SpirE-Journal 2014 Q1

Do your customers truly remember your brand?

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Do your customers truly remember your brand?

No marketer wants their brand message to be out of sight and out of mind. But with multiple media platforms and so many upstart brands crowding alongside old, established ones, what elements work best to ensure successful brand recall? And how important is recall as a factor in a brand’s success?

Though brand recall is deemed to be one of the most important factors influencing buying decisions, recall alone is not enough for brands to soar. Marketers need to ensure that there is a strong linkage between the advertisement and the brand, so that consumers can connect to the specific brand of a product, rather than the generic product category.

The importance of brand recall

A high brand recall would indicate that the product is easily recognizable. It is more than about recalling the name. It is about connecting the name with the message.

For instance, one would relate Disney with “fun, family entertainment”, Nike with “authentic athletic performance”, and Starbucks with “rewarding everyday moments”.

The iconic Singapore Girl from Singapore Airlines is widely known as well. This icon represents the brand, with its focus on quality and service excellence. Since its inception in 1972, the airline has been consistent in conveying the Singapore Girl and its company slogan, “Singapore Airlines – A Great Way to Fly” in print media as well as TV commercials. A wax figure of the Singapore Girl was put on display at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London in 1994 as its first commercial figure.

Brand recall: More than just one metric

Brand recall refers to the consumers’ ability to recall a brand from a particular product category. A high brand recall is half the battle won; denoting that consumers are more likely to dismiss competing brands with weaker rates of recall.

Marketers have relied on the following indicators to measure brand recall:

Spontaneous brand recall

Spontaneous brand recall – also known as unaided brand recall – implies that consumers are able to name the brand spontaneously when prompted with a specific product category.

Top-of-mind brand recall

Consumers with “top-of-mind recall” for a certain brand can easily articulate the brand without being prompted. Furthermore, top-of-mind recall denotes a stronger emotional linkage between the brand and the consumers.

Aided brand recall

Aided brand recall implies that consumers are only able to recognize the brand after being handed a list of brands; signifying a weak brand image. Chances are, these consumers might have seen or heard about the brand, but it did not register a deep impression.

Benefits of brand recall

With price and other factors being equal, consumers would tend to go with the product brand that they can easily recall at the point of purchase decision-making. Brands with positive recall value derive palpable benefits:

A positive brand recall would be a dominant factor in decision-making during purchase.
A positive brand recall can help consumers better relate to the brands and products; especially when there is no compelling difference from competing offerings.
A positive brand recall with high customer satisfaction would translate into customer loyalty.
Channels to improve brand recall

Marketers can improve their brand recall by focusing on a few vital elements:


A current marketing trend is to push for customized content on image-centric platforms such as Instagram. This would be best suited for brands targeting the youth segment.

For instance, US clothing and accessories retail giant Gap is among the first brands to receive international recognition for using Instagram Direct for a marketing initiative in December 2013. The brand received overwhelming attention merely with a simple strategy: The first 15 early birds who commented on the Gap Instagram challenge would receive a free MacBook bag.

Image-centric platforms like Instagram are best suited for brands targeting the youth segment.


Research indicates that music plays a powerful role in igniting cognition, behavior and memory. According to one study, consumers would have a more pleasant shopping experience when the right music was playing in the background – engaging customers by evoking positive associations and emotions towards the brand.

This is also why the jingle is the most common musical technique used in television and radio advertising. A jingle is a short tune, sometimes coupled with a catchy slogan. For instance, the jingle from McDonalds’, “I’m Loving It” campaign has helped make it the brand’s most successful and longest running campaign. Since its implementation in 2008, the company’s share price rose 80% from April 2008 to April 2013 and its profits soared by 20%.

The jingle is the most common musical technique used in television and radio advertising.

Type-in advertisements

A type-in advertisement requires the consumer to key in specific information to access the desired content. Marketers can easily manipulate such type-in ads and make the consumers enter a simple message related to the brand; substituting the traditional CAPTCHA images and pre-roll video ads.

Furthermore, type-in ads are applicable to two crucial platforms – mobile advertising and online media. According to a 2011 study, type-in ads provided a boost in brand recall by 65%, and message recall by 35%. Compared to static advertisements, the result is a two-fold boost for brand recall and a 12-fold boost for message recall!

An example would be the responsive Solve Media type-in mobile ads by Songza and Unilever. The consumers only needed to input answers to brand-related questions using the type-in CAPTCHAS to gain access to the content on their computer tablets and smartphones.

Social media

This is a powerful medium that allows marketers to reach out to customers cheaply, enabling them to test the waters before investing in costly advertising. It can be used to build brand trust.

Marketers can even strategically use this medium to develop likeability for their brands. Whilst keeping the consumers engaged, marketers can also post subliminal marketing messages online which could influence consumers’ buying decisions.

For instance, South Korean conglomerate, LG Mobile, launched a Twitter campaign with an exclusive hashtag, #LGTicketHunter in June 2012 to enhance the sales of their L-series smartphone. As a result, 50,000 tweets were received at the end of the campaign, and smartphone sales quadrupled amongst the 16 to 24 year old age bracket.

Similarly, chocolate brand Cadbury announced its new variant, Cadbury Dairy Milk Bubbly, on Google+ Circles in early 2012. Soon after, the new chocolate variant was unveiled on Facebook, and garnered 516 likes and 181 comments as of January 2012, which meant thousands of users may have received updates in their newsfeed.

Social video recommendations

Studies have shown that recommended brand-led videos are more likely to engage users, encouraging brand recall. The online content can be in the form of newsfeed, a blog post or video. These recommendations may come from peers, news sources or blogs related to the advertisers’ content. Moreover, it was found that viewers tend to enjoy a recommended video more as compared to any random content chanced upon via general browsing.

In 2013, online video viewers in the US aged between 18 and 34 were surveyed on four social video campaigns from Guinness, Coca-Cola, Unilever’s Cornetto and Energizer Batteries. Survey results showed that the viewers had enjoyed the recommended social videos more than the non-recommended ones. Furthermore, 14% of viewers were found to watch more of these recommended videos versus those who came across the video via casual browsing.

What lies ahead

To survive and succeed in the market, brand recall remains as vital as ever. Tactics such as jingles will continue to be used now as they were 50 years ago. But what has changed is the role of interactivity and the role of recommendations in building engagement and trust respectively.

As the 21st century rolls on, the successful marketer will need to blend music, social media and social video recommendations in their outreach. And what would be the next frontier? Taking that blend into the realm of mobile devices, wearable technology and the internet of things.

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