What’s salience and how can it help your brand get noticed?

To put it simply, Salience just means how noticeable something is in its environment. The red letter in a stack of white post, the orange in the apple cart, the bright green cycle lane on the grey road – you get the idea. Read the blog to find out how you can use salience to create cut-through. 

It all comes down to, you guessed it, behavioural science. When it comes to human cognition, our attention span is limited. And with objects in our physical, or more so now virtual, environment constantly competing for our attention we tend to notice what’s most prominent.

In comms, a good example is a newspaper headline, it’s noticeable because it’s bigger and bolder than the rest of the text. Or a map, its details are visually distinctive depending on the different colours or lines that have been used to represent them. 

Seems simple right?

Definitely. But you’d be surprised how often this simple thinking is overlooked in marketing and creative work. 

How to get started with salience

Next time you create comms, ask yourself “What’s most salient in this piece?”

Then ask yourself, “What should be most salient?”

Once you’ve found what you should make salient, there are some simple things you can do to increase it. Like amping up bold, impactful imagery and colours, or using larger, bolder or more distinctive fonts. Even things like symbols are great to increase recognition. Whatever highlights the most important part of the page best. 

NB: it also gives you a great get out of jail free card when you’re asked to “make the logo bigger”. 

Some nice examples of how brands have used salience

Aldi Likes Brands, Anchoring,

Aldi used a simple coloured box device to create salience in their humorous ‘Like Brands, Only Cheaper’ ads, drawing the eye to the main message - the price comparison.

Deliveroo Eat More Amazing campaign

Deliveroo knew exactly what they were doing with this ad. The most salient part is the burger and the turquoise brand colour. Creating an instant shortcut - and making you pretty darn hungry.

Using behavioural biases to increase salience to create cut-through. 

You may also want try out using cognitive biases to increase salience. Cognitive biases are systematic errors in thinking that happen when we process and interpret information. They then go on to impact the judgements and decisions we make. There are hundreds of cognitive biases, but here are our top picks to increase salience in your marketing:

Von Restorff effect

When similar objects are present, people are more likely to remember an object that differs from the rest. In a bucket full of green apples, you’re more likely to remember the red one – and you’ll be more drawn to it too. Think about how you can design or language to make what you need to get across stand out.

Humour effect

When something’s funny, witty or a bit bonkers it boosts people’s memory. This is known as the humour effect, proving that humour in spoken, written or visual comms will increase attention and improve retention. For example we all remember that Old Spice ad, there’s nothing inherently funny about after shave, but the brand got creative which made for a memorable campaign. 

How salience helped Certas Energy to increase sign-ups for their services

Certas needed to create a suite of pricing packages that encouraged customers to sign up for additional services.

Firstly, we looked the motivations behind why customers would sign up for the services. We removed friction for the purchase process and used behavioural biases that relate to pricing and value to steer customers towards a particular package. We then used behaviour-led design techniques to increase salience and influence decision-making on the basis of the value of each package.

Certas case study

Fancy a chat about what behavioural-led design could do for your brand?

If you’d love to find out what behavioural-led creativity can do for your brand, we’d love to hear from you. We deliver everything from insights, strategy and brand building, to big ideas and tactical execution. Contact us here.

By Tamsin Scott

Head of Marketing