The not-so-secret way to stand out among other brands

It’s amazing how our minds are able to recall a brand just by seeing part of its logo. Through repeated exposure and with the right assets, brands like Apple become so well known that they’re able to drop off their logotype from their products. In a highly competitive marketing world, it’s more important than ever for companies to create and use distinctive brand assets to get noticed.

According to Byron Sharp, author of How Brands Grow, there are three main reasons why distinctive brand assets matter and how they contribute to a brand’s success.

  1. Loyalty – Woolworths stocks around 20,000 products on their shelves. Time constraints, along with cognitive overload, means we choose to ‘satisfice’ when buying a product. In other words, rather than working hard to buy the best product, we’re most likely to reach for brands that we recognise and consider good enough. The ones we consider good enough are either the brands we already buy or the ones we notice.
  2. Refreshes memory structures – When you heard that ‘ba da, da, da daa’ jingle by McDonald’s for the first time, a tiny connection formed between a combination of nerve cells in your brain—creating a memory structure. Your brain’s memory structures for McDonald’s refreshes itself every time you hear that jingle, creating a powerful effect that strengthens connections to McDonald’s, making the brand stronger and (sometimes annoyingly) stickier in your mind. Sight is the fastest form of communication, but brand assets can also be aural or verbal. To create stickiness for a brand, consumers need to recognise the association that the stimuli belong to in order to refresh their memory structures for the right brand
  3. Salience – Although coffee is a popular beverage, there weren’t many branded coffeehouses until Starbucks came along. Today, people recognise the Starbucks brand not only by its iconic logo, but also by its store design. Whilst the physical layout varies between coffeehouses, they all maintain the classic Starbucks feel and environment—embodying heritage-style architecture in loft-like spaces punctuated with worn wood and factory-inspired lighting. The salience of the brand allows Starbucks to out-compete the less visible, unbranded coffee shops (even though many are probably offering better coffee).

Brands like Apple, McDonald’s and Starbucks have a distinct set of assets that they’ve used consistently throughout their branding efforts. They’ve nailed their logo, colours, font, physical space and style to create brand prominence. Like a road well-travelled, consumers have ingrained the branding into their minds, making it easier to get their attention.

That attention turns to preference.

Preference turns to loyalty.

Loyalty turns to a stronger bottom line.

To be continued…