Power of Brand Association: How Brands Use Psychology to Win Over Customers

brandemicindia

11/03/2024

25 min read

Brand Association: Definition, Importance, Examples, and Strategies

The world of business is a highly competitive space where brands fight for recognition and customer loyalty. Building a strong brand image is essential for companies to survive and succeed in this challenging environment. One of the most critical aspects of creating a brand identity is brand association, which refers to the mental connections customers make between a brand and certain images, feelings, or ideas. The importance of brand association cannot be overstated, as it shapes customers’ perceptions of a brand, influences their purchasing decisions, and helps create a unique brand identity.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept of brand association, learn its importance, and examine how it manifests in real-life scenarios with examples. But first, let us define the concept of brand association in simpler terms.

What is Brand Association?

What-is-brand-association-Brandemic
Brand association refers to how customers remember a brand, which is primarily based on their experiences and interactions with the brand. Healthy and emotional connections with the people, places, and things related to a brand define positive brand association. To establish a robust and long-lasting brand image, it is essential to cement positive characteristics in your customers’ minds that are linked to your brand. Positive brand association plays a significant role in increasing a company’s value and driving sales.
A brand is recalled by a consumer based on a distinct set of characteristics, experiences, and images that make the brand memorable. This unique set can be an idea, emotion, object, experience, personality, relationship, or image. The relationship between the brand’s offerings and this association may manifest as either tangible or intangible, and it can be established through direct or indirect means. Regardless, it is something that triggers the customer’s memory and recognition of the brand.

Importance of Brand Association

Establishing a positive brand association is a crucial approach that your business should take to create a strong connection between your brand and consumers. If your brand is associated with enjoyable or high-quality experiences, customers are more likely to choose you over competitors who lack such a strong brand association with your clients or might even have negative memories attached to it.
The power of brand associations can lead to brand consideration, and through word-of-mouth, your brand can definitely garner more footfall. Positive brand association not only influences a buyer’s purchase decision but also ensures user satisfaction, thus making it a critical factor for building brand image.
There are three primary reasons why brand association holds immense significance.
Importance-of -Brand- Association

Brand Awareness

Building brand awareness is crucial for any business, and brand association plays an indispensable role in this process. When a customer can associate your brand with a positive experience, an emotion, or any feeling, then naturally that customer will remember your brand over the long run, can recall it easily, and on top of that, recommend your services to other people. This enhances your brand’s reach and image.

Brand Loyalty

Positive Brand associations have a significant impact on brand loyalty. When customers have positive experiences with a brand, they are more likely to become loyal and repeat customers. These associations can be created through various means, such as your brand’s image, the customer service you provide, product quality, and marketing efforts. By consistently delivering on these factors, a brand can establish a strong emotional connection with its customers, leading to increased brand loyalty. The more positive associations a brand has, the more likely it is to gain repeat and loyal customers.

Augmented Cash Flow

Cultivating a strong reputation for your brand can have a significant impact on your business’s financial success. Developing a positive brand association with your target audience can foster loyalty and trust, resulting in a consistent stream of repeat customers who are willing to pay a premium for your products or services. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in revenue over time. Moreover, positive brand associations can generate word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations, further expanding your customer base and revenue potential.

Brand Association Examples

Developing strong brand association strategies has the potential to promptly evoke brand recognition within an individual. Some of the most successful brand leaders have been able to establish positive brand associations, which has significantly influenced how consumers perceive their brands. Here are three examples of these brands that have effectively built these associations.

Apple

apple-brand-association
Over the years, Apple has built a strong and distinct identity that sets it apart from its competitors. As a result, people associate various things, emotions, and memories with the Apple brand. Here are some of the brand associations that people commonly have with Apple:
  • Innovation: Apple has always been at the forefront of technology innovation. From the first Macintosh computer to the iPhone, the iPod, and the iPad, Apple has always brought revolutionary products to the market. This innovation is a crucial part of the brand’s identity and is one of the key brand associations people have with Apple.
  • Design: Apple’s products have gained a reputation for their elegant and simplistic design. From the rounded edges of the iPhone to the clean lines of the MacBook, Apple products have a distinct look and feel that people immediately recognize.
  • Quality: Apple products are highly regarded for their unmatched quality and credibility. known for their high quality and reliability. The brand has built a reputation for producing products that are well-designed, durable, and long-lasting. As a result, people associate Apple with quality and trustworthiness.
  • User Experience: Apple is known for its intuitive and user-friendly products. The brand has always placed a strong emphasis on creating products that are easy to use and understand. As a result, people associate Apple with a positive user experience.
  • Status: Apple products are often seen as a status symbol. The brand’s premium pricing and sleek design have made Apple products desirable to many consumers. As a result, people often associate Apple with luxury and prestige.

