Brand Association: The Definitive Guide In 2021 (+ Top Examples)

Brands are quite fascinating entitles (in my nerdy and obsessive opinion).

On one hand, they’re a collection of distinctive assets and expressions designed to be memorable.

On the other hand, they’re a collection of meanings that come together in the mind of the audience to form a perception.

Are they assets and expressions or meaning and perceptions?

The answer is they’re both. You see, the assets and expressions manifest into meanings and perceptions through something called associations.

In this article, you’ll learn what brand associations are and how they assist in the development of brand reputation.

Brands are quite fascinating entitles (in my nerdy and obsessive opinion).

On one hand, they’re a collection of distinctive assets and expressions designed to be memorable.

On the other hand, they’re a collection of meanings that come together in the mind of the audience to form a perception.

Are they assets and expressions or meaning and perceptions?

The answer is they’re both. You see, the assets and expressions manifest into meanings and perceptions through something called associations.

In this article, you’ll learn what brand associations are and how they assist in the development of brand reputation.

What Are Brand Associations? (Practical Examples)

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What Is Brand Association?

Brand associations are the neural connections made by consumers between the brand and an image, idea, person, place, attribute or emotion.

These associated connections come together in the mind of the audience to form a meaning and perception about who the brand is, why it exists and why that should matter to them.

In other words, the collection of brand’s associations, are what defines the its reputation throughout the market.

Why Is Brand Association Important?

Brand association is critically important due to their impact on memory.

Brands don’t exist in physical or digital places. They’re don’t live in Times Square in New York, They don’t live on a website and they don’t live on a social feed.

Brands live in the mind of the audience and it’s here that meanings and perceptions are formed through associations.

The more positive associations a brand can align itself to relative to the position it aims to own, the more likely it is to build that meaning and reputation in the audience’s mind and ultimately cement that position.

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How Are Brand Associations Formed?

Associations are formed with brands based on brand experiences

As consumers come into contact with the brand whether directly or indirectly, the experiences they have forms the basis of the association.

For example:

Let’s say you decide to go to a new restaurant in town with your significant other. You have a booking for 8p.m. but you arrive at 7.45.

The charming host greets you at the door, and tells you your table is almost ready, and offers to seat you at the bar while you wait with a complimentary glass of champagne.

The interior décor is cozy but sophisticated and there’s a great vibe in the restaurant among the other casual but smart diners. 

Throughout the dinner the staff are friendly, the service is outstanding, the food is excellent and the chef comes out to ask if everything is ok.

You leave the restaurant with a belly full of food and wine and a handful of very important associations that will likely influence not only whether or not you’ll come back, but what you’ll tell other people.

What Is An Example Of Association?

Based on the experience you had at the restaurant, you’ll have consciously and subconsciously formed many different associations, which may include.

It’s a friendly place

It’s warm and cosy

It’s in a trendy part of town

They have excellent attention to detail

They use quality ingredients

They attract a smart crowd

The people are very cultured

The environment is relaxed

They put their customers first

It’s a stylish venue

Their staff are pro’s

It’s an enjoyable night out

All of these associations are stored to memory and come together to form your perception of the brand. The more memorable and positive the association, the more likely you’ll remember and recall the brand.

Both the brand equity and reputation can grow from these associations and related perception, either through revisits to the restaurant, or brand advocacy.