3rd tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

You might ask, “What does psychology have to do with marketing, advertising and messaging?”

The answer, in short, is everything.

The root of messaging attempts to encourage the message recipient to take some form of action. We’re all familiar with lifestyle advertising where “keeping up with the Joneses,” “this could be you,” and “join the crowd” messages are aimed at leveraging the human need to belong. It’s definitely big business.

In persuasion tactics, leveraging this need to belong is called the “granfalloon technique.”

The term granfalloon was penned by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut defined a granfalloon as “a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless.” Another granfalloon example he illustrated in the book were Hoosiers, of which Vonnegut himself was a member. The most commonly purported granfalloons are associations and societies based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise.

The granfalloon technique is a persuasion tactic used to encourage individuals to identify with a particular granfalloon or social group. This helps engage the individual and support their commitment, loyalty and even brand advocacy through adoption of the group’s brand icons, views, and actions.

You see this all around you.

Why do people wear branded merchandise? Sometimes people even go so far as to brand themselves with tattoos of their favorite brands. Sometimes brand fanatics even die for their favorite brands.

Belonging is a basic human need and it provides a sense of meaning, value and acceptance for those wanting to belong.

So, you can see why most brands create granfalloons in order to connect with consumers’ needs to belong.

Messaging is part science and part art. From the images and colors used in display ads to the words, sentences and even the font style – psychology plays a central role in crafting a successful messaging or advertisement.

Wrap these foundational elements into a granfalloon tactical approach like a club, group or “special” class and you’ve got a powerfully appealing start to winning people over.

If you want to create successful messaging scenarios, we recommend that you read more in our post, The Syntax of Consumerism.



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