Our brains are designed to assimilate oddities in our surroundings fast. We have to – it is a survival mechanism.
In the caveman days, the hunter (possibly your great, great, great, great, great, hairy grandfather), would be walking through the woods. He would hear a crunch of leaves in the distance, and he would freeze, focusing all his attention on this new, different and unexpected sound.
Once he saw it was a squirrel (probably a saber-tooth squirrel), he would ignore it and continue his walk. That squirrel could make all the noise in the world now. Since it was deemed neither a threat nor an opportunity, the noise of crunching leaves filtered away into the background. After all, if the caveman stayed exclusively focused on the squirrel, a saber-tooth canary could swoop down unnoticed and kill him.
That new, unexpected squirrel noise very quickly became an old, irrelevant noise. But the next new noise, maybe an ominous canary chirp, would trigger that same focused reaction from grandpa caveman. It would get all the focus, until it was fully recognized as a threat (it will have me for dinner) or an opportunity (I will have it for dinner).
This process of identifying new, different and unexpected things is an ingrained survival instinct. It is how we found food and avoided becoming it. While this instinct may not be as important today, it still exists. You have it. I have it. Our customers have it. We all have the core instinct to identify new, different and unexpected things.
New gets noticed. Old gets ignored very quickly. Whatever was new just moments ago becomes very old (you can read that as very expected), very fast. Your products. Your car. Your spouse.
The lesson for us as business leaders is to frequently freshen up our brands. Change the formula. Refresh the packaging. Make your stuff new, different and unexpected again and again. It is exactly what our customers want, biologically speaking.