How Far Can Reputation Take You?

Does a strong brand mean a company can get away with being downright average when it comes to advertising effort? This question was posed to Will Headley – System1’s very own market research agony aunt.

Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

“Sure, brand can and should have some effect. If you are lucky enough to have a familiar, well-loved brand and product, then you may be able to use that to help drive or reinforce feeling in the ad and, as a result, back onto your brand. In other words – a well-loved brand can mean people are more favourably disposed to the advertising. But they can also be disappointed if the brand doesn’t deliver.

M&M’s is a good example of such a virtuous circle: people know and like the M&M’s characters, classic Fluent Devices. M&M’s ads have used them relentlessly and consistently across decades, and they are often positioned towards the top of the charts. They certainly don’t hit 5-Stars every time, but there are very few other brands that have such high brand Feeling delivered through such a consistent creative approach.

The point is that brand can be one important variable but the ad itself certainly matters – and how you use the brand within the ad is key.

If a company is lucky enough to have a well-loved brand, then there is an argument for setting the company’s ad targets even higher. The ideal starting point would be ad auditing and brand monitoring to see whether their historic ads really are as strong as they think. This is also likely to reveal plenty of variance in scores too – unless they tend to just re-use one great ad, which can be a solid strategy”

Stay tuned as we ask Will more of your burning branding questions. He may not be able to help you decide on the perfect anniversary gift for your spouse or how to get over your childhood crush but – by golly – does he know a thing or two about advertising.

Have a question for Will? Get in touch



At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident, creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful ad testing platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand testing tool which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.

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