Is there a science to building a brand?

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Some believe advertising a brand is an art, fueled by creative that elicits aspiration and affection in consumers. Others believe it’s a science — a mathematical and analytical challenge to serve the right message, to the right consumer, at precisely the right time. In one of its most ambitious studies to date, NCS attempted to settle the debate for good and try to identify the best practices to building a brand. Using a trove of more than 6 billion rows of data, NCS discovered there is a proven method for building a lasting, winning brand.


  • Advertising: It Works! Perhaps the most significant result of the study is advertising does indeed work. New brands need to advertise consistently to grow. The moment they decrease their advertising, sales decline. Another example: In-store promotions don’t create a lasting effect unless they’re paired with advertising.
  • The More You Advertise, The More You Sell. There is a positive correlation between Share of Voice and Share of Market. The more you advertise, the more you sell.
  • Brands Have One of Three Distinct “Signatures.” Each brand has a distinct “signature” that describes its customers’ buying behaviors, and they fall into one of three categories: Variety, Standard and Dominant.
  • Creative (Really) Matters. While the study sought to reveal a formula for creating a strong brand, the results showed that there’s incredible value in the art of advertising creative. Creative is responsible for more than half the sales impact of advertising, making it the most influential force in all of advertising.
  • Creative and Audience Targeting Are Often Misaligned. Marketers often develop creative with a specific audience in mind, but NCS research shows that marketers often lose sight of that specific audience as the creative is built. The creative and audience are misaligned — either the creative doesn’t resonate with the audience being targeted, or it never reaches the audience most likely to respond to it. It’s better for brands to test their creative in-market, and then hone and adjust their audience targeting accordingly.
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