A brand is the sum of its assets.
Any marketing executive will know the importance of getting your branding right with huge budgets spent on the design and creation of a brand identity.
But a brand is more than just a name or a logo.
Any non-brand name element that is uniquely linked to the brand in the memory of most consumers represents a distinctive brand asset. There are no limits on what or how many assets a brand can have – they can encompass language, colours, sounds, fonts, characters, shapes, symbols and fragrances to name a few. Take Coca-Cola for example, where the font is almost as synonymous with the brand as the name itself. So much so, that any word written in the same font is still uniquely identifiable as belonging to Coca-Cola.
Increasingly we are seeing that non-visual assets such as sounds and scents are becoming more and more relevant to brands. Whilst auditory assets have long existed, such as the unmistakable sound of a Nokia phone or a Windows computer powering up, the growth of voice-interface devices such as Amazon’s Echo has meant that brands such as Amazon also need to consider their literal voice and how it is presented to consumers.
The value of these brand assets is that they become shortcuts to the brand, triggering specific memory structures in the minds of consumers. These memory structures facilitate brand recognition and decision-making. It represents an important and rich source of creative input for branding and marketing teams who can leverage these assets across different touchpoints to maximise recognition. In communications this can be achieved through implementing cues that echo particular assets such as colours or symbols.
But how are assets created and how does a brand know what assets it has?
This is where reaction time testing, an implicit tool, can be utilised so effectively as it can measure the strength of any distinctive assets. In addition to determining the assets that consumers agree at an explicit level identify the brand (traditional research), reaction time testing will indicate the strength of these associations between the asset and the brand through measuring the speed of response. The faster the response the stronger the connection in the brain and more ownership the brand has over the particular asset. The strength of this association will reveal the power of this creative element to become an asset for the brand.
Specsavers have clearly recognised the power of ‘should’ve’ in their campaigns (as per their recent successful trademark application) in much the same way as Carlsberg trademarked ‘probably’ with their font. Furthermore, love him or hate him, GoCompare soon realised the value of Gio Compario by bringing him back from the dead.
But that’s not to say an asset can be relied upon to continuously generate successful campaigns. Its application to the brand must be used consistently over time across touchpoints that will reinforce the memory structures and the brand identity in order to achieve long term impact.
Reaction time testing can be used not only to understand the assets already owned by a brand, but also in discovering new assets that brands could potentially own in the future, such as a voice or maybe even a hashtag. It is a known truth that utilisation of hashtags increases engagement with a brand, so why not convey a brand asset directly through a hashtag? Due to the popularity of the platforms that hashtags run on, phrases owned by particular brands can become viral through sharing and liking by users of similar interests. Visual exposure of a brand asset on popular social media sites will trigger the network of associations in the brain, leading to recognition of the products. So surely one question remains, why Just Do It, when you can #justdoit?
Brand asset research represents a new but growing application of reaction time testing. The ability to blend existing and new techniques that push the boundaries of what we can understand about consumer decision making will help brands to create more intuitive customer experiences and more intuitive brands.
By identifying and utilising your brand assets, you are essentially triggering the network of brand associations in your customers’ brains. Whether you light up their screens with a half-eaten apple, or cloud them with a whiff of your signature fragrance in store, implicit brand-related memory structures are being activated. It is vital to understand that a brand is a sum of its assets.
In times where understanding what your consumer wants is just as important as understanding your product, knowing the best methods of how to market, and the best assets of what you are marketing can prove invaluable.
Therefore, whether a business is sticking to its core or seeking to change its image entirely, implicit measures will provide a solid foundation in highlighting how the brand is being perceived, right down to the senses.