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Definition: Brand association

What is brand association?

Brand association is the mental connection, feelings, and responses that occur when you think of a particular company, its products, services, and ethos. For example, Apple uses elegant, minimalist branding to promote the simplicity of its products. Adidas creates evocative logos and messaging to encourage associations with energy, vitality, and athleticism.

Cultivating positive brand associations is key to a company’s success. It helps promote brand recall and brand equity and increases customer retention and loyalty.

Brand association usually elicits an immediate response; negative or positive. This reaction can be based on a variety of criteria. This includes:

  • Brand identity
  • Brand assets
  • Company reputation
  • Personal experience of the company
  • Influence of friends and peers
  • Responses to previous marketing, advertising, and social media campaigns.

[Pro Tip] Discover the secrets of some of the world's most successful brands and tap into their knowledge and expertise to develop a brand that stands out — check out our blog series.

How to build a positive brand association

Define your brand voice and identity
Today’s customers want to align themselves with brands that share their values and they feel a connection with. This is only possible if you effectively define and communicate your brand voice. Your audience should have a clear understanding of how your brand helps its customers and what it stands for from the get-go.

Take a look at every touchpoint your customer has with your company and make sure your brand’s unique personality and character shine through. This must be consistent throughout the entire customer journey; from your customer service to your website landing pages; from your packaging to your tone of voice.

Choose the right partners
Forming and nurturing the right partnerships is an important part of building positive brand associations. The companies you collaborate with and endorse should be squeaky clean in terms of their own reputation and the other brands they are connected with. They should be able to clearly demonstrate that they share the same values and beliefs as you and the connection between the two companies must be authentic, credible, and communicated well.

Be memorable
In a media-saturated world it is a challenge to stand out from the crowd, but stand out you must. We’ve mentioned the importance of presenting a cohesive brand identity already. Take an objective look at your marketing strategy and pinpoint some creative ways you can stick in your customer’s minds in a positive way. Think about how you’d like people to engage with your brand and how you want them to feel when they think of your products. Then devise creative ways of conjuring up those emotions and experiences in your marketing communications.