Why Your Ads Aren’t Building Brand Recall (And What To Do About It)

Looka is an AI-powered graphic design platform that provides business owners with a quick and affordable way to create a beautiful brand. StackAdapt is pleased to feature this insightful piece on building a brand for your digital advertising campaigns.

For most marketers, the idea of repeating the same creative, campaign after campaign, is nothing short of a nightmare. But it shouldn’t be. 

As boring as it sounds, strategic repetition is the best way to leverage your ad campaigns to build brand recall. While you don’t need to repeat the exact same ads, you do need to repeat some of the same elements of your brand in every ad—because brand recognition is built from brand consistency. 

All brand recall really means is that customers remember your company alongside other members of your niche. If you sold athletic shoes, brand recall would mean your customers naming your brand along with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok when asked to list shoe brands.

But with more than $300 billion in anticipated global digital ad spend for 2019, customers are seeing more ads than ever. Which means getting on that list is only becoming harder.

Establishing brand recognition through digital advertising takes work, especially considering that generating even the barest bit of brand awareness takes about 7 impressions. And even if you understand that keeping all 7 impressions consistent compounds their effect, actually producing consistent ad creative isn’t always so easy.

In fact, your ads might be less consistent than you realize. This could be a result of the ads not showing your brand identity, you not being selective enough with your inventory choices or because you are creating native ads that don’t relate to your brand overall.

To help you start boosting brand recall with your digital advertising, we’ve put together a few of our best practices for brand consistency to apply to your next ad campaign.

Understand Your Brand’s Audience

Brands, contrary to popular belief, aren’t created for companies—they’re created for customers.

Building your brand is all about finding the best way to connect with your customers. The logo design, fonts, colours, messages, and voice that make up your brand identity are all designed to communicate who you are to who you’re trying to reach. 

So, if you want to start bringing your brand front and center in your advertising campaigns, you need to start with your customers.

Your brand was created with specific personas in mind. Speak directly to the people you built your brand for—by targeting audience demographics that fit your ideal customer profile. Things like age, location, gender, lifestyle, and online activity should all go into building an audience profile that aligns with your actual customers.

But you can also go a step further in your brand recall efforts, by targeting customers at different stages of the funnel. For example, at the top of the funnel, the awareness ad will introduce specific brand elements you want the user to remember. In addition, you may already have language you can use to drive the next step in the purchase process. Using the example of a seafood restaurant, Kardia, we introduce the brand elements of a fish, the colours related to the brand, and an image of a dish found at the restaurant. We also use language such as ‘view menu’ to introduce the site and brand associations to the viewer.

Further down the funnel, the retargeting ad would include a familiar image and colours, but with different text to continue to capture the different mindset of the viewer. The prospect has already seen the ad and visited the site to see the menu, so now it’s time to get a reservation booked.

When you were building your brand, you probably came up with a set of core messages you could use to tell the world who you are and how you’re different. These messages can cover everything from how you approach big ideas differently than your competitors, to how your product is easier to use, to the fact you have better customer service. In our Kardia example, it might actually be drawing a direct comparison to your competitors and showing how you come out on top.

When you’re creating targeted, full-funnel campaigns, map these brand messages onto different stages of the funnel, to speak to the right customer, with the right message, at the right time. 

Leverage Your Brand Identity and Brand Assets

Even though it has already been noted above, it bears repeating—brand recognition is built on repetition. And your brand identity and assets can help you do that.

Once you design a logo, decide on your fonts, and choose your colour palette, you need to consistently use those elements of your brand identity in your ads.

While you should test and experiment with your ad creative to see what engages your audience, keeping your logo, fonts, colours, imagery, voice, and messages consistent will help to tie all those ads back to your brand. This is as easy as building brand guidelines to identify the characteristics that should be present in your ads. Below is an example of what the brand guidelines might look like for Kardia.

The more frequently your audience sees these elements of your brand, the better they’ll be able to recall it. While estimates vary on what exactly the most effective frequency is, the general rule for driving ad and brand recall is “more is more”. 

So, when you’re deciding on the creative direction and design for display ads, ensure you’re grounding everything in the brand assets you already have on hand. Don’t just go for what seems cool, what gets the most immediate conversions, or what your competitors are doing. Instead, create display ads that are recognizable as your brand, by holding yourself accountable to your brand guidelines and brand identity. That way, you can build long-term loyalty (and not just short-term success).

