The Keys to Brand Success
by Gordon Pincott
These relationships are the end result of all the experiences that consumers have with brands through direct contact, marketing communication, news, or publicity. All of these experiences contribute to the formation of brand associations that are called upon when a consumer is considering a purchase. The decision to purchase one brand over another will depend on the strength and quality of those associations, which determine what an individual knows, thinks, and feels about a brand.
The associations from which brands derive their value are stored in our brains, where they are organized and saved in one of three clusters according to what they relate to: knowledge, experience, or emotion. Some brands succeed by establishing very strong associations in just one of those areas, but it is highly desirable for brands to have welldeveloped associations across all three. On average, the market shares of brands that have rich associations in each of the three areas are four percentage points higher than those of brands with less balanced associations. The essential task of marketing is to create and strengthen the brand associations that build and support market share.Which Key Opens the Brand Cupboard?
In his book The Advertised Mind, Erik du Plessis likened brand memories to items in an overstuffed cupboard, which, when the door is opened, come tumbling out. When the door to one of our mental brand cupboards is opened, what falls out is a cascade of brand memories. Those that were most recently accessed will spill out first, followed by a stream of other memories that will continue to flow until the cupboard door is closed.
So what key unlocks this cupboard of associations and allows us to retrieve those memories? And what makes the key easy to use? If brand associations are going to influence a purchase decision, they need to be accessed quickly. For many brands, the main key is the brand name — Nescafé, Walmart, Red Bull — whether that name is seen, heard, or conjured up in your mind.
For an uncomplicated brand with a highly distinctive name, like Facebook, little else may be needed to unlock brand associations. However, some categories, such as smoking cessation products and drain cleaners, include a number of competing brands with similar sounding names. When a brand name is not obviously unique and distinctive, additional cues help to access the correct associations.
Additional cues will also be needed when the brand name is one that has been extended across a number of products. For example, the brand key “Dove” will unlock something different than “Dove Shampoo” or “Dove Beauty Bars. ” The key “Toyota” will access different memories than “Toyota Yaris, ” and the key “Tesco” opens a different door than “Tesco Metro. ” Managing such portfolios of brands is one of the most complex marketing tasks, and minimizing confusion is crucial for brand success. If associations with an umbrella brand are not clear and distinct in every context where the brand name appears, it will be harder for people to access the most relevant memories.