The battle for Brand Attention

By PascalSatori |

November 11, 2021

What is Brand Attention?

In a nutshell, it’s the level of interest in your brand, when people are considering your brand, you are generating Brand Attention. Attention is one of those precious commodities that brands are all battling it out for, especially

in today’s highly distracted world. Think about this, in just 60 seconds online there are 3.47 million YouTube videos watched, 4.2 million google searches, 510k Facebook comments and 694k tik tok videos viewed. With this truly mind-boggling amount of content competing for the eyes and minds of consumers, attention is understandably becoming a scarcity, and when something is in such short supply, it’s seen as incredibly valuable and often, hard to get.  

The ability for brands to capture just a small space in people’s minds is highly sought after, and is just the starting point for Marketers who set out to build strong brands, that cut through.

The challenge of Brand Attention

Considering ‘you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression’  the challenge for brands is to rise above the storm so they’re message is heard. Brands need to be strong enough to weather the seas of sameness in order to differentiate, and grab the attention of their audience. 

The ability for a brand to quickly differentiate themselves means they are far more likely to be remembered, and have greater opportunity to build a strong presence and customer following in the long-term. The one thing that some of the largest, most successful brands in the world have in common, is their ability to effectively capture a small piece of their audience’s attention with their unique, cut through messaging and creativity.

Brands that win this short-term battle for attention then have a better chance at winning the war in securing long-term customer retention and loyalty, recognition, strong brand equity, emotional connection and of course, profitability.

Attention is just the starting point for marketers, it’s the very first step towards building a strong, unique brand. Great brands will make you pay attention in the beginning, but they are also grounded by design thinking, creativity and strong strategic direction to build that long-term connection and audience engagement.

Being different, being creative, being consistent – the key to creating Brand Attention 

Brands that attract attention are usually inherently unique in their positioning and consistent in their delivery, and this doesn’t happen by chance. Marketers spend a lot of time and money developing creative strategies to differentiate and build unique brands. Successful brands all invest in these early stages of research and strategic thinking so they can better understand and empathise with their customers. It’s only then they will be able to effectively pinpoint how to go about getting their audiences attention, and retaining it.

When we talk about brand differentiation we mean offering something unique of value to the consumer. This doesn’t have to be a completely new innovation or product. It could simply be innovative thinking around the ways in which the brand positions itself and communicates with its audience.

Think about energy drink brands. There is a sea of products out there with similar ingredients, taste and benefits. A brand like Red Bull has created uniquely different positioning with its ‘Gives you Wings’ line. This concept informs the Brand Identity and Personality. It paints itself as a brand grounded by youthful energy, risk taking and action oriented with its extreme sporting alignment. The idea that you can tackle any challenge with Red Bull. This identity has been amplified through every brand touchpoint and all communication. 

While the brand has evolved over the years, this core positioning and identity has remained at the heart of all communications. Over time this has secured a place in the heart of their consumers and continued to connect with their audience. While many competitors have entered the energy drink space, Red Bull still remain a firm favourite, chosen time and time again by their loyal following. 

In fact, Red Bull sold 7.5 billions cans in 2020, that’s enough to supply one can to every single person on earth. Not bad for a brand that’s been around for 37 odd years.

Red Bull are an example of a brand that successfully gets your attention, and retains it, by using strategically designed, connected campaigns, that are unique, creative and consistent across all touch points and messaging.

There is consistency in both their brand communications, but also in their product delivery. Customers know what they’re getting, they have a consistent experience with the brand time and time again.

How do we get Brand Attention?

Some ideas about getting attention are outlined in the theory Paul Feldwick’s book, “The Anatomy of Humbug” which theorises some of the popular beliefs around what we think advertising is

  • Salesmanship: create intrigue, interest, beyond the rational needs fulfilment, what is exciting and alluring about the brand?

  • Seduction: temptation, hooking you in with possibilities and the potential for satisfaction and excitement

  • Saliency: being top of mind, recall among consumers, how can you be easily remembered?

  • Social Connection: building the long-term relationship and connection you’re your consumers. 

  • Spin: shaping the truth, storytelling, relationship building through PR

  • Showbiz: entertainment, creative flair, pizazz and being showy for the sake of it

While these ideas can help us understand a little bit more about how we might generate some interest, they can only be used as a starting point in paving the way for true brand building and emotional connection to happen.

How do you know if your brand is getting Attention? 

While it might sound obvious, it’s important to understand what the indicators of high brand attention might be. It’s highly unlikely people will be shouting your brand from the rooftops or writing it in the sky (challenge accepted?!). What we’re looking for here are some key indicators. These might include lots of third party mentions driven by organic word-of-mouth rather than targeted, paid PR activity. Online customer chatter, reviews, testimonial and recommendations. Time spent on brand social media or websites. These and other earned media are often great indicators that your brand is generating interest and attention.

Measuring brand Attention

While we understand the importance of Attention for brand success, we haven’t agreed on an accurate way to measure it. Brand Attention has never been an easily measurable or quantifiable concept. Many marketers have tried to quantify attention using a number of measurement tools. Traditionally we looked at overall business performance indicators and outcomes, which was tricky to attribute and isolate to Attention grabbing efforts alone.  Direct consumer feedback aimed to illicit consumers true thoughts and feelings with surveys and personal interviews. This was time consuming and often ineffective due to research influence with a tendency to to skew the findings.

Then came the rise of digital marketing and with it, an abundance of data and metrics such as dwell time, impressions, interaction rates, scroll time etc. that could measure attention. But these metrics alone missed the human-centricity that underpins strategic marketing. They fail to ask the questions eg) why someone might have viewed? What was their motivation? Who are they and what are their unique drivers? What action did they take and why they took it?

In order to bridge the existing gaps in measurement, organisations today have developed cloud-based platforms with the ability to measure large volumes of Attention metrics that previously wouldn’t be scalable or efficient if done manually. They assign a scoring system to each level of attention metric. This can then be overlaid with some of the more qualitative measures, resulting in a far more holistic picture and some of the measurement bias previously associated with cherry-picking certain metrics is removed.  

Like all creative efforts, Brand Attention can be difficult if we try to measure it in isolation of other activities and only use just one type of measurement. What’s important, like all creative and brand building measurement is to set yourself up with a toolkit that combines both qualitative and quantitative measures to gain an understanding of what, but also why people might engage with certain content. Attention measurement should also consider the brand building, creative design and media platforms that all work together in generating Attention in the first place.

Brand strength is then built by sound strategy guided by consumer-centric design thinking and a creative approach. Brands that are able to differentiate themselves will be far better at cutting through the noise, winning a small piece of our distracted minds from the outset and form the building blocks of longevity, emotional connection and loyalty. The end result? Strong Brands that stand out, stand the test of time, and stand up in the face of competition.

But Brand Attention is the spark that ignites a brand, it fuels the fire for brands to become household names and brand powerhouses. Because at the end of the day, if no one is paying attention in the first place, what comes next won’t particularly matter.

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