The other day, while watching TV with my roommate, a commercial with the cute and well-known Pillsbury Doughboy came on. We both laughed at the 30-second spot…but for different reasons.
The ad I’m referring to features a giggling Pillsbury Doughboy going through security at an airport. The spot is a part of GEICO’s current “Happier than a…” series. In response to the unique brand crossover—car insurance meets baked goods—I chuckled, “It’s cool that they did that.”
My roommate looked at me in confusion. “Did what?”
“That was a GEICO commercial.”
“What? I thought it was for Pillsbury.”
I’ll admit, yes, I do pay more attention to advertisements than the average non-marketing-careered individual—but the fact that GEICO’s audience (my roommate) didn’t even realize she was being marketed to with an (assumably expensive) commercial is not a good thing.
This got me thinking about other brands making the same mistake. I so often see brands with advertisements that focus too heavily on entertainment and not on providing actual information or awareness.
Think about it. How many times have you remembered an advertisement but could not remember what the brand was? For instance, when it comes to cars, beers or paper towels—for me, everything just seems to blend. The problem is that they all have similar brand identities and the same message: better mileage, greater taste, more absorbent. With so much similarity, it’s easy for consumers to get brands mixed up—and this is not effective marketing.
So how do you improve your brand’s advertising impact and recognition?
1. Have strong and clear messaging.
Regardless of your marketing medium, if you are putting a message out into the world, it should be thoughtful, purposeful and strategic. How you choose to execute that message is up for creative grabs.
Take Subway for example. Their strategy is to position themselves as a healthy fast food option. To do this, all their marketing boasts about freshness and portion sizes. (“Eat fresh.”) They even have a roster of celebrity athletes on their team to support Subway’s active and fit lifestyle.
Whether you like it or not, this works. You know who Subway is and what they sell. Their advertising message is consistent—even when their creative execution changes.
2. Be different, memorable…and relevant.
Since marketing is a must-have for all successful businesses, it’s natural that marketing channels get flooded with an overwhelming amount of content. The best way to find your way out of the clutter is to be different. Sure, that’s what everyone says. But that’s only because it’s true.
Like I mentioned earlier, the beer industry is a great example of not being different. Every ad looks identical to each other: a bunch of dudes being “funny,” a stereotypical hot girl and of course, a great party that needs beer. Boring and expected.
Oddly enough, the beer marketing that does stick out to me is Coors. Why? Because a giant train comes smashing through everything (usually a party), bringing a wintery wonderland of ice-cold beer! This, my friends, is different and memorable. It’s also relevant to the Coors brand differentiator of coldness—making their marketing effective and their brand recognizable.
3. Develop a consistent pattern.
Brains like familiarity. Whether it’s a brand name, logo or colors, our cognitive minds process through patterns. Patterns are the way our brains perceive actions, thoughts, memory and behavior to ultimately inform belief.
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Why? Patterns and consistency. No matter where or how they are marketing, the messaging will always revolve around spreading happiness and always feature their trademark colors, red and white. And during the holidays, if you see a polar bear…you think Coca-Cola.
Now consider GEICO. When you think of GEICO, what do you think of? A gecko? A caveman? Guys playing guitar? Eddie Money?
Although there have been marketing patterns within each series of GEICO ads, the problem is, there are too many campaigns. This might be the cause of my roommate’s GEICO/Pillsbury mix-up. She was probably oblivious to the “Happier than a…” ad we watched because she wasn’t familiar with this new campaign’s pattern.
4. Know your audience.
A recent study found that 71% of respondents said they are most likely to remember an ad if it’s funny, with 12% preferring educational, 8% sexy, 4% serious and 3% patriotic.
So what does this mean for your marketing? Do you have to be funny?
No. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s more important to be relevant. When it comes to what an advertisement should do, 31% of respondents said they should “make me aware of new products,” 20% believe they should “educate me” and 14% say they should “relate to me.”
If funny doesn’t fit your brand, don’t be funny. Your biggest priority should be to inform your audience. Whether funny, serious or patriotic, your second priority should be finding an appropriate and creative way to inform them.
5. Once is not enough.
The more they see it, the more they know it and the more likely they are to engage with it. By repeatedly viewing a brand’s name, consumers are not only becoming more familiar with that brand but also subconsciously storing it in their mind as a future source.
This top-of-the-mind marketing strategy is build from repetition. For example, it is better to direct mail 12 times to the same 2,000 qualified prospects than once or twice to 20,000 or 25,000 different prospects. This selective marketing not only saves extraneous effort, time and money but also increases profits significantly.
But repetition doesn’t have to be stagnant and limited to one medium—it can be across different channels or executed in multiple ways (as long as the message is consistent).
A recent Nielsen research study demonstrated that planning and running video ads online prior to TV boosts brand recall for that same ad playing on television by 33%. There were similar gains when it came to online display ads, with consumers 25% more likely to recall the brand if they had seen the display ad before seeing the ad on TV—proving that once is not enough in marketing.
If your brand is lacking in the recall department, let us know. BatesMeron can help add impact to your brand through relevant messaging, strong strategy and, of course, brilliant creative.
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