What is Branding Really

“If your goal is to “brand” your product, you’ll need a memorable message and sufficient weekly frequency. Do you have them? Branding is accomplished only when you have a salient message that is repeated with enough frequency to become securely stored in the hard drive of the brain.” - The Wizard 

People say the word "branding" as though it's a mysterious and complex proposition. But when you peel off all the layers of hype, it comes down to this - if Advertising is "getting your name out," then Branding is simply "attaching something to your name." 

A brand is simply the sum total of all the mental associations, good and bad that are triggered by a name. What does your name stand for in the mind of the public? What are the associations triggered by "(fill in your name here)?"

The simple truth is that the advertiser's message, itself, is far more important than the vehicle of its delivery. Successful Branding depends upon your ability to speak to the customer in the language of the customer about what matters to the customer.

The goal of Branding is simply to be the name that the customer thinks of immediately, and feel best about, whenever they, or anyone who they know, needs what you sell. Branding is about the message.

Branding is far from new. Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel Prize for his research into branding in 1904. Remember the story? Day after day, Pavlov would ring a bell as he rubbed meat paste onto the tongue of a dog. The dog soon began to associate the taste of the meat with the sound of the bell until salivation became the dog’s conditioned response. In psychological terms, this is known as, "the implantation of an associative memory." In other words, "branding" in all its glory.

Psychologically branding is to implant an associative memory in combination with a recall cue. What is an associative memory? An associative memory is a memory, which has become linked to another memory. Your favourite song might be linked to the night you met the love of your life. Every time you hear that song, you remember the night.

Or If I say, "It’s a Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) kind of restaurant," you immediately think of the place as being, "wild, over the top, exciting, and loud" right? Your assumptions about the restaurant would be anchored to your feelings about the image of Steve Irwin.

To frequently and consistently associate the restaurant with Steve Irwin would be to implant an associative memory into the mind. Branding.

There are three keys to implanting an associative memory into the mind of the customer:

First Key: Consistency

Pavlov never offered food without ringing the bell, and he never rang the bell without offering food. In other words, Pavlov did not keep changing the campaign. He didn’t say “hmmmm, maybe this here is a visual dog.” He didn’t say, “This ain’t workin’ let’s try something different, the dog don’t seem to get the bell thing.” He knew he would have to be consistent. Never ring the bell without giving the dog meat. Never give meat without ringing the bell. He also knew he was going to have to do it frequently.

Second Key: Frequency

Pavlov did it day … after day … after day … after day. 

Everybody gets Consistency and Frequency when it comes to Branding. Where they always lose out is ANCHORING.

Third Key: Anchoring

When implanting an associative memory, the recall cue (in Pavlov’s case the bell) must be associated with a memory, which is already anchored in the mind. (The dog’s love for the taste of meat.)


Do not tie your rope to something that isn’t already in the heart of the customer. Pavlov’s branding campaign was anchored to the dog’s love for the taste of meat. If the dog didn’t love meat, the frequent and consistent ringing of the bell would have produced no response… OTHER THAN TO IRRITATE THE DOG!

The dog would have said, “I hate advertising. Would you cut it out with the bell?”
Is your recall cue, slogan, positioning statement or other repetitious element tied to an anchor in the heart of your customer? Or are you just irritating the dog? Most people are just irritating the dog...and that’s why so many people say “I hate advertising.” That’s Broca talking. People hate BAD advertising. People hate predictable, boring, cliché advertising. But advertisers love it. They say “I’m paying for all these ads. Let’s talk about me, me, me. My company. My product. My fast friendly service. People should care about ME!” Well, guess what? They DON’T!

If you desire a specific response from the buying public, you must tie your identity to an emotional anchor that's already known to elicit the desired response. If you make such an association consistently and frequently, branding will occur. But don't expect too much too soon. It takes a lot of repetition to train the public. Do you have the patience?

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