How to master brand recall

Jane Hassett 16.06.2015

In a recent HBR interview, UCLA professor Alan Castel shared the results from a recent study carried out by he and his colleagues. Out of 100 students surveyed, only one could accurately draw the Apple logo, despite a large number being Apple users. How could something so prolific and iconic be so hard to reproduce?


Students attempt to redraw the Apple Logo (

While there are plenty of studies on recall of images showing strong results, in the age of multi channel integrated marketing communications, there's a saturation of messaging occurring. Consumers are being bombarded with so many stimuli on a constant basis, it can cause them to focus on only parts of a message and forget or ignore other more important parts. Castel uses the example of the location of fire extinguishers in an office. Workers know that they are there, but not their exact location. Part of the message is received, but not the most important part.

A number of months ago I attended a presentation by London agency 'Hey Human', hosted by IAPI here in Dublin. Their SXSW presentation on neuroplasticity and how advertisers can capitalise on tapping into brain function to increase retention ties in nicely to this. Hey Human posed a number of beautifully simple techniques to achieve this, but the one that stuck with me the most can be summed up by the following (grainy) video:

How many of you could, before seeing this video, redraw or even list the key colours of a Club Biscuit? Now how many can, without much difficulty, sing the jingle? Hey Human listed sound as one of the keys to unlocking recall, be it loud attention grabbing noises, or a catchy infectious theme tune. It's ironic to think that with so many new interactive technologies and methods of communication, that really what it comes down to is the mastering of the basic fundamentals of communication.

One of the main reasons I remembered this part of the presentation over others was that the presenter omitted a single, very loud clap, immediately capturing the attention of the entire crowd. He did this unexpectedly, thereby amplifying it's effect. It was this unexpected, most basic sound that caused me to remember and retain the information he was communicating. For those few minutes, he had my complete and undivided attention. 

So what does this mean for marketers? While its crucial to have a strong and consistent brand, including identity and logo, it's how this is used that has the greater impact. Nothing new or shocking there, but with so many communications channels, new technologies and methods to interrupt people's lives and thought patterns, the key learning that I've taken away from this is to keep it simple! Marketing communications need to be easy to process and understand, and those communicating it need to have a better understanding of how the mind works, or metacognition as Castel describes it. If you combine this with a key consumer insight, then you have something really powerful.

At Morgan McKinley we're interested in the future of marketing, we understand marketing and we're discreet when guiding marketers through their career trajectory. If you're interested in progressing your Marketing career, feel free to get in touch

Originally published on LinkedIn by Andrew Shortt, Marketing Executive at Morgan McKinley.

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