Brand Salience – Why It Matters for Your Brand

February 22, 2010
Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is just showing up .” Unfortunately, at purchase decision time, the vast majority of brands never show up at all. Getting consumers to “think” about your brand more often, and in more buying situations, is one of the most under-rated marketing challenges that brands face today.

Brand Salience — What is It?

Brand Salience is the degree to which your brand is thought about or noticed when a customer is in a buying situation. Strong brands have high Brand Salience and weak brands have little or none.  This helps explain to some degree why big brands are big and small brands are small: if no one thinks about you at the moment of buying truth, your brand is going to be relegated to the dustbin of small and unnoticed brands.

Moment of Truth - Does Your Brand Have Salience ?

Brand Salience IS NOT the same thing as top of mind awareness. Top of mind awareness is simply what brands come to mind when consumers are asked to recall brands within a category. Brand Salience is different. Why? Because it is what brands come to mind when consumers are in a purchase situation. More specifically, Brand Salience is the memory of your brand and its linkage to other important memory structures. The buying situation “mindfulness” and linkage to memory structures is what differentiates Brand Salience from top of mind awareness.

What Drives Brand Salience

This all sounds very simple. But there really is some science behind it. Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science have done research into Brand Salience, and the findings are surprisingly simple, yet counter-intuitive, for Marketers. Brand Salience is a function of the quantity and quality of the consumers memory structures. Brand Salience is the step before consideration–is your brand even “thought of” before the consumer considers a brand or brands and makes a final purchase decision? Or is it mentally screened-out, like the majority of brands?

1.  Quantity Of Memory Structures

In buying situations, consumers are often driven by mental “cues” that trigger their thoughts around brand consideration sets. For example, if I’m thinking about getting a quick meal for under $5, I’m likely to consider Subway based on their ubiquitous “$5 Foot Long” campaign.

Subway $5 Footlong - Building Brand Salience

Or, if I want to eat something “fresh and healthy,” then I’m also likely to think of Subway given their focus on fresh and healthy eating. The more memory structures your brand is linked to, the more salient your brand–e.g. the more likely it is to be thought of during a buying situation. The examples above point out something important: what buyers remember about brands isn’t always the same across buying decisions. So, the quantity of memory structures can make a difference.

2.  Quality of Memory Structures

Romaniuk and Sharp argue that the quality of Brand Salience is a function of the strength of the association and the attribute relevance.  Taking the Subway example above: because I’ve seen so many $5 dollar foot long creative executions, the linkage is very strong. Additionally, if value is important and relevant to me because I’m on a budget, this further increases Brand Salience.

So, to summarize:  Brand Salience is a function of: a) the quantity of memory structures your brand is linked to; and b) the quality of these structures, as defined by the strength of association and relevance of the structure. By building the quantity and quality of memory structures, you maximize the number of consumers who will think of your brand and the number of times they think of your brand in various buying situations. So, in Woody Allen parlance, your brand “shows up.”

Brand Salience vs. Brand Equity — A Conflict?

If you grew up in traditional CPG brand management like me, you were trained to believe that a brand should define its equity and rigorously and relentlessly focus on communicating it without deviation. I still recall senior P&G managers speaking scornfully of advertising which was “off-brand.” On the other hand, Brand Salience sounds a bit like a license for freelance communication–equity be damned.

There needn’t be a conflict. Marketers need to consider two approaches to building Brand Salience:

1.  Focus on Defining and Communicating Different Cues Against A Common Equity – Assuming you’ve defined a focused and important equity for your brand, you need to do the consumer research to understand the most important and relevant cues which link to your benefit. Then, having defined these, brands need to execute creatively against these cues to maximize the number of memory structure associations.

Subway Fresh & Healthy - Building Brand Salience

For example, Subway’s “fresh and healthy” positioning can be executed via a range of cues like “good for my kids,” “for people on diets,” “good for outdoor activities,” etc. These are all different cues that may lead to a consumer considering Subway for a “fresh and healthy” offering.

2.  Create and Own Distinctive Executional Memory Structures – A second approach is to increase the quantity and quality of executional memory structures. For example, the Subway logo, usage of the Jared Fogle character, the $5 dollar foot long music, etc. are all examples of creating executional memory structures. These executional memory structures help create a platform that enables consumers to more easily remember your brand in buying situations.

Subway's Jared Fogle - An Executional Equity

So, Brand Salience is an important but often ignored challenge for Marketers. Do your brand a favor. Listen to Woody Allen. Make sure that your brand “shows up” and is salient — a very important step in ensuring your brand gets considered for purchase.

