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You were always on my mind September 30, 2009

Posted by David Gillespie in branding, strategy.
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In a meeting yesterday as I sat dreaming up ideas to make my wealthy clients even more money, someone blurted out “We need to ensure they stay top of mind” which I didn’t like at all. It sits alongside “the big idea” and “single-minded proposition” as a decidedly 20th century approach, and the reality is none of the brands people really want to be have anything to do with being top of mind.

The top-of-mind approach in fact is a challenger brand’s mentality. If you aspire to be top of mind you’re clearly not winning in your category, and you’re likely spending a good deal of time and energy just trying to compete. It’s the same as making a case for a piece of work focused around time with brand, while never pausing to consider just how much time is spent without.

The trick to both of those things is that the brands that are really thought of as top of mind, the Apples and Nikes and what have you, aren’t top of mind at all. In fact if they were to become top of mind, it would be a step back in some ways.

Those brands transcend any notion of “mind” and instead ingrain themselves in culture. I don’t just think of Apple when I’m shopping, and I don’t just think of Nike when I see someone run. They are the brands everyone else wants to be because nobody pauses to think about them.

So don’t bother with top of mind. Save that for the guys in second place, they don’t know any better anyway.

image courtesy of Esparta with thanks to compfight.

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Comments»

1. Brandhabits - October 6, 2009

Totally agree David. Unfortunately, when top of mind becomes an objective it then stretches across the approach to all media. When it reaches online I think it gets even worse! I’ve posted about a similar topic re: branding as well as online marketing.

2. David Gillespie - October 7, 2009

Cheers Andy, thanks for stopping by. Do you have a link handy for some of the stuff you’ve written around this?

3. Daniel Oyston - October 7, 2009

I agree but I would add that top of mind is a “nice to have” but not an “essential”. It shouldn’t be the main goal. If you achieve your goals, and top of mind happens or is a by-product, then great.

Top of mind is not just a challenger brand’s mentality but if you do achieve top of mind, and you have made it your goal, then your mentality switches to one of defending your position. That’s when you take your eye of the ball.

4. David Gillespie - October 8, 2009

Nice insight there Dan, and on the money as always. The second you feel like you have laurels to rest on you lose!

5. marnsmarket - October 8, 2009

For some reason, this post takes me way back to one of my first ad agency jobs (before lots of people reading this were born!) Mid ’80s, a holding company called Beatrice owned lots of great brands like Samsonite, Tropicana, LaChoy, and many more. It wanted to use those names to make “Beatrice” mean quality, so it could transfer that aura to lots of lesser-known products it also owned.

After $30 million+ it worked, but a palace revolt from the lead brands aborted the effort before part two could ever happen. But as part of that, we used a tag line I still love: after warmly showing those name brands, it said “Beatrice. You’ve known us all along.” I think the sense of understated confidence in that phrase is the kind of place a brand wants to be. Not “top of mind” in a constant marketing tug of war sense, but more of a “there when it counts” importance to the consumer.

You don’t walk around thinking about Apple or Nike, but they’re the first ones into your mind when it matters…because YOU put them there. I sure as heck have no magic way to GET there, but I sure agree on putting the old cliche to rest. “Top of mind” is the uninvited guest who just showed up. Brand loyalty is the guest you wouldn’t have the party without.

6. David Gillespie - October 9, 2009

““Top of mind” is the uninvited guest who just showed up. Brand loyalty is the guest you wouldn’t have the party without.”

That is quote of the God-damn century! Brilliant!


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