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What is Brand Salience?

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What is Brand Salience?

What is Brand Salience?

In marketing measures, brand salience is a KPI that gauges how well respondents notice a brand. In cognitive psychology, “salience” defines the domain of the most prominent or noticeable. A Salient brand is a brand that consumers see and – more importantly – remember. This measure is particularly effective in assessing a brand’s likelihood to be part of a consumer repertoire. According to Hubspot, “Brand salience is a marketing KPI that tells you how well people recognize, notice, or think about your brand when they’re making purchasing decisions.” 

Brand Salience vs. Recall and Top of Mind Awareness

In this sense, salience is more closely related to purchase intent than similar measures included in brand equity, like brand awareness and recall. Brand Salience incorporates “top of mind” awareness but predicts the ability to impact future consumption, which is not valid for the equity measure. 

Whereas brand recall explains how well consumers remember a brand – a crucial step towards equity building: no memory, no equity, high recall, high equity potential (but of course, if consumers recall your brand for the wrong reasons, like a scandal, they have a negative perception and that’s not building equity either.) But salience is more action-driven.

Brand Salience: a common misconception

A common misconception is that communication with a clear call-to-action does not improve brand salience, whereas attribute-based communication does. It is not the type of communication that determines saliency. But, indeed, temporary-price promotions do not contribute positively to attribute reinforcing, whereas attributes-based campaigns are more likely to drive saliency. 

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Building Brand Salience: five levers

There are several elements pushing brand salience. Some of them are more tactical, others more strategic. The measure has two vital components: a memory one, which is the ability to create memories with the brand; the second is attention-based, which is the ability of a brand to grasp the consumer’s attention at the moment of purchase. Hence, we list five levers in building salience:

1) Consistency of assets: consistency is crucial in forming the brand memories that drive action. In a world where our brains receive 10-15,000 adverts per day, consistency is vital to ensure consumers link the adverts of one brand to the other.  

2) Distinctiveness of the message: a paradox of saliency is that copycatting is likely to strengthen the “copied” instead of the “copying” brand. So whenever an emerging brand borrows from a more significant player, the lack of uniqueness of the message will drive saliency for the more important player. 

3) Distinctiveness of assets: a similar paradox applies to communication assets. But communication assets are more likely to create the memory and polarize it. While I was working at Campari in Belgium a few years ago, I met someone from Nespresso who shared with me the concern that George Cluny’s endorsement of their coffee system in the kingdom of Chocolate and Fries was doing work more for Campari than Nespresso. To that extent, they had consumer tracking proving that Cluney’s image was as associated with Nespresso as it was with Campari and Martini. More interestingly, George Cluey was promoting Martini and not Campari, yet from a perception point of view, a rather large group of consumers could not see the difference. Lack of distinctiveness did not help Nespresso or Martini. It somehow helped Campari.

4) Emotional Connection: Emotion has a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans. Emotions modulate the selectivity of attention and motivate actions and behavior. Building an emotional connection between brands and consumers is one of the most important drivers of brand saliency. It allows them to form memories, and it motivates consumers to act and, therefore, purchase. Brand Purpose is also a platform to create emotional connections, which run deeply with consumers’ preferences. But Purpose alone is neither necessary nor sufficient for a salient brand.

5) Authenticity: Uniqueness is important, but authenticity is a crucial enabler. Consumers’ ability to trust a brand plays a role in how well they remember it and whether they are moved to action. Specifically, high trust and mistrust drive memories, but only one ensures purchase intention. 

Examples of Brand Salience

With no consumer research on hand, it isn’t easy to guess the saliency of a brand. However, some brands became a proxy for their category, and we know that saliency is exceptionally high for those. Here are some examples:

Google: internet search. 

Netflix: video streaming

iPhone: phone

Tesla: electric cars

Jacuzzi: hot tubs

Kleenex: paper tissues

Scotch Tape: adhesive film

Tupperware: plastic containers

In conclusion

Measuring Brand Saliency and optimizing its development could drive short- and long-term growth. However, because saliency is based on consumers’ ability to form memories with the brand, we like to think of the KPI as a more long-term play than a short-term tactical effort. 


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you measure brand salience effectively beyond the examples provided?

Measuring brand salience involves assessing the extent to which consumers think of or notice your brand when making purchase decisions. Beyond basic recall and recognition tests, companies can utilize consumer surveys to gauge brand relevance in specific buying scenarios. Advanced analytics and social listening tools can also track brand mentions and sentiment across various media, providing insights into how prominently your brand features in discussions within its category. Additionally, market research techniques such as aided and unaided recall tests, brand association mapping, and purchase intent studies offer a more profound understanding of your brand’s salience among target consumers.

Can small businesses or startups achieve high brand salience without substantial marketing budgets?

By leveraging strategic, cost-effective methods, small businesses or startups can achieve high brand salience without hefty marketing budgets. Focusing on creating a unique, memorable brand identity and delivering consistent, high-quality customer experiences can enhance brand recall. Engaging with customers through social media, content marketing, and community involvement are low-cost ways to increase brand visibility and relevance. Partnerships with other businesses and influencer collaborations can also amplify brand presence. Creativity, authenticity, and leveraging word-of-mouth can significantly enhance brand salience without extensive advertising spending.

How do digital and social media platforms impact the strategies for building brand salience compared to traditional marketing channels?

Digital and social media platforms have transformed strategies for building brand salience by offering new ways to engage with consumers directly and personally. These platforms allow for targeted content delivery, interactive communications, and the ability to create shareable, viral content that can increase brand visibility quickly. Unlike traditional marketing channels, digital and social media enable brands to gather real-time feedback, monitor brand sentiment, and adjust strategies dynamically. Data analytics and insights from these platforms also allow brands to tailor their messaging and content to specific audience segments, enhancing relevance and recall. Consequently, digital strategies require brands to be more agile, content-driven, and consumer-centric to build and maintain salience effectively.

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