Brand recognition denotes the ability of consumers to recognize a brand based on one or more of its identifying characteristics, such as a product or service, ad jingle, logo, packaging, or any other visual or audio element. Typically, it means identifying the brand when the name of the brand is absent. Brand recognition is built over time, and it requires ongoing, consistent brand presentation to achieve it. Once a brand has high recognition among its audiences, it is a strong sign that the brand’s marketing and advertising activities are effective, helping to differentiate the brand and make it stand out as unique and identifiable.
For example, remember a cute puppy associated with tissues? Yes, that is Kleenex brand recognition, an excellent case study about how brand elements can create strong associations that support brand recognition, in this case the soft, cuddly puppy symbolizing the extreme softness of Kleenex tissues.
5 stages of brand recognition
There are five stages of brand recognition that typically make up theories of how brand recognition works. The first stage is brand rejection. This is when a consumer actively avoids a brand due to some kind of negative experience or association. The next stage is brand non-recognition, where the consumer does not have bad associations with the brand, yet simply does not recognize the brand or its market presence against competing brands. This is followed by brand recognition, in which the consumer is aware of the brand and able to identify it amongst competitors. This is a good sign that the consumer has had enough exposure and positive association to freely recognize the brand. Next is brand preference. Here, the consumer not only recognizes the brand but prefers it to competing brands. All things being equal, they will seek out this particular brand and choose it, given the opportunity. The final stage of brand recognition is brand loyalty. At this stage, the consumer is committed to using the brand above all others. They will actively seek out and choose this brand, even when it might be more difficult or inconvenient to do so. At this stage, the consumer is also recommending the brand to friends and family, and may seek to interact with the brand on social media and in other ways, thereby strengthening their connection with the brand even further.