Nike

Nike-logo-brandemic

Nike is a global sports brand that has built a robust and distinguishable brand identity. The brand is known for its high-quality sports apparel, footwear, and accessories, and it has established itself as a leader in the sports industry. Here are some of the brand associations that people commonly have with Nike:

  • Swoosh: The classic Nike Swoosh logo was designed in 1971 by a graphic design student named Carolyn Davidson. It is a simple, yet powerful design that represents the speed and movement of athletes. When you catch a glimpse of Nike’s iconic swoosh logo, it instantly triggers thoughts of the brand in your mind.
  • Tagline: The Nike tagline “Just Do It” is another iconic element of the brand. It was introduced in 1988 and has since become one of the most recognizable and successful taglines in advertising history. The tagline is a call to action, encouraging people to take action and pursue their goals, no matter how challenging they may seem.
  • Performance: Nike is a brand that is associated with performance and excellence. The brand’s products are designed to help athletes perform at their best, whether they are professionals or amateurs. As a result, people often associate Nike with high-performance products that help them achieve their goals.
  • Quality: Nike has a reputation for creating products of exceptional quality that are long-lasting. The brand uses top-tier raw materials and innovative technologies to create products that are durable and reliable. As a result, people associate Nike with quality and trustworthiness.
  • Innovation: Nike is a brand that is constantly pushing the boundaries of sports technology. The brand has introduced many innovative products over the years, such as the Nike Air Max, the Flyknit technology, and the Nike Vaporfly. As a result, people associate Nike with innovation and creativity.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola-logo-Brandemic

Coca-Cola is a globally renowned soft drink brand that has created a strong and enduring brand identity over the years. Here are some of the brand associations that people have with Coca-Cola:

  • Coca-Cola Bottle: The classic Coca-Cola bottle is also an iconic element of the brand. The bottle was designed in 1915 by the Root Glass Company and has since become a symbol of the brand’s heritage and tradition. The bottle’s unique shape, with its fluted base and contoured curves, has become an instantly recognizable symbol of Coca-Cola around the world.
  • Iconic Font: The Coca-Cola font is known as the Spencerian script, which was created in the mid-19th century by an American penman named Platt Rogers Spencer. The font’s flowing script, with its curls and curves, has become synonymous with Coca-Cola’s branding and packaging. It is the most common element that people associate Coca-Cola with.
  • Logo: The Coca-Cola logo is one of the most recognizable and iconic logos in the world. The logo’s signature red and white color scheme, combined with its cursive font, has become synonymous with Coca-Cola’s identity and branding. The logo has remained largely unchanged since its creation in 1887 and has become a universal symbol of the brand’s global appeal and popularity.
  • Happiness and Joy: Coca-Cola is known for its advertising campaigns that promote happiness, togetherness, and joy. The brand has often associated itself with special moments, celebrations, and sharing good times with loved ones. As a result, people often associate Coca-Cola with positive emotions and memorable experiences.
  • Refreshment: Coca-Cola’s carbonated beverages are known for their refreshing taste. The brand’s signature cola flavour, combined with its effervescent bubbles, has become synonymous with refreshment. People often associate Coca-Cola with quenching their thirst and enjoying a satisfying and refreshing beverage.

Types of Brand Associations

Think of brand associations as the jigsaw pieces that fit together to form people’s perceptions and emotions towards a brand. These items are shaped differently, leaving a lasting impression on people. Let’s dissect these categories that contribute to a brand’s own personality.

Visual Associations

Have you ever noticed how certain colours or logos instantly remind you of a particular brand? It’s like your brain saying, “Oh, that’s my favourite snack or that cool tech gadget!” Visual associations play a huge part in this process.

Emotional Bonds

Brands are clever; they play on our feelings. Emotional associations make brands feel like old friends, whether it’s the thrill of opening a new device or the feel-good vibes from a nostalgic jingle.

Product Performance

Occasionally, we associate a brand with the effectiveness of its offerings. It all comes down to the product performing its intended function. Consider that reliable phone brand that never lets you down or the shampoo that gives your hair the ideal bounce.

Cultural Relevance

We talk about brands on a regular basis. In the realm of brands, a company gets groovy and trendy when it aligns with current events, memes, or cultural trends. This makes us want to join in on the conversation.

Celebrity Associations

Brands and celebrities go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s encouraging to see our favourite celebrities support a brand because it says, “Hey if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!”

