The biggest mistake I see businesses making in regards to their advertising is that they don’t understand what it is that makes people remember, react to and ultimately purchase their products & services. The answer to that question is MEMORABILITY.
Potential customers have to be able to remember a name and be able to retrieve it when they’re ready to purchase that product. Period. That’s it. They don’t even necessarily have to LIKE a product or remember it in a positive light. Likeability does play a part, but it is far more important that people be able to connect to and retrieve a product name when they are ready to spend their hard-earned dollars. It only matters if they LIKE your product if they happen to be able to remember more than one item in a product category. And in that case it’s not as much if they LIKE it as it is HOW FAMILIAR THEY ARE WITH IT.
For example, if I go online to look for and purchase a book, I have to be able to “retrieve” or remember the name of some book before I can buy it. I may really want a particular book, but if I can’t retrieve that book’s name when I’m ready to buy, then that doesn’t matter. I have to be able to remember and retrieve that book’s name at the time of purchase or I’m going to buy some other book. The same applies to appliances, electronics, restaurants, grocery store food, cars and most other products (including YOURS). You can talk about your product until you’re blue in the face, but if there is no easy way for your target client to remember your product name and to file it away for later retrieval, then you might as well just forget it .
If a potential client can remember your product name PLUS some other competitive product’s name, then that is when it becomes important for them to have a sense of familiarity with your product. That’s also why “frequency” plays an important role in advertising, because it helps people to graduate from being able to remember your product name, to having a sense of familiarity with it. They have to have heard your product name multiple times and SEEN some visual element that they can associate with that name, in order to be able to retrieve it at will. IF THEY DO, then later when they’re ready to buy something and they see that visual element again, they’ll be more likely to select the more familiar product over another. So in other words, if they can remember the names of two potential new products, they’ll buy the one that they’ve SEEN more often and developed a sense of familiarity with, even if they don’t know much about the details or benefits of one product over another.
This point has been proven when products have had negative publicity, but have still gone on to become prosperous brands. For example, back in the early 80’s Tylenol was part of the original “cyanide” scare when someone inserted that poison into the product’s capsules. It wasn’t long after that event, that most people couldn’t remember that negative publicity, but they could remember the name “Tylenol”…ultimately launching it into becoming a power house consumer brand.
Moral of the story: Make sure you have a name that people can remember and HELP them to remember it by creating some visual element that you can repeat throughout your advertising materials in order to establish memorability and develop familiarity. Pictures or visual metaphors can foster an immediate understanding of information and create more efficient retrieval from memory”
¹Kim Levine, LJN’S Legaltech Newsletter, Vol. 24, No. 3, June 2005; “Are they getting it?”