December 11, 2012

Start by Building Brand Recognition

By Ed Avis

When you think of beer in a Mexican restaurant, you think of Dos Equis, Corona, Tecate, or a few other well-known Latin brands. You don’t think of Coors Light.

The people at MillerCoors would definitely like to change that. They’re pouring millions into a promotional campaign that includes sponsoring Latin soccer teams and buying advertising in media directed at the Hispanic market.

What MillerCoors is trying to do is build brand recognition in a new market. They know that Hispanics are not currently as familiar with Coors Light as they are with traditional Latin brands, so their campaign is designed to put their beer into the minds of those potential customers.

“Hispanic fans are central to the growth of Coors Light,” said Jackie Woodward, vice president of media and marketing for Coors Light in an article in Ad Week (to read the whole article, click here)

Do shoppers of Latin heritage who see the Coors Light ads run right out and buy a six pack of Coors Light? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean the ads don’t work; in fact, that’s not even what MillerCoors expects to happen.

Here’s what they want: The next time such a shopper is in the grocery store, instead of heading right to his regular favorite brand, he might consider Coors Light instead. He might not buy it the first time or even the tenth time, but eventually he might give it a try. If that happens, the ad campaign was successful.

Different from Immediate-Response

A good brand recognition campaign raises awareness, builds credibility, and, only after those first two goals are accomplished, increases sales.

A brand recognition campaign is different from an immediate-response campaign, which is designed to get someone to take action immediately. For example, if a plantain company ran an ad that said, “Buy a carton of our plantains and we’ll rebate you $5,” that company would be expecting immediate reaction. If that same company ran an ad discussing why their plantains are fresher, sweeter, and better for cooking with than other plantains, they would be striving to build brand recognition. (Naturally, an ad that does both can also be effective.)

Building Credibility

A key part of brand recognition is credibility. When a consumer -- let’s say she’s a restaurant owner -- sees an ad for a product, she immediately thinks, perhaps subconciously, that the company has some stability. Companies that run effective, consistent ad campaigns demonstrate to potential customers that they are serious businesses with staying power.

The advantage of this becomes apparent when two sales reps call on that restaurant owner. They’re both selling the same type of product, but the company that one of the salespeople represents is a regular advertiser in the publication the restaurant owner reads. Which salesperson will get the sale? Many factors play into her decision, but if everything is about equal, she will probably feel more comfortable dealing with the company that has demonstrated its stability by advertising.


An important element of a brand recognition campaign is consistency. One ad or one public relations event will not cement a brand into anyone’s mind. Rather, a good campaign includes a series of ads, combined with public relations and other promotions, that consistently tell the brand’s story.

Think about Dos Equis beer. It was a well-known brand among Hispanics, but barely registered outside of that community. Then Femsa, which owned the brand at the time, embarked on its now famous “World’s Most Interesting Man” campaign. They did not run one or two ads with the cool old guy – they ran ad after ad after ad. Now Dos Equis is considered a “hip” beer to drink among many demographics. Femsa’s ad brand recognition campaign worked marvelously.

Long-Term Advantages

The advantage of a well-run brand recognition campaign is that it can stick with potential customers for a long time, allowing the brand owner to try other forms of advertising and promotions to bump up sales. Once the foundation of a solid brand name is laid, other promotions are much more effective.

Ed Avis is the publisher of el Restaurante Mexicano. He has been involved in advertising sales and publishing for 20 years. You can reach him at or 708-218-7755.

December 11, 2012