Chapter 5: Achieving Top-of-Mind Awareness for Your Brand

In this chapter, we are going to explore how you can make your marketing messages have a strong instant impact every single time, even in the minds of people who are not paying attention. In addition, you will be able to achieve top of mind awareness quickly. 

Chapter 5: Achieving  Top-of-Mind Awareness for Your  Brand
Top-of-Mind Awareness for Your Product, Service or Business

We are going to explore how you can make your marketing messages have a strong instant impact every single time. Those two things individually or together can produce a significant jump in your sales.

As it turns out, the secret to achieving instant impact and top-of-mind awareness is one very simple technique that is also very easy to implement and the news just keeps getting better. Your cost to implement this simple and easy technique will be extremely low perhaps even 0.

So there is a big upside and no downside.

However, to achieve that you will have to hang tough as we weave our way through this somewhat deep material.

There's just no way around it and a detailed laid out process is the only way to reach the level of understanding you need to implement it effectively. I'll keep this article lively and interesting, your time and attention to this will pay off handsomely I assure you. 

To learn how to achieve both instant impact and top-of-mind recall you must first understand how the brain handles information. As each of the five senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, receives information, it instantaneously sends this information to the brain.

The brain must then determine what to do with it. The brain makes never-ending evaluations and decisions about what is important and what is not important and what needs to be acted upon and what does it need to be acted upon and so forth.

As a result of all this brain-intensive evaluation and decision, your information, let us say your brand name or logo either makes an impression or it doesn't. Unfortunately for most marketers in our over communicator society, their brand name or logo makes either no impact at all or a weak one at best. For you, this is about to change.  For you, a strong instant impact will result. Let's say a person sees your logo or brand name in a newspaper or internet advert or on signage, that piece of information which is your logo travels through nerves from the eyes to the brain.

When it arrives, the brain tries to determine what your logo means or how relevant it is. 

The brain's search for meaning and relevancy is called preprocessing. To process your logo or brand name the brain begins performing a specific one or two-step maneuver. 

Let's walk through those steps so you can see exactly how processing is accomplished and we'll pretend that you are the consumer.

You are walking at a fast pace down the highway and you see the word BrandTana on a billboard. By the way, BrandTana is a fictitious name, any similarity to a real name of any kind is a coincidence and should be ignored. In its quest for meaning and relevance, your brain begins processing this word as follows: 

First, your brain searches its memory banks, for information that might match.

If this latest piece of information, the BranTana logo you just saw matches up with any information in your memory bank, your brain will assign the same meaning to the new information as the matching meaning in storage.

For example, you recall having eaten at BrandTana, your memory indicates it's a sandwich shop.  So the latest sighting of the BrandTana name has been assigned that meaning and processing stops. Everything that has happened so far, from seeing the BrandTana sign, to searching your memory banks, discovering a match, and assigning a meaning to the word, took place at the subconscious level and in a split second.

Consciously you may not have been aware of any of this, consciously you're paying attention to driving the car or to some music perhaps or you're thinking about whether you're going to arrive at your destination on time but subconsciously you saw the sign and processed it faster than a computer. But what happens when the new information, the BrandTana logo sighting does not match up with anything in your memory.

In that case, your brain continues to process.

The next step is to seek additional information, your brain is asking itself what is BrandTana? A brand of ice cream or shoe store the name of a street? What?  When your brain searches for meaning outside of your memory it must keep the word BrandTana up to the conscious level of attention and actively go on an information-gathering expedition.

Once this happens the process slows down considerably, the conscious deliberate search for meaning, is far slower than the subconscious search. So now your brain directs you to engage in information-gathering behaviour.

You might ask the person riding next to you: Hey Meteor do you know what BrandTana is or you might look intently at the entire sign to see what other information is there to give you a clue. Since all this requires your attention and effort, it doesn't happen very often. Instead of consciously seeking more information, your brain will more than likely choose an easier route. It will simply reject the information. That's another way of saying the BrandTana logo was turned away at the door, just tossed aside.

If your brain can't discover a match from memory and it doesn't feel like interrupting the conscious mind with the assignment of finding meaning, the brain decides that the word BrandTana is irrelevant and is therefore rejected before it can make an impact and this is why many marketing messages make no impact at all.

What do you want the customer's brain to do when it sees your logo or hears your brand name mentioned? Certainly, you don't want the brain to reject it. That's the worst alternative nor do you want the brain to have to consciously seek meaning, since doing so has many disadvantages: for one it takes longer, even worse their brain may find a meaning that you don't want it to find.

Your competitors might be casting your Brand in a negative light and the client might just happen to come across that information. Suddenly and through no fault of your own, the consumer determines that your product or service is sub-par and to be avoided. 

When the brain results in conscious processing, anything can happen. The best alternative we've seen so far occurs when the buyer’s brain successfully matches a piece of newly received information, that’s your brand name now, with previously received information in memory. When this happens, the latest sighting or hearing of your name is a sign of meaning, hopefully, a good one, and is routed to that part of the brain that accepts impressions. 

