Women, Spirit & Money: The Halo Effect

Image Marketing Strategies that Attract the “Good” and the “Beautiful” - Learn How an Angelic Glow Attracts Increase in Status and Sales, Capitalize on Borrowed Interest, and Avoid the Devilish Traps of Stereotype and Bias in Your Offers

Sherri L. McLendon

Sherri L. McLendon

First impressions, as they say, matter. So does the ability to light up a room like an angel.

“She’s on fire,” we might hear. “Wow, she’s glowing. She must be doing really well.”

These angelic attraction qualities are viewed as desirable, even more so when the perception of a person’s energetic field of influence of a person or thing is experienced or described as expansive. This phenomenon, called the “halo effect,” occurs when the people and things around someone who seems to be “illumined” derive benefit from the association.

“Just being in the same room with her was enough,” we might say.

When one person’s image is enhanced, it provides a reference point for others to define themselves in relationship to it.

“Can I snap a picture with you?” Even the shy are emboldened to ask celebs for a photograph.

Proximity heightens this referential quality of relationship, which experts call a form of “borrowed interest.” When we bask in another’s glow, we are able to maintain our own identities, even while benefiting from another’s popularity or celebrity.

For example, when we are photographed with those with whom we feel a connection, we benefit from the perception of that relationship, no matter how superficial. Depending on our livelihood or calling, we may snap a selfie with grassroots activists, authors, award winners, politicians, prima ballerinas, singer songwriters, celebrity coaches, and others.

Then we share that image online to mutual benefit.

The idea behind the halo effect is not new. Art historians have long remarked on the depictions of persons surrounded by light to demonstrate sainthood, exaltation or holiness. But the modern usage of the term was coined in 1920 by Edward Thorndike. A psychologist, he noticed that military officers tended to judge the performance of men under their commands as consistently “good” or “bad,” without a lot of aspects in between.

His observation and study suggested that first impressions matter quite a bit.

In the book Image Marketing, first published in the 1990s, Joe Marconi wrote that “Quality survives and the image of quality illuminates it.” In other words, when we retain our individuality and uniqueness, and it’s reflected in our audience’s perceptions of our personal or brand image, then it “feels good.”

Feeling good is good for business, most of us would agree. We want to extend a feeling of kinship to our once and future clients, so that they identify with us and the light that we bring to the world. Testimonials and celebrity endorsements help our audiences feel good about their association with us. They feel they know us, and that they can trust us.

However, the devilish side of halo effect also functions as a stereotype, resulting in a type of bias which means we value others’ abilities unevenly. As a result, heroic images can be created and destroyed in an instant. When qualitative assessment of capabilities is the norm, such as in public schools, positive attributes may be overlooked if the student does not exhibit preferred behaviors.

In 2002, Melvin Scorcher and James Brant wrote in Harvard Business Review that the halo effect can also be a “trap” when evaluating performance. In their study of hiring practices, they suggest that business leaders actively recruiting applicants may “Fall prey to the halo effect: overvaluing certain attributes while undervaluing others.” In other words, decision-making processes are unequal based on information bias or distortion.

The halo effect means, in very real terms, that a person who is perceived as “beautiful” or “good” in one context most likely will be perceived as good at everything, whether they are or not.

Marconi offers this sage advice for marketers who wish to successfully engage the halo effect. First, he says, review the aspects of the image to which you aspire. Then, develop your strategy. Finally, choose the tactics that will best demonstrate your own identity in relationship to those characteristics.

In 2016, I believe the best way to captivate the minds of an engaged, responsive audience is to use the language they prefer to talk about those attributes. Strategically, we might see this in the form of solid niche marketing approaches or qualitative analysis of language within audiences. Tactically, we choose to use tools that magnify what we’ve learned. We deliver what we have to offer to the people it benefits most. When we offer our goods and services derived from our own sense of identity and uniqueness, yet delivered in the language which communicates both value and values, something magical happens.

We find our halo, and with it the ability to positively impact outcomes. It’s a beautiful thing.

Sherri L. McLendon, M.A., is a recognized Asheville area feminine leader, conscious business coach WomenSpiritAndMoney.com, and marketing public relations consultant and content strategist MonetaMPR.com.

This entry was posted in March 2016 and tagged money, women spirit and money. Bookmark the permalink.

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