What influences your purchasing habits? What runs through your mind when you’re hunting for new stuff, whether browsing the web or staring down the shelf? When shuffling through your options, what strikes you? More than likely you’ll find yourself pulled toward brands which stand out; names that are easily recognizable simply because you’ve seen them somewhere before.

The mental stickiness of certain brands is no accident. Rather, it is the result of a careful, calculated approach to creating and maintaining customer awareness.

Seasoned shoppers are far from stupid. They’re not oblivious to being baited; they can practically feel the tug of advertisers’ attempts to draw cash from their wallets. The difference between branding techniques that succeed and those that fail is often not a matter of subtlety, but a customer’s willingness to engage with a brand’s narrative.

Customers know you want them to believe they need your product. If you want to bypass that innate wariness and convince them to mentally morph their consumer’s indecision into desire, you must appeal to their rationality. You have to stroke their sense of reason with logic. And how is that done best? Branding.

A brand may be as small as one word, but a well-known brand name shouts volumes about a product’s reliability.

For a company to achieve widespread positive recognition or even fame for its product, it follows logically in customers’ minds that highly recognized brands (such as Nike and Apple) must be doing something very, very right. A customer looking to spend hard earned cash to fulfill a need or satisfy a desire is more likely to accept a product that’s tried and proven by the masses than risk uncertainty and potential dissatisfaction with an unknown name.

Besides a sense of trustworthiness, a highly recognizable brand also offers a certain degree of social capital; a “style factor” if you will. Popular clothing and tech brands donned by celebrities and others that are considered trendy boost product value with a layer of bonus appeal unimaginable by lesser-loved brands. For a brand, the privilege of being in vogue adds massive value, resulting in equally huge profit margins.

Branding done right proves value, stylishness, and reliability – factors which combine to transcend a product and create something, bigger, better, more fantastic – a stand-out brand. Customers no longer settle for the product itself, instead they reach for the lifestyle a product offers. To win big, you must sell your customers more than a product. You must sell an ideal: all the ease, comfort and pleasure your product has the potential to provide. Building a superb brand remains perhaps the most rational and effective method of achieving this.

For more info on how to optimize brand awareness, check out this article.