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Social Media Marketing: Do The Same Marketing Rules Apply ?

February 15, 2010

This is the 5th in a series of periodic guest posts. Catherine Davis is a marketing executive with extensive experience at Diaego, Harris Direct Online, Morgan Stanley, Discover Card, and Leo Burnett. 

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Do traditional marketing rules apply to Social Media ? Just before the holidays, I attended the CMO Club Summit in San Francisco, where the topic of discussion quickly turned to social media. Industry experts from Guy Kawasaki to Hewlett Packard’s Michael Mendenhall weighed in on whether marketers should incorporate social media as part of their overall strategy.  

Our conclusion? While social media marketing is driven by unique characteristics, the marketing evaluation process follows that of traditional media planning.  

 

When embarking on a social media marketing plan, marketers must consider the following points:   

1.  Social Media Marketing is Particularly Well-Suited to Building Brand Affinity

Estee Lauder created a powerful and actionable social media marketing campaign, where they encouraged women to try new products and have a makeover done at department store locations. Sounds ordinary? Well, post-makeover these women were photographed — and the photo was uploaded to the social networking site of their choice.  

Estee Lauder: Social Media Marketing to Women

There are fewer examples of social media driving sales.  Dell is probably the best known example.  Reuters reported that Dell attributes more than $3 million in sales to Twitter, where the company has  600,000 followers.  Considering these figures as a sole output of viral marketing, it is clear that  Dell will continue to make headway with its  integrated social media program.  

2.  Understanding  Your Target and Whether They Actively Participate in Online Social Networks are Equally Important

One of the best examples of understanding the target consumer comes from  Sears.com. The online retailer created a website for teenage girls called “Prom Premiere.” On the site, girls are encouraged to use Facebook applications and email to share photos of prom dresses with family and friends. This initiative demonstrates a concrete understanding of the target audience, as well as the purchase decision process for prom dresses.  

Sears: Prom Dress Sharing via Facebook

  

3.  Social Media Campaigns Require Scalability and Measurement

How do brands develop scalable initiatives? Take Nike’s  “Nike Human Race,” which leveraged Nike’s legacy of sponsoring local races and supporting running training programs.  By rallying an international community of devoted athletes, Nike converted 40% of previous non-consumers after only one year, and had 800,000 runners participate in the 2008 race.  

The “Nike Human Race” is clearly scalable and impactful in long-term brand building. The next level of scalability is understanding how the program translates into sales. Digital campaigns are more easily measurable, more timely, and therefore more usable in a yield management model. Put in place precise metrics to measure the marketing ROI on your social media initiative.  

4.  Make Sure There is a Strong Strategic Link to Your Product or Brand

Estee Lauder’s program works because their makeover inspires confidence in the picture a woman posts on LinkedIn or Match.com. Sears Prom Premiere made it interactive and fun to choose just the right dress for prom.  Each brand offered a product that was part of the solution and that made it ownable. 

5.  Nothing is Free – Budget Carefully

Marketers often think of social media as an inexpensive way to build a brand or promote a new product.  While there are a few high profile exceptions, that is generally false. Social media marketing requires the right resources, a budget to seed and then support the program, and time to build.  Like any other marketing campaign, maintaining realistic expectations and timeline will help lead to success.  

What’s the Bottom Line in Social Media Marketing ?

Social media can be an incredibly creative way to engage your customers and help define your brand.  If you haven’t done a social media campaign yet, begin monitoring any large or influential communities where your products or your competitors are frequent topics of conversation.  Identify the role your brand plays in their lives and how you can add value. 

Evaluate your in-house assets –many companies have a wealth of information that can be used to create and syndicate content on highly trafficked sites.  Start small and create a test and learn environment. You will quickly learn what works and should be scaled up.  If you are already actively involved in social media, take a step back and evaluate your program.   It needs to be assessed on it’s own merit and against the channels it is replacing.  It should be just one part of a fully integrated marketing program. 

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Catherine Davis was most recently SVP Marketing at Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic beverage company including Johnnie Walker, Guinness, and Smirnoff.  She is a marketing executive who builds brands and creates new media and marketing models to drive business growth. Catherine is experienced in CPG, financial services, and online businesses and has demonstrated leadership across all marketing functions, including digital.  

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What Drives Branded Integration Success?

