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How to Place and Keep Your Brand #1 in Consumers' Minds

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Billions are spent every year by brands trying to get to the front of consumers' minds. Marketing agency after agency comes up with grandiose campaigns and beautifully articulated ad copy to woo clients and sway consumers. But it's simpler than that. Truthfully, it's more obvious than that. This is how to place and keep your brand #1 in consumers' minds.

Why do people generally purchase whatever they purchase? It's rarely because that product is the best of its kind. Salesforce isn't #1 because they make the best CRMs. Harvard isn't #1 because it provides the best opportunity. These, and so many other #1's, are the best in their industry because they were first. Not necessarily the first product, but the first to meet some need.

If you're going to place and keep your brand #1 in consumers' minds, you've got to be the first something. Being first comes with insurmountable value: first impressions, familiarity, brand recognition, novelty, better experiences, problem solutions, advanced research and development, expertise, consumer attention, generally being ahead of the curve, and so many other benefits. If you're going to be #1, you've got to be first. Here are three ways to be first.

Be the First to Make a Product

Let's look at Kleenex. It doesn't matter what kind or brand of facial tissue you use, you call it the same thing. It's a Kleenex. If you blow your nose in it, it's a Kleenex. This synonymity of Kleenex and facial tissue came about because Kleenex was first. They're one and the same, because at one point Kleenex was the only facial tissue brand. They actually were one and the same. 90+ years later, their brand name is on the tip of our tongues, simply because they were first.

Xerox is synonymous with copy machines. It doesn't matter what the brand is, you call a photocopier a Xerox. Why? Because they were first!

The same goes for Clorox and bleach, along with a slough of other brands. By being the first to hit a market, you have the power of first impressions on your side. If used well, being first alone can catapult you to success. But once you're first, you still have to make sure you're keeping up and making the best marketing choices. Nothing is a magic bullet.

Wonder Bread wasn't first. Neither was Crest. Nike, Coca-Cola, Bud Light, Apple, Heinz, Google, Facebook - none of these titans were the first to create a product, but they're the first brands we think of in their respective categories. Being first to create a product can go a long way towards placing and keeping your brand #1 in consumers' minds. But it's certainly not the only factor.

Be the First to Provide an Experience or Solve a Problem

If I say "magic," what do you think of first? I'd bet the Harry Potter franchise (2nd place would be Disney). Why? Because Rowling, Scholastic, and everyone else involved created a literary experience like no other for that generation. It submerses you in a world arguably better than any other children's book (or otherwise). Rowling created an experience like no other, and it made her brand #1.

If I say "theme park," what comes to mind? 9 times out of 10, Disney is going to pop into your head first. Why is that? They weren't the first theme park. They didn't create the first animation or cartoon. But Disney and Disney theme parks were the first to create any kind of experience like it. Think about it.

There's more than 400 amusement parks in the U.S., but where do most choose to go? To Disney, of course! But why? Because Disney - what other answer do you need? They keep raising their prices year after year, and year after year they have more people enter through their parks. Disney is #1 because they were the first to create that kind of enveloping, childhood joy of an experience that can only be described as "magical."

Why is Google far and away the #1 search engine in the West? It's not because they were the first search engine. It's not because they're the best product on the market. It's certainly not because you can search privately on Google. It's because they were the first search engine to get you answers fast. By solving the problem of an existing market - slow and unhelpful search results - they provided an incredible online experience. Now they hold 67% of America's search volume.

To place and keep your brand #1 in consumers' minds, you've got to either solve a problem or provide the best experience on the market (preferably both).

Be the First to Contact Them

This is where the majority of brands have the most opportunity. Up to 50% of all sales go to the vendor who responds first. This means that even if you're not the best product, or the first product, you can have as much chance as any other brand to be first.

When consumers are getting into a market - need to buy a car, get business software, find a handyman, etc. - they research. They get on Google, and go down the first page of results, learning and inquiring about different brands. You have to be able to respond to this search before any of your competitors, because whoever responds the quickest has the highest chance of closing the sale. Some capitalize on this through PPC ads, but quick and ready communication might be the best bet.

How much is a customer worth to you over their lifetime? Could you stand to be quicker, to communicate faster, to provide information more easily? This is necessary if you want to place and keep your brand #1 in consumers' minds.

It's not an easy thing to place and keep your brand #1 in consumers' minds. If you're going to be #1, you've got to be first in other areas, too. You need to be the first product of your kind, be the first to provide a sought after experience or to solve a problem, or be the first brand to contact people who are looking to buy. Being #1 involves making a lot of right steps at the right times. But if you can be first in one of these three areas, everything becomes a whole lot easier.