Understanding the Memories that Build Your Brand

In this article, Ameritest (www.ameritest.com) founder and CEO Chuck Young (chuck@ameritest.com) discusses an innovative way to “see” how brands grow. To schedule an introduction to Ameritest, please email info@ameritest.com or visit our website, www.ameritest.com.

As an advertising researcher, I spend a lot of time thinking about brands. What is a brand? How can advertising build a brand? What makes a brand iconic, and why? And I always come back to the same answer: Memories.

When you think of a brand, you’re really accessing your memories of the brand — be they personal experiences, experiences others have told you about, or communications directly from the brand, such as advertising. And these memories influence your decisions about whether or not to purchase that brand.

So, marketers trying to build a brand need to create advertising that sticks in memory and ties to their brand.

One way to think about how brands grow is through a simple process of accumulation, with memorable advertising moments piling up like grains of sand in the bottom of an hourglass. But a better way to think about the brand-building process is that brands grow like a social network, with the new emotionally-charged moments from recent advertising connecting to branded memories already in the network. This type of associative memory is what Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman refers to as “System 1.”

Marketers often determine advertising success by measuring whether or not a given ad is recalled. Did the ad leave a grain of sand in the hourglass? But that doesn’t really show if, or how, an ad has contributed to a brand’s influence in purchasing decisions. To measure the brand-building effects of advertising, it’s important to measure how new advertising fits into the existing memory network that shapes how consumers think and feel about your brand.

Our most recent innovation at Ameritest mapping how new branded memories from advertising are deposited in existing consumer memory. These Branded Memory Maps show how the new memories are connected to each other, and how they are networked to existing brand perceptions:

When we do this with imagery from multiple ads running on multiple media platforms, advertisers can see which ads have created brand memories that contribute to brand consideration, and which ads have not been effective. When done across an entire competitive set of brands advertising in a category, we’re able to identify the full range of image-types that consumers are responding to in the category.

Branded Memory Maps can help you:

  • Find the brand imagery most highly correlated with motivation to buy your product. This type of imagery can be used in future campaigns to drive purchase intent.
  • Identify images that are highly charged with “stored” emotion. Performance ads can activate this type of imagery to generate urgency.
  • Identify your advertising’s most attention-getting images that drive top-of-mind awareness. The visual themes and characteristics from these images can be used in future campaigns to breakthrough clutter and grab attention.
  • Uncover potential “narrative paths” connecting different image-domains in your category that can provide a narrative framework for future creative development.
  • Learn if there are images that brand users hold in common which bind them into a “community”, and if there are the images that separate users into different subgroups. This can help you tailor your ad campaigns to impact different key audiences.

So, what is the value of Brand Memory Network Mapping? We build these visual road-maps to help our clients win the strategic battle for the consumer’s mind.

By: Chuck Young (chuck@ameritest.com)

Chuck is the founder of Ameritest, an international advertising and brand research company.

For more information on how your advertising can make memorable moments, please visit www.ameritest.com.

Ameritest is research agency that helps brands optimize their strategic positioning, branded communications, and advertising. Learn more at www.ameritest.com