How do you cause this to happen? And how do you avoid those bad alternatives we’ve mentioned. Ideally, you want to direct the customer’s brain to a sign of strong positive meaning to your brand name each and every time their brain is exposed to it. 

With no rejections, no conscious search for meaning, and no negative meaning assigned to it. If you could do this, you will make an instant impact every time. And after a number of such impressions, you will achieve a top-of-mind recall.

This ideal scenario exists and it is available to you now.

The secret is a technique called: preprocessing.

When you preprocess, you cause the buyer's brain to avoid the processing functions altogether. This is the best alternative possible, even better than any we've discussed up to this point. When you preprocess, you're supplying the brain with a positive meaning to go along with your brand name. The consumer’s brain doesn't have to search its memory banks for meaning because it already has a meaning that you supplied. You preprocess by providing the brain with a piece of information, a special word that it is already familiar with and which carries a positive or desirable connotation. 

I call this special word a preprocessed word.

An Introduction to Bag-of-Words in NLP | by Jocelyn D'Souza | GreyAtom |  Medium


Once you choose a pre-process word, you simply attach it to your brand name or logo. This will become clear to you as we continue.

The very best example of preprocessing actually dates back to the 1900s.

For many years Coca-Cola had the word drink attached to their logo, it appeared in small letters directly above the words Coca-Cola. The word drink is a great preprocessed word for many reasons.

One of the first things we do when we are born is drink, so everyone can relate to it and we all have to drink every day to live. So it's always relevant. Also, the word drink is versatile, it can be used as both a noun and a verb. If I said to you drink Coca-Cola that could mean that Coca-Cola is a drink with a noun usage or could mean that I want you to chug it down, that's the verb usage. 

Incidentally, the Coca-Cola Company has changed its preprocessed word over the decades. Sometime in the 1970s, they replaced the word drink with enjoy which would be your favourite preprocessed word for Coca-Cola? Drink or enjoy, although enjoy is good, the drink is better in my estimation and sometimes Coca-Cola has done away with a preprocessed word altogether. Then one reappears a year or two later and not sure why it comes and goes as I think they'd be better off just leaving it in place all the time. 

Nevertheless, I’ll credit Coca-Cola with inventing the preprocessing technique and implementing it beautifully. Here's another example: Also decades-old, take a drive through the countryside, the more rural the better. Do you see a food chain with the word “eat” in large capital letters above their name? Eat is another great preprocessor word for the same reasons as the drink is. Everyone knows what it means and everyone can relate to it at least three times a day. Also, the word eat often comes up in conversation, ask someone where do you want to eat, and more often than not the name of the restaurant that attached itself to that word will pop up first.  

Let's look at one more example, this one for a sporting goods store called DELS.

This is another fictitious name by the way, if there really is a DELS sporting good somewhere that's a coincidence and should be ignored. Picture the DELS logo, just see it in your mind. The word DELS appears in big capital letters, below it is the two words sporting goods typical logo so far but now the pre-process word gets added above and to the left in smaller letters than the word DELS, the word fun appears.

Ah yes! another great preprocess word, everyone wants to have fun and it's what sports really boils down to. Let me address a couple more aspects of preprocessing before we get into the implementation steps.

You might be thinking preprocessing may help a new product or service gain familiarity but if you say "my company has been in business for over 40 years everyone already knows what we're all about". There are two problems with this reasoning, first, despite the number of years your product, service, or company has been around, very few people relative to the entire population know anything about you.  Very few people in the United Kingdom can even name the Chancellor. The fact that he gets a sizable amount of media coverage. There are only a handful of companies international giant all of them, that is recognisable by the majority of the population.  I can remember working with a student radio station months ago that called itself Verve. My thinking was that they placed the preprocessed word radio above Verve in their logo to make it recognisable. I personally conducted research on my colleagues, showed them half the logo and most of them thought Verve was either a bug spray, a household lubricant or an energy drink.
If you are a venerable well-known business-to-business company, with no interest at all in reaching consumers at large, you're still benefitting from preprocessing. After all, if you don't do it, a competitor just might and then start getting on you or a new competitor could use it to gain entry to the market and build market share at your expense.

Secondly, telling people what your brand name means is only part of what we're trying to accomplish through preprocessing. I've mentioned the top of mind awareness or recall a few times. This is a by-product of preprocessing and just as important as making instant impressions.

The real key to preprocessing effectiveness is by providing a preprocessor word in attaching it to your brand name or logo, you are programming the consumer’s brain to store the two. The preprocess word and logo as one piece of information.  When that occurs you've hit the jackpot. Now your name automatically pops up into a person's consciousness when the preprocessed word flashes in their mind and Kaaching! goes your cash flow skyrocketing. 

By preprocessing you are accomplishing 3 amazing things at the same time.

