By Guest Contributor Dan White
Brands are essentially memories: collections of connections in the brain, built up and constantly evolving over time as people have more experiences connected with the brand. The brand will be different from one individual to the next, depending on the set of experiences they have had.
A brand can be defined as the associations that spring to mind when people come across the brand. Associations can include the brand’s name, its logo, what the product looks like and what it does. They can also include memories of using the brand, based on recent experience or long ago, and any words, sounds, images or ideas remembered from the brand’s communications.
In this fictitious example, Robo-Claus is a toy robot for young children with interchangeable claws and a Santa’s hat. It has been advertised for years as a must-have Christmas present. The ads feature stories of the robot using his versatile claws to help Santa deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Sadly, Robo-Claus is notorious for requiring a lot of battery power, which means he’s usually out of action before Boxing Day. The diagram illustrates what Robo-Claus’s dominant mental associations might look like.
A brand’s associations influence whether it is bought or not, in the context of alternative choices and relative prices. They can affect purchasing immediately or decades later. Some ads that haven’t been aired for over 50 years are still recalled vividly today; a British ad featuring talking chimps taking a piano downstairs is a famous example. What matters to marketing is how all these associations shape purchase decisions, and how they could be developed so that more of the target audience is more predisposed to buy the brand in the future. The section that follows sets out a process that marketers can use to identify the associations best for growing the brand – the cornerstone of brand strategy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan White is a marketing connoisseur, established thought leader and independent brand consultant. He carries a 25-year career as CMO and methodology specialist within the Insights division of Kantar. Dan is British and lives in Warwickshire, UK.
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