What is Brand Association? Meaning & Examples of Associations
“A honey oat sub with chicken teriyaki along with sweet onion sauce, lettuce, cucumber, pepper, double cheese and slightly toasted, all ready to eat fresh” the first thought that might pop in your mind when hearing this foot-long order is probably Subway.
All brands have a different meaning for every individual.
Where people might associate simplicity and a sleek design with Apple's products some consider these characteristics the forte of Samsung's gadgets.
The bottom line is that people associate different concepts and characteristics with every brand they use.
It helps in developing a mental and personal connection between the brand and its potential prospects.
When you think about Nike or Adidas, athletic performance and high-quality athletic shoes are probably the first things to cross your mind even though these two brands manufacture other products as well.
Brand association is all about how people perceive a brand.
Where some brands have the unfair advantage of working on great concepts and ideas like Microsoft, some brands struggle for years to make an impact.
Brands associations are usually brand's qualities and characteristics that deliver the business message and objectives over to the targeted audience and potential business prospects.
Brands nurture these associations and improve the audience's perceptions through innovative marketing tactics and business activities.
It takes only a single appalling review by a journalist to shatter the well-established public perception of any brand.
We have witnessed many brands reaching the heights of popularity and success and then falling in abyss never to re-surface again.
In the same fashion, the brand association is the building blocks of brand identity and its market reputation.
A customer simply doesn't prefer one brand over the other; it's the bond of the customer with the brand that impacts their purchase decisions.
The brand association assists the customers and targeted audience to remember the brands and recall its characteristics which are the key differentiating factors.
Better product quality, a higher standard of customer service, word of mouth marketing are some of the primary examples as to how brands stand out in the crowded business world.
All you need is a heedful brand manager and a strategic marketer to build a strong brand perception and brand association.
Brand association and the customers
There's no denying that brands put in tireless efforts to build a great brand identity.
From fostering the developed brand identity to carrying out multiple marketing and advertising campaigns to reflect the brand's qualities and reinforce the brand identity and associations.
The personality of the brand should give off a positive attitude to develop and improve the brand's values.
Brand association is not just a part of the company's branding strategy.
Coupled with brand awareness, the brand association helps in developing brand equity.
It's all about convincing the customers of your brand's characteristics and qualities which in turn creates a positive impression on the public.
A positive brand association is formed on these bases:
- Quality of the offered products and services.
- Targeted advertisements.
- Celebrity association.
- Customer's relationship with the company and its employees.
- Point of purchase displays.
- Word of mouth marketing.
We live and breathe in a world filled with thousands of brands, and these brands practically live our brains.
When you think of a product your brain instantly connects it to a particular brand name, we treat brands as we treat other humans.
Just as you make friends depending on how they make you feel, in the same way, people perceive a brand based on their experience with it.
Types of brand associations
One of the most common perceptions of brand association is that it is created via visual impressions and elements.
Since humans tend to remember and recall images quicker than words, associating a product to your brand is the widely-used practice of developing public perception and brand association.
A well-planned and thoughtful brand association not only makes the marketing job easy for you but also reflects your brand's objectives and values.
The right choice of colours, images, words and other graphical and marketing elements helps in building brand awareness and association.
That's when the choice of proper brand association method comes into play.
Listed below are some of the commonly known categories of brand association based on different characteristics:
An excellent quality, a distinguishing feature and innovative service or product, a brand association based on such characteristics fall in this category.
Any such feature gets directly associated with the company's products which later helps the potential prospects in recalling the brand via such features and characteristics—while giving the brand an upper hand in the industry and market niche.
If the brand has succeeded in the brand association through its stand-out features and characteristics, it is bound to stay popularised for years.
The name suggests it all, a brand association built on the offered benefits provided by the developed product or service.
These benefits can be functional which refers to the nature and functionality of the product, or it could be related to the feelings of the targeted customers using it.
Also, these benefits can be symbolic in nature and are quite effective in enticing the audience.
Brand association based on advantages contributes a lot to purchase decisions.
Customer feedback and customer experience are critical factors in determining the character and attitude of any brand.
Take the example of one of the biggest apparel brand Nike, which use celebrity endorsements and work with rising sports stars and known athletes.
This strategy has made Nike a brand the choice of the best sports celebrities while reflecting the true values and the winning attitude of the company.
Customers usually buy a product solely because of two reasons, either it's their need, or they are interested in it.
Interest is the core factor that determines the intellect and consciousness of customers.
The chief objective of the brand association based on the interest of the potential customers is to pique the curiosity while generating the attention of the offered products and services in customers' minds.
For that, you can either use celebrity endorsements, or you could go for product placements in movies and promotional videos.
One of the most effective and widely-practised brand association methods is to hire a well-known face of the industry and get your product endorsed by them.
The face of a celebrity is enough to imprint the product and the brand's name in the minds of the targeted audience and potential business prospects.
From CR7 being the brand ambassador of Nike to Roger Federer being the face of Rolex, a brand association based on celebrity is bound to not only increase the conversion rate but it also materialises higher sales and business profits.
How to ensure success in a brand association?
While there is no pre-defined set of rules for the brand association when it comes to making your business a successful brand, use these tips and tricks to build a lasting brand association:
Tweaking your brand identity and making some amends to the brand values and objectives once it has been established is not a bad idea.
Plus once you have a strong and loyal customer base, making changes to your brand logo might confuse your potential customers.
Such confusion can lead your brand to a drastic shrinkage of your customer base and downfall of the company.
Know your target audience
Regardless of how small or huge your business is or how popular your product is, knowing the targeted audience and potential customers is imperative.
A clear idea about your business prospects is not only crucial in making impactful marketing strategies, but it also gives you an idea about how your audience will associate with your brand.
So get a clear understanding of your targeted audience, advertise strategically and use an impactful marketing method to get the successful brand association.
Know your competitors
Knowing who your competitors and what marketing strategies they are using is another way of determining the differentiating factors of your brand.
Additionally, it also gives you a chance to learn from the mistakes of your competitors.
Summing it up
Now that you know what brand association is and how crucial its role is in creating brand awareness and growth.
It's time for you to take hold of the current public perception of your brand and make a list of all those things that might help in creating a good brand association.
Whether it takes the hiring of a superstar or a few amends to your current business strategies and tactics, a brand that is well-associated with its targeted audience and potential business prospects is bound to become a successful one.
A quick suggestion is to analyse all your offered products and different categories of services, know where your target audience is, choose the colours wisely, create a visual language and if all fails – bring in the digital influencers, the unsung heroes of successful marketing and branding strategies.