Launching a new brand or product into the market can seem scary. Many product markets are is fiercely competitive, as consumers are bombarded with a constant stream of choices – so breaking through the noise as a new brand or product can be daunting.

This is where the mere exposure effect (popularised in 1968 by Robert Zanoj’s landmark study) emerges as a potent ally, offering a psychological insight into how familiarity can tip the scales in your favour.

What is the Mere Exposure Effect

The mere exposure effect is a psychological principle that suggests people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. We like to choose:

  • What we have already experienced
  • Brand names that are familiar to use
  • Brands that other people* have recommended.

* this could be friends, family, written testimonials or tiktokers.

In other words, the more your target audience is exposed to your brand, the more they will be familiar with it, and subconsciously feel like they know it. This concept aligns perfectly with the goals of brand awareness marketing, which aims to make your brand feel familiar to potential customers.

Real Life Examples

  • Commercials and Ads: Have you found yourself choosing a particular brand, but you’re not sure why? Likely it is because you’ve seen or heard their commercials or ads repeatedly. This is the mere exposure effect in action. By consistently putting your brand in front of your target audience, you can increase their familiarity and, in turn, their preference for your products or services.
  • Menu Choices: Consider when you go to a restaurant or cafe multiple times, and you become strangely compelled to always order the same dish. This happens because the familiarity of the dish creates a sense of comfort and preference. Similarly, when customers encounter your brand frequently, it becomes their go-to choice.
  • Music: Do you find that you are singing along to a new song that you didn’t really like but it’s ‘grown on you’? Thanks Mere Exposure Effect for making me sing Nicky Minaj
  • Travelling: So many travellers gravitate to the Golden Arches when they are in unfamiliar territory to ‘know’ what they are eating.

Leveraging the Mere Exposure Effect in Brand Marketing

Regularly showcase your brand to your audience to make them feel like they know it well, boosting their confidence to buy from you.

  • Consistent Branding: Use brand guidelines to maintain a level of consistency and cohesiveness across all your marketing. Don’t be afraid to put your logo on your Facebook posts, ads, email footers – everything.
  • Content Marketing: Be known for something with your content – avoid the vanilla! Make your audience think – ‘that’s the brand who….’ . Build an emotional connection with your content by showing what your brand stands for. We remember what we feel.
  • Social Media Presence: Have an ‘always-on’ brand campaign – particularly on launch, where your message is simple, consistent, and engaging. Aim for viewers to see it 5x (you’ll see this in your metrics) for memorability.
  • Email Marketing: Send out regular newsletters, and personalise them to make them memorable. Take the reader on a journey with entertaining or educational content to keep your brand and the value it has provided for the reader in their mind.

How will you know that your brand awareness is growing?

  • Reviewing your brand strength through engagement on socials – are you gaining more followers?
  • Increased ‘Direct’ website traffic (people typing your URL into their browser)
  • Increased organic search traffic from searches containing your brand or product name.


It’s time that your brand got familiar.

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