I observed from the recent survey I conducted that many of the respondents could recall the subject of the message, but had difficulty recalling the brand represented in the ad. This is an obvious problem. Health promotion advertising has consistently been proven ineffective. Could it be the shortcomings of their branding efforts? Brands like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Chik-Fil-A have created a strong enough brand image where you tend to not only remember the brand in ad executions but maybe even remember the content of the ad. That’s more than can be said for healthy living advertising initiatives. How can they be more memorable? How can they do so responsibly?
5 tips on how to be both a memorable and socially reputable brand:
1.) Don’t brand like your competitors.
Just today I was thinking of a beer ad I really liked and wanted to find on YouTube. I thought it was for MillerCoors, but as I searched I couldn’t find it. I figured maybe it was the wrong brand so I starting searching under Bud Light. Still no luck, I have no clue who made that commercial…and honestly, I have no visual recollection of the logo used in the commercial. It was just like all the other beer commercials: pretty woman sitting at bar, group of men hit on woman, all drinking beer, comedic ending. The point is, if you brand like your competitors you don’t stand out. You’re all selling a similar product, how do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be remembered?
Also, standing out from your competitors does not mean being the outcast either. Health promotion initiatives have to be careful with this since they tend to have difficulty retaining consumer attention and generating consumer action. Messages promoting healthy living products want to be heard, but should maintain socially responsible practices while catching people’s attention.
2.) Leave room for a little mystery.
According to a study by Fazio et al. (1992), category-brand associations are higher with mystery ads than non-mystery ads for unfamiliar viewers. With familiar viewers, the difference in effectiveness was significantly less. Fazio et al. (1992) deduce that, “Perhaps the most salient feature of processing mystery ads is the necessity of the attentive viewer to ask ‘What is being advertised here?’ This should create a greater ‘readiness to categorize’ the brand when its identity is finally revealed” (p. 10). Mystery can intrigue the viewer, make them work harder to figure out the brand, and because they work harder, they are more likely to remember. Make sure your mystery is revealed early enough in the ad for the viewer to remember the brand.
3.) Include a typeface in your brand, but only if it sets the appropriate tone for your business.
Childers and Jass (2002) found that it is important to understand that semantic associations in typefaces may create memorable images in three potential ways:
(a) through consistent use in a particular situation, (b) through a direct relation with the perceptual qualities generated by the visual patterning of the stimulus, and/or (c) via associations with abstract connotative dimensions (p. 104).
But you have to be careful here. Failure to select the “right” typeface for your business can cheapen your brand image. Make sure it incorporates the semantics you want associated with your brand.
4.) Use emotional words in the tagline.
A study by Nielsen et al. (2010) found that participants demonstrated greater awareness of the advertisement and the brand when highly emotional words were included in the headline of the ad: stupid, selfish, biased, nosy or any “ego-threatening trait” (p. 1141). The Nielsen et. al (2010) study found that using emotional words in headlines generates greater awareness of both the headline and the brand. If used ethically, this technique can distinguish your tagline or ad headline from the clutter. However, please proceed with caution:
DON’T use taglines that are offensive or stereotypical. Be responsible.
DO use taglines that create a strong reaction leading to action.
5.) Make it memorable but don’t make it cheap.
I recently saw a PSA for breast cancer of a woman walking in a bikini around the pool, with men gawking at her close-up breasts. The PSA used the tagline “Save the Boobs” as a measure to get consumers involved in the fight against breast cancer. Campaigns to end breast cancer are already well-known in the marketplace and while this PSA aimed to connect to people on a different level than previous campaigns, it cheapens what is usually a well-respected cause. Using lowest common denominator techniques in campaigns will not only cost you points in reputation, but also in respect. Be creative, but be socially responsible too!
Childers, T. and Jass, J. (2002) . All dressed up with something to say: Effects of
typeface semantic associations on brand perceptions and consumer memory. Journal
of Consumer Pyschology, 12(2), 93-106.
Fazio, R., Herr, P., and Powell, M. (1992) . On the development and strength of
category-brand associations in memory: The case of mystery ads. Journal of
Consumer Psychology, 1(1), 1-13.
Nielsen, J., Shapiro, S., Mason, C. (2010) . Emotionality and semantic onsets:
Exploring orienting attention responses in advertising. Journal of Marketing Research,