Building Stronger Brands

Brands exist in a constantly changing world. But the role brands play in people’s lives has not changed and people themselves change more slowly.

The author(s)

  • Gailynn Nicks Ipsos Connect, UK
  • Dave Hannay Ipsos Laboratories, UK
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There is ample evidence to show that, even when conditions are in constant flux, the way humans gather and process information and make choices is more constant. For businesses, understanding people provides a relatively stable strategic anchor. There are also significant new approaches based on neuroscience and behavioural psychology that mean we know more about human decision processes than ever before.


Many of the questions businesses ask about their brands boil down to “how well are we doing” and “how can we do better?” Answers to these questions start with people. Specifically, why do they choose brands and how can brands influence people to choose them more? Put quite simply, brands that are successful are chosen by more people, more often, more easily.


To achieve this, brands must be closely associated with people’s changing needs, knowing what they stand for and the motivating and credible part they play in people’s lives. And brands must be able to both understand and leverage the way in which people make choices.


What do we know about how people make choices?

People have more choices than ever, but this complexity, abundance and continual bombardment have consequences; attention deficit being one. Our brains have to find ways to deal with the overload.


The actions brands take to influence choices can leverage either or both processes - a combination of emotional or automatic and cognitive or reflective processing -, depending on the brand’s objective: for instance, to disrupt the status quo or to reinforce emotional connections.


How do people think about brands?

Brands exist in people’s minds as a network of thoughts, feelings, images, stories, associations, colours, sounds, symbols and memories. It is a unique associative memory structure that is formed based on all the interactions someone has with a brand.


If brands want to create or reinforce these mental networks, then the greater the quality and quantity of prominent mental cues, the greater the likelihood that a consumer will build associative memory structures around the brand so that they will notice, recognise or think of a brand when making choices. Think of how well Apple has created a coherent, rich and dense mental network where products, look and feel, user experience and the positive memories of Apple retained in people’s minds all work together to form a strong and synergistic whole.


How do we choose a brand?

In summary, successful brands are chosen by more people, more often and more easily.


Salient brands come readily to mind in the moments that matter. They have strong brand networks or associative memory structures, so they are naturally retrieved in a fast-processing, automatic decision environment.

  • Brands must fulfil the key motivational criteria for selection, which include meeting functional and emotional needs and creating connections.
  • And they must have the highest perceived value at the moment of choice, compared with alternatives.
  • This includes being perceived as the choice of least effort. One of the basic shortcuts (or heuristics) people use in choosing brands is the availability heuristic. The more easily people perceive that they can obtain one option vs. another similar option, the more likely it is to be selected.


The Ipsos approach to measuring brand equity incorporates these key principles

Brand Desire is about building strong mental networks for the brand and measures the core aspects of choice: brand saliency and brand relationships that ensure the brand ranks first in as many choice situations as possible. This applies even within a repertoire on any single purchase occasion.


It is important for brands to be perceived to be easy to choose. Market Forces are the actions taken by a company that result in increasing or decreasing the likelihood of being perceived as the choice with the least effort and that includes least outlay financially.

  • Measuring Brand Desire: to grow, a brand must first be considered.
  • Linking this with Brand Outcomes: when we combine the number of brands considered and their ranking, we can show a direct relationship with overall market share.


In summary

  • Our approach incorporates all the latest thinking in neuroscience and behavioural psychology with a validated market approach and clear actions that lead to brand growth.
  • The metrics we deliver provide the information you need to take the right actions for brand growth. We diagnose in detail how well brands perform on each of the key aspects of Brand Desire and Market Effects. These can be analysed against the market average or wave-on-wave in order to understand which actions would have the greatest brand impact.

The author(s)

  • Gailynn Nicks Ipsos Connect, UK
  • Dave Hannay Ipsos Laboratories, UK

Media & Brand Communication