A brand is always instantly recognizable — by definition, a brand is a shortcut in your customers’ heads. This shortcut is triggered by a brand name, a logo, or any other element of the brand’s identity.
What you’re really asking is “How do you create a brand that is instantly recognizable by millions of people?” — because you measure a brand’s strength not by how instantly it is recognizable, but by how many people actually recognize it.
Every entrepreneur would love to see people standing in line to buy his or her product. The first and obvious step towards this is, of course, offering a product or service people would love. Bear in mind that I did not write a high-quality product. Quality is a subjective term, it means different things to different people. A product people love simply keeps the promise of fulfilling one’s needs. The ice cream sold by a walking salesman at the beach doesn’t have to be top-notch — as long as they chill, people will stand in lines to buy them.
There is one more thing company owners often forget. They think that having a great product and telling about it is enough. Yet there is something much stronger than advertising a product: it’s a product that advertises itself. The one that infects others with its mere existence.
I want that, too!
The ice cream on the beach is a great example. You can, of course, see the seller from very far, you can hear him screaming Cold ice cream!, but there is a far greater chance that before he reaches you, you’ll see people eating ice cream. And when you do, you’ll want ice cream for yourself, too, right?
When you walk through a park full of people, you might get infected by plenty of product-related ideas: frisbee, running, a new model of a bike… Such need creation is far more effective than traditional advertising. Especially in groups characterized by strong peer influence, such as teenagers.
Producers have long been aware of that fact and have been modifying their products slightly so that everybody knows when someone is using their product. When Apple produced first iPods, they faced a problem: when you’re using your iPod, it stays in your pocket. But all it took was adding characteristic white ear-buds and you have yourself a viral idea. Nikon One or Beats use a similar strategy.
The science behind the ideas that spread like viruses is called memetics.
Memetic products and services
If you start looking at your products using memetic point of view you’ll soon realize you can make them better by trying to win the attention race. Advertising and marketing strategists are aware of this fact. So next time you plan a product or a service, consider using one of those winning strategies:
- Tradition — if a product or service has always been around, there’s a greater chance people will try to promote this tradition. That’s why Coca-Cola tries to convince us that even your grandfather had it at his dinner table.
- Evangelism — a product that creates a ritual of inviting others to join stands a much better chance of prevailing on the market. That’s why most social networks begin with invite your friends or see who’s already here ritual.
- Familiarity — products that are compatible with what’s already in your head, wallet or house. The language barrier is a great example of overcoming this. If you’re reading this and English is not your mother tongue, the same content would stand a better chance of going viral if it was translated into your own language.
- Explanation — products that explain the way they work in a meaningful way sell better than the ones full of abstract or technobabble. The explanation does not have to be precise, it just has to make sense. That’s why stories or spatial metaphors are so powerful. See the painkillers that precisely target the source of your pain. It’s not how painkillers work, but it’s easy to believe in a targeting pill.
Memetics will not replace traditional marketing or brand building strategy, but adding this knowledge to your arsenal will let you take over the competition. Because the brand happens in the head.
Credit: Paul Skah