It starts with the category. That’s the way our brains work. We think category first, then brand.
A very contagious disease is spreading rapidly across the globe: infobesity. It’s an epidemic we’ve discussed previously. If information were calories, we’d all be obese.
Infobesity has affected the human attention span. It has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to about 8 seconds in 2015. This coincided with the smartphone revolution. Goldfish, meanwhile, are believed to have an attention span of 9 seconds — longer than people. No kidding. I Googled it. (How easy it is to get information!)
We literally are addicted to our phones and computers — texting, emailing and discovering the latest news and gossip. It’s out of control. We have become obsessed.
Every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization until 2013.
There are 2.5 million emails sent every second. The average American worker spends about 20 hours each week managing email.
Add to that all the advertising messages each of us is bombarded with daily. It’s somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000.
And we expect to get our product or service advertising message into the mind of our customers. Good luck! Successful marketing communication strategy has become a Herculean feat.
How will we possibly cut through this glut of distractions? Should we give up and just save our time and money that we spend on advertising?
In most cases, the right answer is a resounding, “YES!”
The brain has a few gatekeepers, actual physical structures, such as Broca’s area, which keep most stuff it considers useless from getting through to the higher levels of our brain, the cerebral cortex.
In part, the brain acts as a short- and long-term memory storage area for information. That’s only for the information that actually made it through the gatekeepers.
A Marketing Communication Strategy Can Help
To make sense of the world, the brain sorts information into categories — creating some order from all this chaos. Otherwise, there would be just a bunch of random data shooting around the more than 100 billion neurons, which make trillions of connections in each of our brains.
From a branding perspective, we care about these categories. It’s our way in. When a consumer wants to buy something, whether it’s a piece of steel for a car part or a chocolate candy bar, it thinks category first. Then, brand.
Picture a category as a ladder in the brain. So, each category is a ladder. Then, each brand in that category is a rung or step on the ladder. If it’s a low-interest category, it might have only a couple of steps — maybe even one — like for caskets, if that. It’s Batesville, if you’re wondering.
If it’s a higher-interest category — such as toothpaste or beer or cars — it might have several, but usually not more than seven.
Our favorite brand is on the top rung, second favorite on the second rung and so forth. Further, each brand stands for a unique idea or position. In the toothpaste category, one might stand for “fresh breath,” while another might stand for “sensitive teeth” and another, “white teeth” and yet another, “prevents cavities” or “fights gingivitis.”
This idea or position is how it got to be on the rung it’s on. My No. 1 brand might not be yours. So, it makes good sense to come up with the name for your brand that associates with the idea or position it owns on the rung on the ladder in the mind.
What you name your product or service might be the single-most important thing you do. It begins the positioning process.
DieHard is a pretty good name for a battery. It sounds like it’s going to last a long time.
Robinhood is democratizing finance. It’s an app that takes investment out of the hands of the traditional brokers and puts into the palms of the everyday trader.
Zippo is a great name for a lighter. It lights quickly and easily.
Advil is named for advanced pain relief. Barbie is certainly a good name for a doll. Burger King is a fitting name for a place that makes big burgers.
When communicating about your brand, start with the category. It's good marketing communication strategy and that’s the way the mind works. Have a headache? (Hint: That’s the category.) You need advanced pain medicine. You need Advil. (That’s the brand.)