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Ensuring brand saliency in ads

A major part of advertising all relies on the ability to bridge a relationship between the ad and the brand. What good is an ad that does not make viewers remember the brand?

The list is long when we look at branding ads through the lens of visual attention. Many ads make mistakes in focusing solely on the narrative at the cost of brand attention. So let’s first have a look at ads and how they perform, and then what could have been done to improve it!

Branding ads with poor performance

The list is long on ads that perform suboptimal or outright bad on brand attention. Let’s take a couple of examples.

Image result for branding eye-tracking
The 303 product ad produces nice attention to the main character, but the branded product in the bottom corner does not produce any attention at all. Customers will see the ad and the character, read the text, but not connect it to the brand! Brand recall will be virtually zero.
In this picture, the brush gets the majority of the decision, but the brand in the bottom receives very little attention. It is not sufficiently visually salient to pull viewers in. People will see and remember the curly brush but not the brand.

Avoid the corner of death!

The observant reader will see that the two ads have something in common. The brand is shown in the bottom-right corner. In advertising, this is known as the corner of death. That is, any information shown in the bottom right corner is the least likely to be seen. Across multiple studies, we see that attention to items here is getting around 5% attention, at best!

Why is this the case? Why do we have a corner of death for attention?

It might have to do with the fact that we are used to reading from the top left and end up in the bottom right (if ever). This means that most things we are presented with, we scan from top-left.

This also means that anything you present outside that primary scan path, you need to fight an extra battle for ensuring attention! That brand, product, message, or call to action needs to be extraordinarily visually salient. So it’s not that it’s impossible, but you’re making the battle harder by putting your brand in the bottom right corner.

The cure: iterative, rapid testing

The solution: it’s right here! If you want to ensure that your brand gets visual attention, start by testing multiple copies! Some immediate ways to do it:

  • test 5, 10, 100 or more versions of your ad — test different designs to see which gets the best attention
  • try different positions for your brand, product, message, and other elements
  • test different types of brand looks and sizes
  • throw in some oddballs — they may look ugly, but they help you learn what drives attention to the brand
  • iterate, iterate, iterate: every ad is unique, and although you have design rules of thumb, having data for your particular ad is equally important

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