As part of our no-brainer brand series, we’re taking a look at how brands in the home category can use brand heuristics to increase mental availability. 

A no-brainer brand means that choosing your product or service over alternatives is such an easy and obvious thing to do, your audience do it without even having to think. No-brainer brands have a competitive advantage and benefit from more top of mind awareness, better recall and recognition and increased customer loyalty. What’s not to like?!

One distinguishing trait of a no-brainer brand is its ability to achieve mental availability. A brand’s mental availability essentially means how likely it is that a buyer will recognise the brand and come to think of it in a buying situation. 

Clear brand heuristics are a key part of building a no-brainer brand and can really help to increase mental availability and build shortcuts in consumer’s minds.

What are brand heuristics?

In behavioural science terms, a heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows us to make judgments 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. 

Brand heuristics play an important role in the associations we have with brands. We build heuristics in our creative work to inspire emotion, attention and action and to build shortcuts in consumer’s minds.

Brands that do this well in the home category

Nice examples of strong brand heuristics in the home category include IKEA’s iconic use of the yellow and blue colours from the Swedish national flag, Habitat’s unique device that depicts a heart in a home. And we couldn’t leave out Loaf, if you covered up their logo in their ads you’d still recognise the brand, thanks to the way they so charmingly depict characters sitting, lying (or even standing) on their sofas. The strength of these heuristics really helps to increase mental availability and is a big part of what makes these brands so instantly recognisable to us.

Loaf branding mental availability

Using behavioural biases in brand heuristics to increase mental availability

Our brains make mental associations using language, colour, symbols, sounds and images. There are a number of cognitive biases that you can use to help you build strong brand associations to make your brand more recognisable and easier to recall.

Familiarity bias – We tend to prefer options that are familiar to us, even when they aren’t necessarily the best option for us. This is really important for brands in the home category to consider as it can encourage repeat purchase. As consumers, we use our previous buying experience as a frame of reference, often subconsciously, and we tend to assume that if a purchase turned out to be a good decision previously then it makes sense to buy from the same brand again when the time comes to replace the product. 

Mere exposure effect – In a similar way to familiarity bias, we tend to like something more when we see it often. If you want to take advantage of this cognitive bias, you need to consistently amplify your assets to maximise exposure for your brand. 

Bizarreness effect – When something is unusual to us, or downright bizarre, we are far more likely to notice it and give it our attention. This thinking can be applied to naming, use of colour and other design elements to help you build truly distinctive heuristics. 

How we’ve used brand heuristics for brands in the home category


We helped Sharps, a brand that is hugely successful in the bedroom category, transition to a new space in the home by leveraging their existing heuristics and amplifying them to encourage familiarity among buyers.

Sharps rebrand brand heuristics

Housing Units

We worked with Housing Units to help them win new customers and increase loyalty amongst their existing customers by simplifying and accentuating their brand heuristics including their highly recognisable use of green, the expertise of their staff and their legendary Christmas Grotto.

Want to make it easier for your customers to recognise and choose your brand?

If you want to make it easier for your customers to recognise and choose your brand, we’d love to hear from you. We deliver everything from insights, strategy and brand building, to big ideas and tactical execution. Get in touch with us here.