Experience-Based Relationships

Have you ever had a fantastic customer service experience that increased your affection for a brand? When a brand goes above and beyond to create a memorable experience for you, such as in a hotel with an amazing spa or a coffee shop with the coziest chairs, you form experiential associations.

How To Create a Brand Association?

Crafting brand associations is like planting seeds in the minds of your audience, shaping how they perceive and remember your brand. Here’s your guide to nurturing these mental connections and making your brand unforgettable.

Describe Your Brand’s Personality

See your brand as an individual. Is it lighthearted and funny or serious and elegant? Establishing the personality of your brand helps you establish the kind of associations you want to have.

Create a Memorable Logo and Images

Your logo is your brand’s superhero cape. Make it memorable and visually engaging. In a sea of choices, having consistent imagery across platforms makes your brand easier to recognize.

Tell Captivating Stories

People enjoy a good narrative, and your company should have one. Tell stories about the history, core principles, or even behind-the-scenes events of your brand. Narratives establish bonds that go beyond business dealings.

Engage Emotions

We are drawn to brands that make us feel something. Consider the emotions you want consumers to experience when they engage with your brand. Reach for those feelings, whether they are happiness, excitement, or comfort.

Give Consistent Experiences

It’s Important to Be Consistent! Aim for a seamless experience throughout your website, social media accounts, and customer service. People are more comfortable making positive associations when they know what to expect.

Use Partnerships and Influencers

Having a cool friend to recommend you is sometimes enough. Work together with influencers or establish alliances that complement your brand’s principles. It’s a quick way to establish favourable connections with more people.

Make Memorable Taglines

A memorable tagline is similar to a jingle that sticks in your head. Make sure it captures the essence of your brand and is brief and sweet. 

Be Socially Involved

Follow your followers on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Talk to people, answer their remarks, and show off the individuality of your brand. Long-lasting relationships are formed through social interactions.

Brand Association Vs Brand Personality

Brand-Association-vs-Brand-Personality

Brand Association: Visualise your brand as a folder in your head. The labels and tags your audience applies to anything are called brand associations. It’s what pops into their minds when they consider your company. These associations could be anything, such as emotional ties to past interactions with your product or service or visual components like logos. Consider it an assembly of people’s opinions and convictions toward your company.

For instance, when you picture a particular brand of coffee, you might see warm mornings, the smell of freshly made coffee, or even a particular colour palette.

Brand personality: Consider your brand to be a character right now. The human-like qualities and attributes you provide your brand to establish relatability are known as its brand personality. It’s the individuality that your brand conveys through its messaging, imagery, and general atmosphere. Are you an astute specialist, a tech-savvy buddy, or a cordial neighbour? Establishing a clear and identifiable identity is facilitated by defining your brand’s personality.

Example: Your communication may be informal and your visuals may include dynamic imagery and vivid colours if your brand has an adventurous and youthful spirit.

Key differences -

Nature of Concept:

Brand association: It is the study of the associations individuals have in their minds when they hear the name of your company.

Brand personality: It refers to the purposely human-like qualities and attributes you give your brand to help it become more relatable.

Focus:

Brand association: It is the study of people’s general perceptions and mental images associated with your brand.

Brand personality: Makes your brand more relatable by emphasizing the personality and manner it projects.

Expression: 

Brand association: It is expressed through the associations and mental connections that consumers have built up over time.

Brand personality: It is conveyed by deliberate choices in communication style, imagery, and general brand conduct.

Perception vs. Personality:

Brand association: It is the study of how consumers relate to and perceive your brand.

Brand personality: It refers to the manner in which your brand acts and the qualities that it exhibits.

How to Build Brand Association

Each interaction between a brand and a customer contributes to the development of brand associations. This can be a result of various factors, including marketing, pricing, brand loyalty, referrals, and other aspects related to the brand’s presence.
The factors that contribute to the development of brand associations are mainly:
  • The customer’s relationship with the organization
  • Approaches used in marketing such as Advertising and Public Relations 
  • Brand’s publicity efforts
  • The price structure
  • Celebrity/influencer association
  • The product’s category, quality, and competitors’ strategies.
Positive brand associations are formed when a brand delivers on its promise and stands out from its competitors in the eyes of its customers. Conversely, negative brand associations are created when a brand fails to meet customer expectations.

To Conclude

Brand association is an integral part of building a successful brand. It helps create a positive image of the brand in the minds of customers, which can lead to increased sales and brand loyalty. By focusing on factors such as marketing efforts, pricing, customer relations, and product quality, brands can develop associations that resonate with their target audience. Additionally, it is essential to monitor and manage these associations to ensure they remain positive over time.
Building strong brand associations requires a significant investment of time and effort, but the rewards can be well worth it in the end.

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