RECOGNITION OR RECALL
Branding is about creating memories of a product or service. What we previous have experienced and learned have impact on how we behave and take decisions.
There are different types of memories but the marketing industry is focused mainly on recall. Almost all brand trackers are built on recall memories only, even though recognition memories are equally important.
Have you thought on how hard it is to recall and how easy it is to recognise something?
Try to remember how to drive to work. Trying to remember and recalling the trip is quite a tiresome process. But when you drive you will recognize everything without an effort and there will be no problem finding the way.
Think of how hard it is to recall all the products on a shopping list and how easy it is to fill up a shopping cart with things you need.
When you meet a new person it´s often very hard to remember his or her name. Often you need to hear the name several times before it sticks. But after the first time you met, you probably will recognize the person. You may not remember the name, but you know who it is when you meet him or her.
Decision-making is a really fast process
Recall is tiresome, slow and has limitations for the marketer, as top of mind usually only is a few brands. That makes it expensive to have recall in focus.
The reason recall is slow is that the recall memory is built on learning and practice, which take some time and repetition to attain. Recognition memory is quite different and built simultaneously on what you see, smell, feel or touch. It doesn’t involve complex memory paths of place, name, situation etc. That makes it much more accessible and the recognition information is easy and fast to retrieve and use.
Recognition is a positive signal
Your decisions are built to a large extent on intuition and emotions. We have certain built-in decision patterns the brain use and recognition is one of the biases.
If you recognize a product or an offering the brain creates positive impulses telling you it is good, just because the object is recognized. If you don’t recognize the object the brain intuitively tells you to be more careful to approach.
This should make you think
Your brand is probably directed by recall KPI´s. But in reality is the brand depending on recognition to work effective.
If you are trying to teach and learn your customers or aim to make them recall you in relevant situations you may be spending to much money. If you only try to teach and convince you may not be effective.
The purchase decision is often taken in a context where all brands are easy to find and recognition is in full play, directing you to explore many brands that you didn’t think of in the first place. A very common situation is entering a store with an idea of one product but leaving with another. Recall may not help you much if there is several recognized brands to chose from.
Implications for the brand director
Yes, knowledge is important in branding and so is awareness. They are KPI´s we have used for decades and also behavioral economics and Neuromarketing supports that they are key when it comes to decision-making.
But traditionally brand tracking and ad research are focused on recall and that may not be smart, as the memory is not good at recalling and decision-making is also affected by recognition.
A relevant question to ask for the Brand Director would be how important is recall? I would say it´s important in many situations. One example is early in the buying process when no thought or information process has taken place yet. Recall is good because it put you on a shortlist.
Take a look at your brand tracker. If one of the first questions are “What brands of the X category do you know of” you may need to rethink and improve your questionnaire.
Ask yourself how do we build recognition? That’s a completely different tool- box compared to working with the recall KPI. Just remember when we first used Personal Computers. It was complex with lots of commands you needed to recall. It was hard for many to learn. Now days the interface is intuitive with menus, decision aids and other things that helps you work on a recognition basis.
Start to think Recognition for your brand.