Every Impression Counts: Counting Brand Impressions Over the Course of a Day

By Brandon Carter | Updated on May 13, 2014 2:01:00 AM

I consider myself “hard to get” for marketers. I don’t watch live television very often. I don’t listen to much terrestrial radio. I don’t click online ads or open emails that appear to be purely marketing (unless I've opted in intentionally). In light of yesterday’s post about brand impressions and customer engagement, I decided to conduct an experiment.

In my mind, I figure I’m exposed to 100 brands a day, tops.

So I gave myself a challenge one day last week: when a brand consciously enters my brain, write it down.

Turns out I see close to 100 brands before I even leave the house in the morning.

The Takeaway

I noted 504 brands, many of whom I encountered multiple times over the course of a day. I was exposed to thousands more that I didn't consciously note. 10,000 in my atmosphere probably isn't too far off.

Before I get to the list, here's what I learned: There's a LOT of clutter. Even people who go out of their way to avoid marketing are going to see thousands of brand impressions. If your eyes are open, or you can hear, you're being exposed to competing messages.

As a marketer, understand that not every one of these is a true competitor to your brand - a person seeing a shoe commercial during an NBA game isn't going to interfere with their awareness (or lack thereof) of your insurance company, contractor business, or membership association.

Instead, think of it as a whole. From the moment we wake up until we close our eyes for sleep, we're inundated with an avalanche of brands. Thousands upon thousands, some we seek out, some we're not even consciously aware of. But they're all in the mix, and most of them get at least a tiny fraction of the real estate in our minds. These matter, and the sum of all these parts is a thick cloud to cut through. It's a tough crowd to mix your brand up with.

But it's possible. As mentioned in the previous post, in consumer engagement value is king and context is god.

Each of us has a select few brands that we reach for. These are the ones that pop up consistently, multiple times a day or multiple times over the course of a few days.

The brands we're loyal to are the ones who provide some sort of value that's easily accessible when we need it. Every other message is noise.

The Method & Rules

When compiling my list, I made a few rules to maintain my sanity:

  1. If it entered my mind, it's included. It might be a full article I read, or it could be a bumper sticker I passed. If I consciously saw it, I wrote it in my notebook.
  2. Each brand is included only once. Otherwise every other entry would be "Apple iPhone" or "Spotify."
  3. What qualifies as a brand? If it's trying to sell me something, I've included it. Chris Paul is as much a brand as the Los Angeles Clippers (while his teammate JJ Redick isn't).

The List

My routine in the morning is almost always the same: wake up, grab iPhone, Google News (which gives me an overview of the news of the day, with multiple news sources for me to choose from and topics of my choosing), Salt Lake Tribune, then Reddit over breakfast while the kids watch PBS cartoons. Sounds simple, but there's a lot of brands crammed in there.

  1. Apple iPhone
  2. Google News
  3. CNN
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder (big win over Memphis)
  5. Fox 13
  6. Sporting News
  7. Sooner Sports
  8. Salt Lake Tribune
  9. Daily Oklahoman
  10. Michael Jackson
  11. BBC
  12. The Amazing Spider Man 2
  13. NASA
  14. Safari
  15. Chevron
  16. Herbalife
  17. Snapchat
  18. Reddit
  19. Los Angeles Clippers
  20. Memphis Grizzlies
  21. Gawker
  22. Denver Post
  23. University of Utah
  24. Kansas City Chiefs
  25. NAACP
  26. Obamacare
  27. Hogle Zoo
  28. Utah Jazz
  29. Real Salt Lake
  30. Stanford
  31. BYU
  32. SEC
  33. NFL
  34. Craig Ferguson
  35. Free Comic Book Day
  36. Fox TV
  37. 24
  38. LDS Church
  39. CNN
  40. Fox News
  41. MSNBC
  42. Stephen Colbert
  43. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  44. KUED
  45. Peg + Cat
  46. Olivia
  47. Colbert Report
  48. David Letterman
  49. John Stewart
  50. The Daily Show
  51. Suave
  52. Head & Shoulders
  53. Dove
  54. Jergens
  55. Gillette
  56. SLC Twilight Concert series
  57. SLC Living Traditions Festival
  58. Gordon Monson
  59. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
  60. PBS
  61. Dr Seuss
  62. The Cat in the Hat
  63. Atta Cat Cat Food
  64. Curious George
  65. Granny's Delight Old Fashioned Bread
  66. Cascadian Farms
  67. Cocoa Puffs
  68. Archer Farms
  69. Simply Balanced
  70. Kroger Private Selection
  71. Quaker Oats
  72. Cars (Pixar Movie)
  73. National Geographic

