Say it Again – The Power of Repetition in Print
- October 15, 2018
Much like war, advertising can be broken down into two different goal oriented types. Tactical advertising has short term goals like bringing a customer in for a temporary sale, while strategic advertising seeks to imbed the idea of the brand or product in the potential customer’s mind for the long term. This idea of long term presence in the customer’s conscience is called permanence, and it can be an essential aspect in the growth and survival of your business.
There are a number of ways to establish permanence through advertising strategies and marketing campaigns. One of the most effective of these is the use of repetition. Repetition is the reason that companies maintain the same logo, slogan, or jingle over years or even decades. A catchy tune may gain a customer’s attention at first, but the reason that they begin singing it to themselves and attaching it permanently to a particular brand name is due to the repetition with which the tune is presented.
Research Supports Repetition in Advertising
There is an art to the effective use of repetition, though, as improper use of repetition can turn customers off and sour their view of the company. The proper amount of repetition can result in the establishment of brand familiarity, but too much repetition can lead to consumer fatigue wherein the customer becomes disinterested or even actively avoids the brand. This balance was coined in the 1970s by a Toronto university professor as the Two-Factor Theory.
Studies show that repetition is most effective in reaching customers when a product is new or unfamiliar to them. As such, a company can make the best use of repetition during one-off, introductory situations such as events and trade shows. In such cases, repetition works well on media walls and on walk away flyers and handouts. Repetition also works well in single exposure opportunities like mailers, door-to-door drop-off flyers, and drive-by stationary signs.
In 1975, two University of Wyoming researchers found that customers tend to associate the use of repetition in advertising with high quality products, services, and companies. The Journal of Consumer Research later confirmed this idea, finding that customers also tend to believe that products advertised through repetition are better buys.
Repetition in One Shot Instead of Over Time
The number of times that a customer must be exposed to a particular ad before they view a product favorably is called “effective frequency”. While effective frequency most often refers to repeated exposure to an entire ad or campaign across time, the idea that customers respond positively to repetition can be extended to the use of particular terms, ideas, or images in print. Top Of the Mind Awareness, or TOMA, is the advertising psychology name for the credibility and familiarity created by repetition.
In terms of a single printed advertising product, it can be difficult to effective employ repetition. Repetition of the type that’s created when a commercial airs on television a number of times has the advantage of benefitting from the time that passes in between each airing of the commercial. This recovery time reduces the risk of the consumer fatigue that a company wants to avoid. Because a single printed advertisement does not have the benefit of the passage of time, companies must be more creative in their efforts to avoid consumer fatigue.
While customers may tire of a repeated logo or slogan if it is the focus of their attention, they tend to be more receptive to endless repetition when it is used as a background. This strategy is often used on media walls like the ones we see behind celebrities having their pictures taken on red carpets or at press conferences. The same principle can also be applied to flyers and single page advertisements, if the logo or slogan is used as a “wallpaper” in the background of the advertisement focal point.
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Another, more subtle, means for employing the principle of repetition in the space of a single printed advertising area is to repeat a word, phrase, or image in different graphically separated sections of the printed material. Essentially, if we appear to spread the repeated item out a little bit more, it creates the same type of break that commercials enjoy. Ideas can be repeated as well in a more implicit way by presenting the same concept in a repetitive manner but through the use of different wording and/or a combination of text and graphic representations.
Although it may take a little more creativity and imagination to make repetition work in a single printed marketing product, there’s no denying that repetition is a valuable tool in print advertising. Repetition creates permanence; permanence creates familiarity; and familiarity creates customer comfort. A comfortable customer views your product or service with confidence and that confidence helps to build strong consumer relationships.