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Understanding the Halo Effect

Wayne McMaster

21 September 2012

When creating greater desire for our clients’ businesses and their offerings, we deploy a number of methodologies from our creative communications toolbox.

When changing people’s perceptions about a business it must ultimately be borne out reality, with a thorough understanding of their business, their shared values and built on those found and tested brand truths that we uncover in our Discovery process. One consumer trait that we can leverage to our advantage, but be mindful of, is the understanding of the Halo Effect, first coined by Edward Thorndike, in the 1920s, an educational psychologist who observed how one set of people evaluated another set of people within a classroom setting. Over time he noticed teacher favouring certain pupils and rating them highly across the board, even in instances where they did not deserve this. Over the years other tests have confirmed this quickness for people to hang a halo over somebody or organisation who has a good quality. As Esther Inglis-Arkell says in her article The Halo Effect: Why You Won't Believe Your Heroes Have Flaws, published on Io9, "One good trait, if sufficiently emphasised, will bleed over into everything else you do."

Putting theory into practise

Our approach to illustrating the values discovered for our Bourlet Consulting put this understanding into practise.  The unique and bespoke nature of their service offering to the affluent, coupled with a desire to be bold and different took us into the field of glassblowing as a visual metaphor to illustrate their purpose and process. The unique nature of glassblowing, shows us that each piece is individual, no two are the same; the pieces when being worked are in constant motion, dynamic, in that fluid nature, as are the investment markets; the large pieces require expert handling, care, and teamwork to create a finished artwork. Working with one of Europe’s leading glass blowers, Peter Layton, of the London Glassblowing Centre, helped transfer his unique standing and credibility in his market place upon our client, who during this enlightened process, ended up with a beautiful glass artwork to admire.  

Peter Layton - 'Burano' from London Glassblowing on Vimeo.

Thorndike, L. E. (1920) A Constant Error in Psychological Ratings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 4, 25-29

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