Next I went to my kid's school event where, thankfully, most of the marketing messages were primarily on the shirts and hats of the adults:
School event:

  1. My kid's elementary school
  2. TrueMoo choclate milk
  3. Local coffee brewer
  4. Lego
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  6. University of Oklahoma
  7. Notre Dame
  8. Crayola
  9. LuluLemon
  10. Sweet N Low
  11. Splenda
  12. Equal
  13. Coffee-Mate
  14. Spiderman
  15. The Avengers
  16. Spongebob Squarepants
  17. Nike
  18. Adidas
  19. Seattle Seahawks

I'm over 100 and my day is just beginning. Next my commute, where I focus intensely on the road, because Salt Lake drivers are fairly adventurous. Part of it I stream sports radio from my home state of Oklahoma, then I switch to streaming music.

  1. Toyota
  2. Saturn
  3. WWLS The Sports Animal (Okie sports talk that I stream from my iPhone)
  4. Dr. Sanjay Gupta
  5. Fowler Dodge
  6. The Law Offices of Rod Poulston
  7. American Red Cross
  8. Oklahoma Lottery
  9. ABB Storm Shelters
  10. Kevin Durant
  11. Russell Westbrook
  12. Chris Paul
  13. Blake Griffin
  14. Real Estate (the band, I turned off the sports talk)
  15. Girls in Hawaii
  16. William Fitzsimmons
  17. Black Sabbath
  18. Queens of the Stone Age
  19. The Black Keys
  20. Rollins Band
  21. CR England
  22. KSL TV
  23. Mini Cooper
  24. BMW
  25. Honda
  26. Skechers
  27. Cole Haan
  28. Mazda

At my desk, where I consume a ton of media and never stop streaming music:

  1. Access Development
  2. Samsung
  3. Microsoft Windows
  4. Oklahoma Sooners Football
  5. Baylor Bears Football
  6. Fellowes
  7. Adobe
  8. Adobe Reader
  9. HP
  10. HubSpot
  11. Shoretel
  12. Salt Lake County
  13. Smith's Grocery Store
  14. Wise Marketer
  15. Utah Business Magazine
  16. Marketo
  17. Klear
  18. Utah Pulse
  19. Facebook
  20. Google Music
  21. Spotify
  22. Google Analytics
  23. Wunderlist
  24. Google Chrome
  25. Microsoft Outlook
  26. Microsoft Word
  27. Spark
  28. Firefox
  29. Salesforce.com
  30. Diet Coke
  31. Google Docs
  32. Google+
  33. Sanford
  34. Dr. Scholls
  35. Wordpress
  36. Johnny Cash
  37. Mobile Commerce & Payment Innovations
  38. PRNewswire
  39. Howlin' Rain
  40. PRDaily
  41. YouTube
  42. DMA
  43. Aquaphor
  44. ERA
  45. Reebok
  46. Microsoft Word
  47. Pinterest
  48. PRWeb
  49. Disqus
  50. Gmail
  51. Moleskine
  52. Digg
  53. Overstock.com
  54. Kleenex
  55. TalkWalker
  56. Goodreads
  57. Best Buy
  58. Amazon
  59. Woot
  60. Arcade Fire
  61. Silicon Slopes
  62. Microsoft Excel
  63. LinkedIn
  64. Goal Zero
  65. Hootsuite
  66. AT&T
  67. From You Flowers
  68. Aveeno
  69. 1-800-Flowers
  70. Thomson Reuters
  71. Sam's Club
  72. Coca Cola
  73. Dupont
  74. Rubbermaid
  75. Vocus
  76. Armitron
  77. AspenPress
  78. Money2020
  79. MarketingSherpa
  80. Tumblr
  81. Jim Rome
  82. IBM
  83. Santana
  84. The Horrors
  85. Sams Club
  86. Smith's Marketplace
  87. Soundgarden
  88. Microsoft PowerPoint
  89. Runkeeper
  90. Under Armour
  91. Billy Joel
  92. Elton John
  93. Instagram
  94. Keith Urban
  95. Sara Bareilles
  96. Blake Shelton
  97. Luke Bryan
  98. Keifer Sutherland
  99. 24
  100. CHVRCHES
  101. Bing
  102. Ellen
  103. Willie Watson
  104. HARO
  105. Ebony
  106. Examiner

