Why We Prefer Brands We Recognise

Bibiana Obahor
September 14, 2023
Familiarity guides brand selection - we prefer what we know. This psychological tendency stems from recognizable branding, engaging ads, and targeted outreach, shaping our choices and preferences in the consumer landscape.

In this article

Have you ever noticed that when you're in a store, you often end up picking products from brands you're familiar with? This isn't just a coincidence. It's because our brains have a natural liking for things we know. There's a psychological concept called familiarity bias at play. This bias means we naturally lean towards things we're familiar with, and this has a big impact on how we choose between different brands.

71% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service from a name they recognise.

The Impact of Familiarity Bias on Brand Preference

The familiarity bias can be succinctly described as our innate tendency to gravitate towards the familiar. In essence, we are drawn to what we know. When applied to the realm of brands, this phenomenon underscores the power of recognition and familiarity in driving consumer preferences. Consider a recent visit to the supermarket, surrounded by a myriad of product choices. More often than not, you likely find yourself reaching for a product that you are familiar with. This is not mere coincidence; it is a manifestation of the consistent and targeted advertising strategies that brands employ.

But familiarity goes beyond just recognising a brand's name. The core principle behind brand familiarity rests on the idea of occupying mental space. It means you know enough about the brand to form an opinion about it. And before you can truly like a brand, you need to be familiar with it.

So, how do brands become familiar to us?

Creating a state of brand familiarity involves a multi-faceted approach. Brands must make themselves easily accessible in the minds of consumers, making them both easy to think of and easy to buy. Achieving this involves a strategic interplay of factors, including consistent exposure through advertising and the establishment of positive emotions and associations.

1. Ensuring Easy Recognition and Accessibility

Brands understand that the simpler it is for consumers to remember and access their products, the more likely they are to become familiar choices. This involves several aspects:

Memorable Branding. Brands use logos, colours, and designs that are distinctive and easy to remember. When you consistently see these visual elements, your brain associates them with the brand, making it easier to recognise later.

Product Placement. Brands work to make their products easy to find in stores and online. When you repeatedly see a product on the shelves, you become accustomed to its presence, making it more familiar over time.

2. Crafting Engaging and Enjoyable Ads

Brands create advertisements that not only capture your attention but also make you enjoy the experience. These ads are designed to leave a positive impression and stay in your memory:

Creative Storytelling. Brands tell stories that resonate with their target audience. A compelling narrative can create an emotional connection, making the brand more memorable.

Humour and Entertainment. Humorous or entertaining ads are more likely to stick in your mind. The positive emotions associated with these ads can contribute to increased familiarity.

3. Consistency in Exposure

One of the key aspects of building familiarity is consistent exposure. Brands make sure their messages are present in various places and platforms

Omnipresence. Brands use a mix of advertising channels, such as TV, social media, billboards, and online ads, to ensure you encounter their messages regularly. This repetition reinforces familiarity.

Sponsorships and Collaborations. Brands often collaborate with events, influencers, or other brands to increase their visibility. These partnerships expose the brand to different audiences, enhancing its familiarity.

In the end, the familiarity bias shows us that our brains naturally prefer what they recognise. Brands that make themselves familiar to us have a better chance of becoming our favourites. This is why brands put a lot of effort into making sure we remember them and feel good about them. Understanding this can help brands make smarter choices in how they advertise and connect with us.


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