Every Impression Counts: Brand Impressions and Customer Engagement

If you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty savvy to marketing. You probably recognize that a lot of companies are trying to get your attention.

We’re seeing thousands of marketing messages every day. Even when we don’t think we’re seeing them, our brains are seeing them.

In the ongoing battle for consumer loyalty, customer engagement is the best weapon we have. At least at the beginning of the relationship, customer engagement is largely about impressions. Combine those impressions with a positive experience and you have engagement. When the customer initiates that engagement, that’s when it begins to merge into loyalty.

But at the core of it are impressions, or simple repetition.

Impressions Everywhere

In creating our engagement eBook, we put in quite a bit of research on brand impressions. One would guess that the typical consumer gets hit by at least a couple hundred brands every day. Market research firm Yankelovich (now known as The Futures Company) said in 2007 that consumers see 5,000 brand impressions a day. That’s compared with about 2,000 in 1977.

With the mass adoption of smartphones really having hit since then, as well as the proliferation of social media (namely Facebook and Twitter), I projected that people are seeing double the amount of brands they did just seven years ago.

Try it. Hop onto your Facebook news feed and count them up. Before even reading a post, you'll see three trending stories involving celebrities or brands, followed by four paid advertisements below it. Include the Facebook logo, and you're in for eight ads without even scrolling down.

Nevermind Facebook; just take a close look around your workspace. There are probably a dozen brand impressions waiting for you, from your computer monitor to logos on all the pens you've collected through the years.

It's tempting to think, "So what? I never pay attention to any of those." At least, that's what I say.

Well, the human brain processes as much as 400 billion bits of information a second, but we're aware of only about 2,000 of those bits. You may not consciously notice most bits, but your brain always does. With enough repetition, those tiny bits of information become familiar, and you'll feel that familiarity the first time you "see" that name or logo.

Even when consumers don't "see" branding, they're seeing branding. And there’s a lot of it out there, competing with yours.

Value is King, Context is God

Everyone is battling to make an impression on consumers, because every impression counts. Even when a consumer isn't aware they're being sold to - such as when the funny lead sitcom character cracks open the energy drink (with logo pointed toward the camera, of course) - the brain is taking notes, and often those hidden impressions add a layer of comfort to a purchase.

The more exposure a person has to a brand, the better chance that brand has at a sale. Even after a sale, those impressions play a key role in engagement and retention.

It's about creating positive engagement touch points, and it's especially important if you're not an "everyday interaction" kind of brand, like an insurance company or membership organization. That means value – or what’s being given or communicated to the customer – is critical.

Put that value in the right context – delivered in the right channel at the right time – and that’s when engagement begins. This is when a brand moves from noise into signal; when the consumer begins seeking out the brand.

Every impression matters, but the ones that add some sort of value in context is what convinces and retains customers.

An Experiment

Remember how I mentioned I thought the typical consumer only sees a couple hundred brand impressions every day? I decided to put that to the test myself. Check out our next blog post, in which I made note of every brand that made its way into my head over the course of a single day.

Looking for ideas and examples of how to earn more value- and context-driven impressions with your customers? Download our eBook for real-life examples 

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Topics: Customer Engagement, Customer Incentives, facebook, Access Development, branding, customer loyalty

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter

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