This will represent the dozens of clients & prospects I encounter during the day at work. As much as I'd love to share out our client list to the general public, I'm kind of a fan of being employed. Therefore, enjoy this representation of 150 names:
*

Commute home:

  1. COEXIST (Is this is a company or just bumper stickers inspired by U2?)
  2. ESPN
  3. Fox Sports
  4. NPR
  5. Trax (Utah light rail)
  6. Front Runner
  7. Beats by Dre
  8. Kindle
  9. Chevrolet
  10. First Option Mortgage
  11. Salt Lake County Library System
  12. Harry Potter
  13. Rdio
  14. McDonalds
  15. Wendys
  16. Burger King
  17. Golden Corral
  18. Pep Boys
  19. O'Reilly Auto Parts
  20. Ford
  21. Mitsubishi
  22. Chili's
  23. Red Lobster
  24. Red Robin
  25. Olive Garden
  26. Lone Star Taqueria
  27. Maverick
  28. 7-11
  29. Sinclair
  30. Toys R Us

During the evening at Home:

  1. HBO
  2. Bose
  3. Maytag
  4. Target
  5. Smuckers
  6. The Lego Movie
  7. Star Wars Episode VII
  8. LucasFilms
  9. Wal-Mart
  10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (my son's current obsession)
  11. Kingsoft
  12. Sony
  13. Toshiba
  14. Wired
  15. Rolling Stone
  16. FIFA
  17. NBA
  18. TNT
  19. Netflix
  20. Cartoon Network
  21. Tweetdeck
  22. Meadow Gold
  23. Carnation
  24. Wikipedia
  25. NCAA
  26. Sportscenter
  27. Game of Thrones
  28. Silicon Valley
  29. Veep
  30. The Goonies
  31. Cracked.com
  32. Buzzfeed
  33. NBC News
  34. Calvin Klein
  35. Lorde
  36. Vampire Weekend
  37. Monsanto
  38. Van Halen
  39. Lou Reed
  40. Ray Lamontagne
  41. Will Ferrell
  42. Shaquille O'Neal
  43. Charmin
  44. Crest
  45. Sonicare
  46. CBS
  47. Johnson & Johnson
  48. Brooklyn Nets
  49. Miami Heat
  50. Indiana Pacers
  51. Burt's Bees
  52. Community
  53. Parks & Recreation
  54. Kevin Durant
  55. Adam Silver
  56. Toronto Blue Jays
  57. Cosmos
  58. Neil Degrasse Tyson
  59. Beavis & Butthead
  60. Miley Cyrus
  61. Office Space
  62. IMDB
  63. Daft Punk
  64. James Blake
  65. Wikileaks
  66. Canva
  67. Kanye West
  68. Kim Kardashian
  69. David Bowie
  70. Haim
  71. Beck
  72. Arctic Monkeys
  73. John Fogerty
  74. Calvin Klein
  75. Hanes
  76. Eminem
  77. Home Depot
  78. Salt Lake Running Company
  79. Taco Bell
  80. Sprint
  81. AT&T
  82. T-Mobile
  83. Jay Z
  84. State Farm Insurance
  85. Kia
  86. Neighbors
  87. Samsung Galaxy
  88. AAA
  89. Chesapeake Energy
  90. Spalding (Can you tell I was watching the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers?)
  91. Mountain Dew
  92. Dr Pepper
  93. Universal Orlando
  94. Harry Potter
  95. Corona
  96. Hornitos
  97. Patron
  98. Anonymous
  99. Hugo Boss

Want to see how companies like yours are cutting through the clutter? Download our customer engagement eBook today:
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Topics: Customer Engagement, Merchant Discount Network, Viewpoints, brand impressions, customer loyalty

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding.

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