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“I am remembered therefore I am”

17 oktober 2017 Malte Olsson

Business owners, online marketers and brand managers all have struggled with how to get people to buy their products or services. If you are one of them, you are probably thinking about it right now. Is there a way to solve this? Yes and the only thing you have to do is to get people to think of your brand. Simple right? No! But do not lose faith. In this blog, I am going to explain why thinking about your brand is important and how you can get people to remember your brand.

Why is being distinctive important?

Seth Godin1, marketing wizard, has a brilliant analogy about the purple cow. Imagine you are driving along a countryside road. You see a white cow eating grass. As you continue, you see two brown cows. Further down the road 10 cows are chilling in the sun. As so on. After a while, you stop noticing the cows doing their thing in the field. Until a purple cow stands next to the road. Also eating grass and behaving just like the other cows. But this cow is purple (distinctive) and you just have to stop and look further and find out what makes that cow so special. The moment you saw the purple cow, your brain created a memory link between purple and cow. I will get back on why memory links are so important.

Your potential customer needs to quickly notice, recall, and recognize your brand in comparison with other brands. Because when a customer is considering buying he usually has a list of brands, a repertoire, to select from and you want your brand to be on that list. Preferably at the top.

If your brand does and looks like everything else, you are just like everybody else and therefore not distinctive. Maybe you are not even visible for the customer. Being distinctive is being visible. If you can be excellent in being distinctive, people are going to remember you and they are even going to tell their friends about you.

By defining distinctive elements and attributes such as colors, logos, slogans and symbols you can build and plant your brand’s memory links. That is the way your brand can qualify into a customer’s brand repertoire and make a customer think of your brand in a buying situation. Byron Sharp2 calls this a brand’s mental availability.

Building a memory structure

Connect the dots

Simplified, your brain consist of nodes of information and memories. Sometimes the nodes are connected and you have a memory link. This means that when you are thinking of Coolblue3 you are probably thinking of a webshop and the color blue, (not only from the name but also from Coolblue’s visual identity color - blue).

Memory structure Coolblue

Memory structure Coolblue

You also might be thinking about their ambitious work with customer service, clever humor and their slogan “Alles voor een glimlach” (“Everything for a smile”). These attributes work both ways and are a part of your memory structure for Coolblue. For each person these structures and attributes are different depending on how each independent brain is wired from experience and learning.

The big task for a brand manager or a marketing team is to make sure that as many people as possible have a similar memory structure and preferably as many memory links as possible. For example, when anyone in the Netherlands is coming across the name Coolblue he or she should at least think of “webshop”. Not all customers are going to have the exact same memory links, but by building memory structures you can plan and decide what you want the customer to remember.

Memory links makes a strong brand

The strength of a brand can be measured by the quantity and quality of memory links to and from a brand. The quantity is the number of associations, the more the better (Note: adding a brand association and building a new memory structure is a long-term project). The quality is the strength of the association and the relevance of that association in a buying situation. By increasing the amount of memory links, you have a good chance of increasing the number of people thinking of your brand and the number of times each customer thinks of your brand as a buying option.

Build and refresh memory

A brand needs to build and refresh memories so customers can remember the brand in a buying situation. The following is paramount when building memory structures of a brand:

  • What the brand name is
  • What the brand looks like (colors, logo, font, etc.)
  • What the brand does
  • Where it is sold
  • When and where it is consumed or used

Other important dimensions are:

  • How does it make me feel using the brand?
  • How does the brand behave?
  • How does the brand talk?

For a new brand, the mission is to build these memory structures. This is the only way to get people to think of your brand. When people are thinking of your brand you need to keep refreshing that memory. Even an established brand as Coolblue keeps reminding people that their name is Coolblue; the colors are blue and orange. In videos and other advertising, Coolblue reminds people that it is a webshop and that people can buy everything they need. The slogan; ”Alles voor een glimlach” is repeated over and over again. Even on a coffee cup; Coolblue is consistent with name, color and a touch of their human personality and humor.

 For Coolblue this did not happen overnight. It has been and still is a long-term project; consistently building memories and refreshing to increase the mental availability. The likelihood for a Dutch buyer to consider Coolblue in a buying situation is very high. Your mission is to build your own memories and consistently refresh those memories on your brand touch points. This probably leaves you with the question: what memories should I build? Answer: the ones that makes your brand distinctive, unique and at the same time desirable.

How to get people to think of your brand

  1. Know who you are, why you matter and why anyone should believe you.
    Before you can start building memories, you have to know the answer to these three questions.
  2. Know what makes you distinctive and desirable.
    Find the attributes that makes you distinctive. Think about your visual identity attributes such as colors, logo, etc. What is the reason(s) to buy?
  3. Build and plan a memory structure.
    Make an overview of your brand. Do your customers already have memory links to and from your brand? What should you amplify, what not?
  4. Build and refresh the memories on all brand touch points.
    Make a strategy of where and what to communicate. Which memories should you build on which touch point? It could be the same, but it could also be different depending on, for example, target audience.
  5. Increase your brand’s mental availability by refreshing the memories and being consistent.
    Think about that Coca Cola has been reminding us that it is a refreshing drink for more than 100 years.

If you also want people to think of your brand, call us: 024 - 329 77 78. We are happy to help you.


Malte Olsson
Brand strategist


1 Seth Godin is an American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker.
2 Byron Sharp is Professor of Marketing Science at the University of South Australia. Author of “How brands grow what marketers don't know” and “How Brands Grow - Part 2”.
3 Coolblue is a Dutch e-commerce company.

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