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My model is derived from the ideas of Otto Rank + years of experience in working with people on perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

From that work I have noticed a set of interlocking motivational drivers that persist in daily life. Each driver is made more or less potent by current events, fashions or culture.

The first driver is the need to self-actualise that I have called the Progressive Tendency. The second and opposing force is the need to Regress, to fall back on tried and tested routines, brands and behaviours. All of us experience some tension between these forces in our daily lives. The will to status & power live in the progressive tendency, while comfort and play reside in the regressive. You can already see that many brands ‘pitch’ themselves into one or other of these.

A third and integrating driver I call Reparation and it describes the need to make amends, to fix the broken or do the undone. The reparative tendency swings into play either when we have done too little (been too regressive) or gone too far (been too progressive).

The picture above illustrates this Creative Tension. You can use the model to calibrate your own experiences.

Do you have a tendency to one or other of these extremes? Do you typically do too little or too much? Our explorations have revealed that most of us have some arenas in which we constantly do too little, while in others we do too much. That kind of imbalance in daily life leads both to the need to compensate but also to the occurrence of breakthroughs from time to time because of our persistence!

The recession has made it difficult for most people to anticipate progress in the near future. This is frustrating in an individualistic culture and, I believe, drives the prominence of internet brands with their feeling of progressiveness together with those brands that practice innovation as a core competence (Apple, Amazon, Groupon). There’s also an illusion with these brands that you’re at the leading edge, merely because you click on this or that.

The regressive component in brands is found among those most familiar to us and where they get their service right, allow us to relax and experience a feeling of being ‘held’ and safe. Well known names are prominent here, like W H Smith, Greggs and the NHS – at its best.

Reparation is a driver for aspects of brands that mend, fix, heal, integrate and here we can locate brands like B&QBoots and Specsavers. The NHS also has this aspect to its character.

Within this blog I cannot calculate what your brand – or your favourite brand if you are a customer – stands for in terms of these drivers, but by using my diagnostic discovery techniques in empirical studies I can help you work out where you stand and what your customers want you to focus on. This is crucial information because whatever your current style through which you have attracted and satisfied your customers’ motives, it may be time either to reinforce that position or to incorporate another part of the motivational palette. The X Factor is a classic example of a ‘product’ that blends Progressive, Regressive and Reparative elements!