Getting top of mind is about being present in the minds of your audience when they are actively in buying mode.

But how can you achieve this?

Brand heuristics plays an important role in the associations we have with brands. Read on to find out how you can achieve top of mind with brand heuristics.

What are brand heuristics?

The word heuristic is derived from a Greek word that means “to discover”. A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows us to make judgements quickly and efficiently. We use the term “brand heuristics” to mean all of the visual and verbal assets of a brand – logos, typography, graphic devices and colour, photography style and sound.

You’ll probably instantly recognise which companies the logos below belong to without seeing the brand name – that’s the power of brand heuristics right there!

How brand heuristics work

Our brains make mental associations using language colour, symbols, sounds and images. You can use these elements to create shortcuts in the minds of your audience.

There are a number of cognitive biases that that you can use to help you build strong brand associations to make your brand more recognisable and easier to recall.

Familiarity bias – We have a tendency to prefer more familiar options, even if they aren’t necessarily the best option for us. This concept is especially important for branding as it can encourage repeat purchases. Consumers use their previous buying experiences as a frame of reference, perhaps unconsciously, and often make the assumption that if the purchase was a good decision on one occasion it makes sense to buy it again when they come to replace the product. An example of this would be the McDonalds golden arches – we see them everywhere and they are immediately recognisable to us, which creates familiarity.

Mere exposure effect – Related to the familiarity bias is the mere exposure effect, where we have a tendency to like something more when we see it more often. To take advantage of this insight you need to consistently amplify your assets to maximise exposure for your brand.

Bizarreness effect – When something is bizarre we are more likely to notice it. You can apply this thinking to naming, colour and other design elements to create truly distinctive branding in your category.

Brands that nail heuristics

Headspace– Meditation app, Headspace, use their distinctive, playful illustration and uplifting colour palette consistently in their branding to make them instantly recognisable.

Innocent – The brand use cleverly language heuristics to build familiarity. They are known for their uniquely witty, informal and playful tone of voice. Lots of brands have tried to emulate this very human approach to language but Innocent make it feel authentic.

Veuve Clicquot – The champagne brand really understand how to “own” a colour as part of their heuristics. Their use of the rich orange colour helps them to differentiate themselves from other champagne brands that typically use greens, browns and golds.

How you can use brand heuristics to achieve top of mind

Identify what you want to be known for – What do you want to demonstrate as brand? The first step in achieving top of mind for your brand is knowing what you want to stand out for.

Uncover your brand associations – What do people think about when they think of your brand? Work out if this aligns with what you want to be known for. We highly recommend using semiotics as part of this process. Just give us a shout if you need some pointers with this.

Kill the assets that aren’t working for you – Look at your existing assets through a critical lens. If they don’t represent what you want them to to your audience then they need to go. Only keep the aspects of your brand that truly differentiate you from other players in your market.

Think behaviourally – Familiarity bias, mere exposure and the bizarreness effect are just a few of hundreds of cognitive biases you can use to make your marketing more impactful. If you’d like to start using cognitive biases but aren’t sure where to start, pick up a pack of our bias cards in our shop.

Fancy a chat about how you can use brand heuristics to achieve top of mind?

If you’d love to find out what brand heuristics 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.