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“The human brain makes decisions in an emotional manner then actually validates them with rational thought.”

Entrepreneur Amina AlTai

Amina is the innovative, energy-force, co-founder and marketing director behind Imagemme – a NYC brand innovation lab. With an unbridled enthusiasm for marketing and creating memorable consumer experiences, Amina is known for her creative solutions that have a direct impact on the bottom line.

She is the co-author of Always In Style (2010) and is the Treasurer of the Accessories Council. She has been a featured guest speaker at Lehigh University’s Iacocca Institute, & the Global Village for Entrepreneurship, sharing her insights on being a young entrepreneur and marketing at the global level.

Imagemme is a packaging design and branding agency located in New York City.


MO: What happens in a brand innovation lab?

Amina: We like to use the word “lab” versus agency because we have a very collaborative trial-and-error type environment, akin to laboratory. No idea is too big, too small or too outlandish until it’s been properly evaluated. We’re crazy marketing scientists really. Many of our strategies are grounded in science, especially our consumer marketing work. Neuromarketing has greatly influenced our processes, the way we solve problems and craft brand assets.

MO: Can you provide us with some tips and insights on creating well-rounded promotional strategy?

Amina: These days, brands are putting a lot of money into digital. Strategies like SEO can work well, but on their own can commoditize a brand into a few simple keywords. A well-rounded promotional strategy really depends on the product and category but should help tell the story of the brand and create an emotional connection with consumers. It is often very difficult to do that with just one tactic, thus a solid promotional strategy could touch upon above and below the line communications, digital and social media strategy, SEO, product placement, strategic thought leadership, cause marketing, sampling, events etc. There are a number of ways to reach your consumer, depending on who they are. The point is, you should provide thoughtful, useful and insightful communications to consumers that they can use in their everyday lives to get them better acquainted with your product and to buy into your brand for both emotional and rational reasons.

MO: What are some of the key components of building a memorable brand?

Amina: One of my favorite proverbs is “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

These days, consumers want to be involved in the building and growth of the brand. That’s why crowd sourcing is such a home run for so many brands. However you are speaking to your consumers, make sure you engage as many of the 5 senses as possible to create a memorable and lasting impression.

Packaging design is even seeing some really interesting trends that go a long way in terms of memorability. Packaging infused with textures and scents as well as QR codes and NFC are engaging consumers in ways we never could previously. We can create more of a controlled branded environment that speak to a consumers values and passions, and that is where the memorability lies.

MO: What are emotional branding and neuromarketing? How do they work? Are they concepts that most businesses should be thinking about and implementing or do you need a big budget to be marketing on this scale?

Amina: Both of these ideas are huge and we’d need the pages of several books to cover both exhaustively. The idea with neuromarketing and emotional marketing is to tap into the consumers’ subconscious and to speak to them on an emotional level as opposed to a rational one. Countless studies suggest that the human brain makes decisions in an emotional manner then actually validates them with rational thought. Scientist are using FMRI (Functional MRIs) to demonstrate how certain tactics activate the emotional centers of the brain and even illicit responses similar to love, desire, etc. This research is really pivotal in terms of cultivating brand loyalty.

Like any marketing tactic, they can be employed on a huge scale or a tiny one. For example, scent has been proven to be tied to memory. So the use of scents in packaging is one tactic brands are using to create a memorable environment. Adding scents to your packaging, depending on your volumes, will only add a few cents to your costs.

MO: What are three trends in your industry that you’re excited by?

Amina: In terms of packaging design I am really excited about NFC and edible food packaging. As the packaging and digital worlds coalesce we are seeing some interesting innovations causing us to reevaluate our design process and how we engage with consumers on packages. We used to see very specific one-way communications usually centered on product information. However there is a shift towards instant activation that engages them in deeper, two-way, brand dialogue. Near field communication, or NFC, is acting as a strong catalyst to this packaging paradigm shift. NFC (essentially the consumer version of RFID) allow smart phones to engage with tags embedded in packaging, or other printed material, to immediately engage the consumer in an authentic and controlled brand experience. Their uses are varied and they are appearing everywhere from posters, and press kits to packaging as they appear to be the answer to many of the shortcomings seen with the use of QR codes and snap tags.

As for edible food packaging… What could be cooler than being able to eat the package your food came in? There are several protein-based films that can act as food storage containers, but they also have the ability to inhibit major food borne bacteria! Additionally, there is a trend emerging whereby the edible film can be used as a delivery system for flavors, vitamins and antioxidants. These technologies are in their infancy, but I am super excited to see where they go!

MO: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

Amina: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was co-founding Imagemme with my business partner Gabriel Alvarez-Jacobo. It’s been a wonderful learning experience and has allowed me to related to small businesses in a way I never would have been able to otherwise. It makes your more nimble and creative. You find yourself, day in and day out, having to come up with the most impactful, cutting edge, cost effective solutions for brands with very modest budgets. It’s been a wonderful lesson in ingenuity and well worth the risk.


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