Building Strong Brands

Ask an advertising agency or printing company about how to build a brand in Malaysia and this is what you will most hear:-

“All you need to do is to print and distribute 5,000 leaflets to start building a strong company brand!”

“You need a website in order to brand your product, services or company!”

“Standardize all the colors for all of your printed materials and your website to build a brand!”

“Print booklets, flyers and posters to build your company brand!”

It all sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If building a brand is about printing 5,000 leaflets, a couple of booklets, hand out a few thousand flyers and posting posters everywhere you can, the big question would be this – why on earth would big successful brand names like Nike, McDonalds, Kaspersky, Adidas, Nokia spend billions of dollars to build their brands?

Why aren’t they just printing out posters, creating websites and putting up posters like everyone else?

And renowned author of ‘Building Strong Brands’, David A. Aaker, has this to say about it – there are three levels of brand awareness in the general consumer’s mind.

The first level is brand recognition: Familiarity and liking. At this level, consumers do not necessarily remember where they first saw the brand name. They do not remember why it is different from all other brands. They have a faint memory of ever seeing it…somewhere. In fact, they may not even remember what it is that you are selling or offering! How astonishing, huh?

On a personal level, many years back, when people talked about an Anlene milk powder commercial, I had no inkling as to where I saw the brand before that. I can’t recall why it was any different from other milk brand names. If someone asked me for a recommendation for milk powder, Anlene would never have been at the tip of my tongue.

The second level: Brand recall and the Graveyard. At this level, consumers CAN remember the brand name when a type of product or service is referenced. For instance, names like ING, Great Eastern Life or AIA would come to mind whenever someone mentioned life insurance in Malaysia. But consumers need a trigger in order to recall the brand name.

The third level: Brand name dominance. This is when in the consumer’s mind, the name of the brand replaces a whole type of service or product. When asked about a photocopier, Xerox instantly pop into their head. If someone was suffering from a headache, Panadol comes to mind.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, the marketing world is getting intensely crowded now. It is harder than ever before to build a strong brand name – but it is not impossible.

In order to create awareness and help consumers remember your brand, it boils down to one important factor – frequency. You don’t stop marketing yourself and reminding your customers or potential customers about what you are and what it is that you are doing. By understanding our neuron system, you will understand more about why we need to continuously repeat ourselves.

There are approximately one-hundred billion neurons in a healthy adult’s brain and each of them connect with approximately another ten-thousand other neurons. The role of neurons is, in a nutshell, to help store memories.

If you walked past a bakery and smell freshly baked bread coming from the oven, multiple neurons react to it and associate the smell of freshly baked bread with the bakery. And they all set a pattern. The next time you smell something similar, the neurons in your brain will react in the same way.

Without making things complicated, suffice to say that you will need to be subjected to the same smell over and over again in order for the memory to stick. It all depends on the number of times the signal comes through, how frequent this neuronal pattern is fired up.

Based on the above, we can safely say that it applies to our marketing efforts as well. We need to create strong, important messages…frequently! That is because cells live and they die. The cells that once helped create the neuronal pattern will die off and the memory may break down.

Does that explain why large companies NEVER stop advertising? Despite how established and well-known their brand names are, they understand the human brain too well…they have studied consumer behaviour and know that people forget and they have to keep reminding them.

So, ask yourself – will 5,000 leaflets help you build a strong brand? Will a single website help strengthen your position in the industry that you are in if you did not update it often?

And last you forget, let me remind you that there are at least a few thousand new brands being created every single day. What are the chances of your brand standing out among all of them and more in the future if you did not keep at it?

With the internet, it is almost impossible to build a strong brand name without going digital too. Well, this is something that we are going to look into in the future newsletter.

Leave a Reply