"Share of mind" is an approach to measuring the way consumers think about specific brands within a product category. If a consumer thinks about brand X more frequently than brand Y when considering a purchase of soup, for example, brand X has achieved a greater share of mind. An important objective for marketing teams is to build and protect share of mind through effective positioning and communication.
According to consultancy Brand Institute, brand positioning is “the mental space a brand should occupy in the minds of the target audience.” To maximize share of mind, the marketing team needs to convince consumers that the brand offers the best combination of features and benefits that meet their needs. Communication alone cannot maximize share of mind. The consumer’s experience in buying and using the brand reinforces other brand qualities.
Consistency of image and experience are essential to improving share of mind. According to brand consultancy Mind/Share, “products are purchased because of what they mean, not because of what they do.” Marketers need to develop a brand identity and communication program that presents and reinforces the same brand message consistently across all media.
The challenge for marketers is to build a brand that is "top of mind." According to the website Economy Watch, consumers only think of a limited number of brand names when they are considering a product category. Building a category-leading brand means achieving top of mind status with the greatest number of consumers. Some brands, such as Hoover, Aspirin or Kleenex, have achieved such strong top of mind status in their sectors that they have become generic terms for their categories.
Share of mind does not necessarily equal share of market. According to the Brand Channel’s Branding Glossary, “market share measures the width of a company's market position, share of mind can be said to measure its depth.” However, building a brand that is top of mind supports and facilitates other marketing activities, because consumer awareness and preference for the brand is already high.
In business-to-business marketing, marketing teams aim to increase share of mind by operating thought leadership programs. By publishing authoritative discussion papers or articles on issues important to their market sector, they aim to position their organization as the expert in the sector. That reputation builds confidence and trust in customers, helping create top of mind status.