If you’re creating native advertisements, you’ll need to adapt to the site hosting your ad, but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon your brand. Even if you aren’t creating content directly related to what you do, it should still speak to who you are. Leveraging your brand voice and messages in any piece of native content can help sell readers on your brand, even if you’re not directly selling your product.

For both display and native ads, the images you choose are going to provide an immediate impact. Follow the rules you have within your brand guidelines to choose images that fit with the rest of your brand identity, even—and especially—if you’re using stock images for your display and native ads. A consistent look and feel helps to build at a glance brand recall, even before customers can spot your logo in the corner of the ad. This is also true for video and connected TV (CTV) ads. For Kardia, familiar brand elements would be a restaurant, blue colours and a ship, illustrating the relationship to the ocean.

Consider the Message of Display and Native Ad Formats

Aside from the ad creative itself, where that ad appears will send customers a message about your brand. While audience targeting will take care of some of this, taking a second glance at the sites your display ads are going to appear on in a programmatic campaign can help ensure those sites align with the brand you’re looking to create.

Even if your customers are all visiting certain sites, your ad might not make sense in all places or the ad placement might give a negative impression of your brand.

For native advertising campaigns, this choice has less to do with making sure sites aren’t conflicting with your brand and more to do with finding sites that complement your brand. Your native ads should feature content within the same sphere as your company, which means finding sites that align with your brand in some meaningful way. When Kardia is looking to run native ads, they want to run on sites related to restaurants, the ocean, and beautiful scenery.

Aligning the sites you appear on with your messages makes it easier for customers to understand who you are. The more cohesive your ad placements, the easier your brand is to recall. 

Get Your Team On Board with Brand Recall

Brand recall isn’t something you can tackle all by yourself—you need to get your team on board as well. Creating consistently on-brand creative comes down to the people actually working on your ads.

Whether you’re working with an internal marketing and design team or external consultants, one way to bring everyone together over brand is through your brand guidelines. Distributing your brand guidelines to your internal team or sending them out to any external consultant makes sure everyone stays on the same page about who you are, who your customers are, and how best to bring the two closer together.

Within your guidelines, everything from audience, to mission, vision, and values, to brand identity, and brand assets are brought together in one space. These guidelines can act as an objective resource to determine whether or not a new ad series will support brand recall, before you launch your campaign.

If you haven’t gone through the process of creating a brand identity and brand guidelines, doing this now will help improve brand alignment down the line.

Set Brand Strategy Goals for Ad Campaigns

Beyond the reasons mentioned above, there’s one big obstacle that stands in the way of companies building their brand recall through brand consistency: commitment.

If you want to achieve better brand recognition, you need to make it a priority—by adding it to your ad campaign goals.

While platforms like Stackadapt can measure your campaign success with metrics like clicks and impressions, you should set separate goals for brand performance. For example, consider the following questions, to ensure you’re supporting your brand identity in your ads:

  • How does your target audience compare to the customer personas behind your brand?
  • Which of their wants and needs are you appealing to?
  • Which brand messages can answer those needs?
  • How does your ad creative support your brand identity?
  • What brand assets do you already have on hand that you can leverage?
  • What aspects of your mission, vision, or values does this campaign speak to?
  • Can the sites you’re running your ads on support the visual elements of your brand identity?
  • Do those channels align with your brand and campaign messages?

Along with campaign goals for clicks, conversions, and revenue, set ad campaign goals for which messages you want to leverage, which brand assets you want to repurpose, and which aspects of your brand identity you want to enforce.

It can be tempting to focus only on the metrics that have an immediate payoff, but sacrificing brand consistency for short term campaign success can hurt the integrity of your brand in the long run. To get the kind of customer loyalty that drives long-term brand recall and repurchases, brand consistency needs to be top of mind.

By holding yourself accountable for brand consistency in your ad campaigns, you can build better brand recall over time—to become a brand your customers not only know, but love as well.

You can build a logo and brand assets as amazing as Kardia with the Looka platform and translate your brand into effective ad formats to run across display, native and video—as seen in the examples above—with the StackAdapt Creative Studio.

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