First, you're controlling how your brand name is perceived in the marketplace, second, you're making an instant impact every time someone sees or hears your brand name.

Thirdly, you're catapulting your name to the top of the recall list whenever the customer thinks about your type of product or service.

Now it's time to implement:

Step #1  is to choose a preprocessor word. The ideal preprocess word is descriptive, has a positive connotation, and is likely to come to mind often and likely to come up in a conversation. For example, the word restaurant is descriptive so it's okay, but the word eat is better because it's more likely to come up in a conversation. Sentences like where do you want to eat or let's get something to eat or even do you feel like eating are verbalised all the time.

Remember when we talked about that sandwich shop named BrandTana? pretend you and I own that place and we're ready to choose a reprocessed word. Can you think of any good words besides eat or restaurant?  I've got one. How about hungry or delicious?

That's what happens right before we choose a restaurant right? we get hungry. It's also very likely to come up in a conversation. For example, Hey is anyone hungry? 

Step#2 is to link your brand name or logo in visual form or auditory form.

Remember the order in which you want your pre-processed word and brand name to enter the client’s brain. The preprocess word comes first. It opens the door then your brand name rides in on its coattails much like when your friend gets you into the event by telling the doorman she's with me, since the pre-process word comes first we want to position it above or to the left of the brand name in our logo.

Take our early example: "Hungry BrandTana”. From a design standpoint, you want your pre-processed word so integrated that it becomes part of the logo. In the auditory form which would be used in radio, television, or internet advertising, the voice can say when you're hungry BranTana is the place to go as one example. Notice that the words hungry and BrandTana are right next to each other in the proper order. Those two implementation steps are all you need to do, to get preprocessing working for you. 

However, now I can tell you have several questions. Let's address them now. 

Question: I can think of several good preprocessed words, can I use them all perhaps rotating them from time to time?

Answer: You really don't want to do that, choose one good preprocess word and commit to it you're trying to get your preprocessed word and your brand name linked together as one inside the customer’s brain. If you change the pre-process word you weaken that link and now you're starting over from scratch.

Question: It seems kind of awkward having this preprocess word stuck to my logo is that normal?

Answer: Don't let the seeming awkwardness of preprocessing bother you. People are not scrutinizing and analysing your logo like you are. Besides in time, you'll get used to it and any awkwardness will dissipate.

Question:  Can I use preprocessing in other ways besides with my logo.

Answer: Yes, you can use the technique in the body copy of an advert or commercial or even in your sales materials or on your website. 

I alluded to this a moment ago with that example sentence when you're Hungry BrandTana is the place to go, just make sure there are no other words they come between your pre-process word and brand name, for that would weaken the link. For instance, when you're hungry come to BrandTana. See that's not good because the words come in between hungry and BrandTana. 

Since our last question is a really good one since the pre-process word is supposed to become part of a logo, can we take that concept one step further and make the preprocessor word part of the brand name itself? Yes!  you clever one, yes you can do that.

Here are some real-life examples of brand names with a pre-process word built into the name. Tyre America,  Comfort Inn,  Food Lion, Pizza Hut, Motel 6, Signs Now, Mattress Discounters, Subway, and Casino Londoner. 

In each case, the first word of the brand name is descriptive carries a positive connotation and may come up in conversation, which means these are pretty good preprocess words and therefore pretty good brand names, however before you jump up and decide to change your brand name, keep this in mind; if one of your competitors has already used preprocessing in this manner, you have to be careful you don't use the same preprocess word in the same manner. For example, since there is already a brand called Motel 6, you shouldn't name your place Motel 12 it's too similar to confusing but what about Sleep Inn. 

You could however use the same preprocess word as a competitor if one of you uses it in the brand name and the other of you uses it in the traditional way of attaching it to the logo.
For example, there's our restaurant chain named Pizza Hut the pre-process word pizza is built into the brand name so what did Papa John's do? No, they didn't change their name to Pizza Papa, they simply attach the word pizza to their logo following the design guidelines I mentioned earlier.

One final point as we wrap up the chapter, preprocessing works by making impressions, the right kind of impressions on the subconscious minds of consumers. Subconscious impressions are very effective, yet it's tempting to spend a good deal of marketing money trying to make conscious impressions. An example would be teaser campaigns designed to arouse curiosity or create buzz. This is the exact opposite of preprocessing, it not only requires the brain to process, to seek meaning but it makes it difficult for the brain to find meaning. This means you're going to have a very high rate of brain rejection which makes such use of the budget highly inefficient I'm not saying a good buzz creating effort isn't useful at times in fact I'll show you a highly efficient way to get virus spreading throughout your target market in the upcoming chapter but the point I'm making now is not to become over enamored with conscious impression.

In most cases, subconscious impressions are less costly and more effective. Remember creating demand is a building process. I believe you're ready for a major build-up and a subsequent demand explosion you can achieve that by widening the appeal of your product, service, or business. That's the topic of the next chapter.