The Mandela Effect: Its Intrigue and Impact on Business Messaging

Written by Reece Dyer

28 June 2023


In the realm of collective human memory, there exists an interesting phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect. It refers to a situation where a large group of people remember something differently to how it occurred. The term originated from the widespread belief that Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, had died during his imprisonment in the 1980s, which was clearly not the case. Many people use this as evidence of slipping into alternate realities where facts have changed – but this is not the Marvel Universe.

The Mandela Effect is more than just a curious quirk of human memory. In the context of business-to-business (B2B) communications, particularly in the tech sector, understanding the Mandela Effect and its role in brand perception is of great significance. Take these instances as prime examples

The Monopoly man – Many people recall the top hat wearing man, also known as Rich Uncle Pennybags, as having a monocle. However, if you look at the game, he doesn’t wear one.

‘That’ infamous Star Wars quote – Perhaps one of the most famous examples of the Mandela Effect is the misquotation from Star Wars: “Luke, I am your father.” The actual quote is “No, I am your father.”

Fruit of the Loom logo – People recall the Fruit of the Loom logo as having a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, in it. However, the logo has never featured a cornucopia, only a collection of fruits.

The Mandela Effect and business messaging:

When creating company messages, it’s critical to remember that your audience’s perception and memory of your brand aren’t always objective. They can be influenced by a myriad of factors, from individual biases to collective memory quirks, like the Mandela Effect.

Consider the following: If a substantial portion of your audience mistakenly remembers your product or service differently than it is, this could lead to misunderstandings, false expectations, or, in the worst case, a tarnished brand image. Here are a few examples of how the Mandela Effect could impact your B2B communications:

  • Brand identity misconceptions: People may remember your logo, tagline, or key messaging differently than it truly is
  • Product and service misunderstandings: If customers misremember the features, benefits, or usage of your product or service, they could end up underutilising it or being unsatisfied
  • False event recollections: If a negative event (like a service outage or a product recall) happened to a company in your industry, people might misremember it as having happened to your company

Mitigating the Mandela Effect:

To ensure there are no misinterpretations  when it comes to your business messaging, there are a number of key strategies to consider:

  • Consistency is key: Be consistent in your messaging across all channels. This will help reinforce the correct information in the minds of your audience
  • Regular reminders: Regularly reinforce customers about your products, services, and brand values. This can help overwrite any incorrect memories or perceptions they may have
  • Clarity in communication: Ensure that your messaging is clear, concise, and easy to remember. Complex messages are more likely to be misremembered
  • Engage and interact: Engage with your audience regularly. Interactive content can help reinforce correct information and give your audience a chance to change any misconceptions they might have

While the Mandela Effect is a strange phenomenon, it serves as a crucial reminder about the fallibility of collective memory. As we navigate the world of B2B tech PR, it’s important to keep this in mind. By understanding the potential impact of the Mandela Effect and the consequences of unclear or confused brand messaging, businesses can ensure their messages are remembered correctly, protecting and enhancing their brand image in the process.