February 1, 2010

From my January 19th guest post on Joe Pulizzi’s blog  Junta42:

Instead of using your own content marketing to surround and reinforce your brand, what if you put someone else’s TV program content around it instead ? Branded Integrations, done right, use TV program content to drive your brand. The problem, though, is that most Branded Integrations come about by happenstance and not by use of proven tools and techniques. Here’s how to successfully use Branded Integrations as part of your Content Marketing portfolio.

Branded Integration – A Short History

Branded Integration has a long history, arguably as old as publishing itself.  The Lifesavers brand was integrated into the 1932 Groucho Marx movie “Horsefeathers,” and Spielberg’s “E.T.” featured the first paid candy integration: Reese’s Pieces. National Geographic had a starring role in the 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Reese's Pieces in "E.T." -- the first candy branded integration.

Procter & Gamble and Unilever sponsored soap operas continued the trend. More recently, companies have taken branded integrations even further with video games and even programs designed around TV commercial characters (Geico Cavemen).

Given this long history, it should come as no surprise that Branded Integration is big business: PQ Media estimated 2006 product placement spending at $3.1B.

Is This A Good Idea ?

Being big and being good aren’t always the same thing. Does Branded Integration really work? Certainly, the large spending would lead you to think so. However, the usual process for developing branded entertainment – haphazard and creative driven — often leaves something to be desired. A branded entertainment company executive once explained the process something like this:

“The studio sends us a script. We break it down. We look for our clients demographics and then we tell our client this movie is available with this actor, with this director, with this producer, do you want it?”

Is this really the way companies should be deciding to spend $3.1B a year?

Beyond the :30 spot: Executing Branded Integrations

Beyond the :30 spot: Marketers need criteria for executing branded integrations

What Really Drives Branded Integration Results?

There are four keys to making Branded Integration work as Content Marketing for your brand:

1.  Choose the Right TV Shows – The best way to get high brand recall and brand opinion shift from your Branded Integration is to pick a show that fits with your brand and has high scores historically for Branded Integrations. Predictive models which isolate the factors most impacting brand recall, opinion shift, and fit with brand generally show that over 50% of the models’ variation are driven by TV show selection. Fortunately for Marketers, there are now syndicated panels which measure TV program Branded Integration effectiveness – so you can know a program’s track record ahead of time.

2. Design the Most Impactful Integration – Having selected the right genre and program for your integration, don’t just rely on the network and agency to tell you what the integration will look like. You need to negotiate for what really works. And what works, based on predictive modeling, is the following:

  • Involve Your Brand Longer – The duration of the integration makes a big difference; longer is better
  • Visualize Your Brand Icon – Don’t accept just an audio appearance; your brand needs to be visualized
  • Have Your Product Touched or Worn – It’s key to have characters physically interact with your product
  • Connect Your Brand to a Main Character – Physical interaction is good, but interaction with the main star is even better

These factors have been proven through research to be the most important creative factors in determining brand integration recall and positive brand opinion shift. Make sure that your execution includes them.

3.  Advertise Your Brand During the Program – This seems obvious but is often overlooked. Nielsen IAG research shows that ads aired during a program with the same brand integration generally score better for recall, branding and likeability than the same ads aired outside the Branded Integration program. Said simply, there really is “synergy” between your Branded Integration and your ad in the same program.

4.  Execute Branded Integrations in Multiple Shows in a Season – Continuity is key. If possible, negotiate for a series based branded integration, instead of an episode. Why? Having a Branded Integration in previous episodes of the same series raises brand recall and brand opinion by about 1% per previous episode — for example, take Subway’s series integration in NBC’s “Chuck.”

Subway's integration in NBC's "Chuck" not only increased sales, but saved the series.

Subway's integration in NBC's "Chuck" not only increased sales, but saved the series.

Where Should Marketers Focus ?

Adding Branded Integrations to your content marketing portfolio provides another way to drive engagement with your brand (for more on content marketing, see “Build Your Brand with Content Marketing”). But, don’t just walk blindly into it. Choose the right programs, design the integration for greatest impact, advertise during the program and deliver integrations consistently for maximum impact.

So the next time your Agency calls with their next “BIG” branded integration idea, do your brand a favor. Ask the tough questions: Why is this the right show? How will the execution optimize impact? What’s the proposal for integrating my ads? Is this part of a longer deal? Most importantly, negotiate from a position of strength: use historical data and learnings about what really drives Branded Integration success to add another powerful element to your Content Marketing mix.

 

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