It’s clear that salience has now been successfully rebranded as Mental Availability.
And getting your product in the right place at the right time as Physical Availability.
So how about calling the need for brands to make a connection Emotional Availability?
You never know, it might catch on. Availability is the bias of choice for most people in marketing. Ironic how the heuristic that comes most readily to mind is the one about things coming most readily to mind.
There are different ways of thinking about Availability.
If something can be recalled, it must be important.
Your first idea is likely to be the best.
We believe what we’ve heard most recently on the news.
For brands, it comes down to making things easy for people. Easy to mind, easy to find. Lightening the mental load.
But of course that isn’t, and never was, the whole story.
It might be true if people are making a choice entirely on auto-pilot. In that case, there could be one brand alone that leaps out of your unconscious screaming “me, me, me!”.
But in most categories there are going to be contenders for your money. So there’s a choice to be made.
That’s when it comes down to the Why more than the What. Like why do you remember some brands more favourably than others?
It’s the experiences you have, the associations you form, the feelings you get.
This almost gets ignored in some discussions around distinctive assets. Of course they’re important. When a brand turns up in people’s lives, they have to know it’s you. But to say assets are all that matters implies people’s only need in life is to make life easier.
It’s the argument of those more comfortable staying on the surface of the debate and sticking to hard data.
The truth is softer. We all have our deeper needs, of course we do, a combination of our biological and social drives. And in these needs we have tensions that grow over time. And what we really, really want is to resolve those tensions.
That’s what brands do. It’s also why they get remembered.
But for a brand to meet people’s emotional needs, it has to be emotionally available to them.
And the people it targets have to be emotionally available back. They have to appreciate the value of what a brand is offering them, its benefit.
Then you get what I’m now calling a moment of closeness. Read more about it here.
None of this is going to happen if they don’t notice you. Attention always comes first.
But for a connection to be made, however fleeting, both sides have to be available to it, emotionally. The sign has to say ‘open’. Like in any promising relationship.
Except you’re definitely not allowed to call it a relationship.