If a picture is worth a thousand words, so are brand codes.
It’s funny how many of us in Adland will laud Bryon Sharpe’s “How Brands Grow”, yet so few will actually practice what he preaches? Key Brand Assets (KBAs), those ownable and profit driving devices, are an integral part of a brand’s arsenal. So why do we view them as straight jackets, archaic and barriers to modernisation.
Forgive them Sharpey for they do not know what they do.
Mark Ritson recently wrote about the importance of brands codes (KBAs) in praise of Mastercard’s decision to drop the name from its logo. The renowned marketer spoke eloquently about codes being “sensationally important to a brand in achieving distinctiveness in the market”. He bemoaned that fact that so many agencies are reluctant to emphasis their KBAs and implored them to buck this trend by peppering all their tactical work with these symbolic and graphical devices.
Well Ritson, this is one creative shop you can leave off your naughty list.
We accept that attention is a commodity in short supply. People are bombarded and preoccupied with tweets, dms and Kim K’s latest post. So, as hard as it is for us to accept, the comms we create are not often at the top of people’s mental priority list. Levels of cognitive overload are at an all time high so communications need to be as connective and effective as possible to cut through in a split second.
Using neuroscience and behavioural economic principles, we endeavour to create ‘Brainkind’ content that takes into account our behavioural and cognitive biases. The result of this is our 3 R’s framework that we use to make brands; Recognised, Resonant and Relevant.
The first pillar of our busy brain busting creative framework is ‘Recognised’. This is all about making sure that the audience ‘recognises’ the image or copy in front of them by ensuring we use an element, preferably a number of elements, that already sit in the consumer’s memory bank in one form or another. Brand codes are just one of example of this, but this could also be a universal frame of reference, a familiar trope, or even just typography. Although some of these recognisable elements are not ownable or distinctive, they are familiar, and familiarity is good thing!
Behavioural economics tells us that we are hard wired to love what we already know. This is because familiarity equals safe. Safe equals comfortable. And being comfortable means, we can stick to our preferred system 1 processing. #winning.
But we don’t stop there. We use two more techniques to ensure that our works cuts through.
Our work also has to be ‘Resonant’. This is about how we stimulate different senses at once to engage more working memory. You can achieve this by using evocative language like KFC’s ‘Finger lickin’ good’ – this reflects a physical sensation and so is more likely to be more memorable. Other techniques include the use of people’s faces. We mirror people’s emotions – following where they are looking and feeling the emotion they are expressing.
Finally, we also endeavour to create ‘Relevant’ work. This is about tailoring the communication to be relevant, based on more fleeting, shallow connections and meeting the mind-set of people on a specific platform. On Facebook this could mean placing brand assets at the front of a video to prime people towards the brand, even if they don’t click on it. For YouTube it means thinking about a creative piece that works in the first five seconds.
Our 3R’s framework ensures our work connects with people in the busy, time poor, system 1 world in which we exist. So this bunch of creatives are certainly a fan of Mastercard’s logo change!
Want to find out more about how you can make your brand more Brainkind?