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A Model of Brand

Awareness and
Brand Attitude
Advertising Strategies
Larry Percy
Lintas: USA
John R. Rossiter
Australian Graduate School of Management

A model is described that helps guide advertising strategy, based
upon careful attention to brand awareness and brand attitude. In this
model, an important distinction is drawn between recognition brand
awareness and recall brand awareness. Brand attitude strategy is
seen as reflecting an interaction between a potential consumer's
involvement with the purchase decision and the underlying
motivation to purchase. Applications of the model are discussed.

Contrary to what may seem to be obvious, purchase intention is rarely

the direct object of advertising communication strategy. Although it is
certainly true that purchase intention and behavior is the ultimate goal
of advertising, more often one must be preconditioned by first raising
the salience of a brand, and then forming at least some tentative at-
titudes toward it before purchase is considered. As a result, it is im-
portant, from both a practical and theoretical perspective, to understand
the dynamics involved in generating brand awareness and attitude.
Toward that end this article dicusses the strategic implications of the
model proposed by Rossiter and Percy (1980, 1987) for executing ad-

Psychology & Marketing Vol. 9(4): 263-274 (July/August 1992)

© 1992 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. CCC 0742-6046/92/040263-12$04.00
vertising that will meet particular brand awareness and brand attitude
communication objectives.
In this model, brand awareness is treated as a dichotomy that ad-
dresses both recognition and recall objectives, and brand attitude is
discussed in terms of the interaction between the underlying motiva-
tions driving behavior in a category and the involvement associated
with the purchase decision. As discussed in detail in the following,
motivation is conceptualized as either positive or negative, involvement
as either low or high. It therefore follows that eight primary strategies
are available for advertising execution, based upon combinations of the
two brand awareness strategies and the four brand attitude strategies
(see Figure 1).

Frequently overlooked in discussions of advertising strategy, brand
awareness is a crucial consideration. It may be thought of as a buyer's
ability to identify a brand within a category in sufficient detail to make
a purchase. It is important to remember that sufficient detail does not
always require identification of the brand name. Often it is no more
then a visual image of the package that stimulates a response to the
brand. Moreover, recall of the name is not necessarily required because
brand awareness may proceed through brand recognition. When a
brand is recognized at point of purchase, brand awareness does not
require brand recall. This is a key point in the consideration of brand
awareness as a communication objective.
In fact, this difference is often misunderstood by marketing and ad-
vertising managers. The difficulty relates to the essential difference
between recognition and recall, a difference that is extremely important
to advertising strategy. Brand recognition and brand recall are two
separate types of brand awareness. The difference depends upon the

Brand Recognition Brand Recall
(at-point-of-purchase) (prior to purchase)

Low Involvement Low Involvement
Informational Transformational

High Involvement High Involvement

Informational Transformational

Figure 1. Two-factor communication models.


communication effect that occurs first in the buyer's mind: category
need or brand awareness.

Recognition: Brand Awareness First

In many purchase situations, the brand is quite literally presented to
the consumer first, and this is what stimulates the consumer to consider
the relevancy of category need: Do I really need or want this? The
sequence in the buyer's mind is: Recognition of the brand reminds me
of category need. It is important to understand here that a brand may
actually fail a recall test, yet be recognized in the store at the time of
the purchase decision and bought.
A good illustration of what we are talking about here is the process
most people go through when food shopping. Very few shoppers actually
carry lists; and those who do will only have category reminders (e.g.,
trash bags, salad dressing, etc.), not brand names, on their list. Shoppers
rely upon visual reminders of their needs as they scan the packages on
the shelf and brands are recognized. Clearly, then, when purchase se-
lections rely upon recognition, advertising should feature the package
as it will be seen in the store.

Recall: Category Need First

In other decision-making situations, the brand is not present. A cate-
gory need is experienced first, and then the consumer relies upon mem-
ory to generate possible solutions. In this case the consumer must recall
a brand, or several brands, from memory in order to make a decision.
For example, if a family decides to go out for lunch at a fast-food res-
traurant, they are unlikely to drive around until they recognize one
they would like to patronize. Instead they will recall from memory
available alternatives, select one, and then proceed there for lunch. As
a rule, the first recalled brand (given a favorable attitude) will get the
business. In this case, it is important to see and hear the brand name
repeatedly linked to the category need in advertising.
As we can see, brand awareness is not a simple issue. It has at least
two major components; and, in fact, one can even look at recognition
brand awareness as being either visual recognition or verbal recogni-
tion. The important thing to understand is that brand awareness is a
function of whether or not recognition ofthe brand drives category need
(recognition awareness) or whether category need drives brand aware-
ness (recall awareness). This distinction is critical to effective adver-
tising strategy.
This question is relevant to all advertising and promotion situations.
An advertiser is always trying to create or maintain brand awareness
so that the brand is salient for the buyer in a purchase situation. With-


out the appropriate brand awareness response, advertising is unlikely
to be effective.


Like brand awareness, brand attitude is also a necessary communica-

tion effect if brand purchase is to occur. However, we are treating at-
titude in a somewhat different manner from that which is familiar to
most researchers dealing with consumer behavior. Generally speaking,
the literature in consumer psychology looks at attitude in an expect-
ancy-value manner, following the formulation of Fishbein (cf. Fishbein
& Ajzen, 1975). But such a formulation is really too limiting.
The Rossiter and Percy model looks at attitude as referring to a
buyer's overall evaluation of a brand with respect to its perceived abiity
to meet a currently relevant motivation. This may appear to the reader
to be very much like the Fishbein formulation, but there is an important
difference. Our model acknowledges and accepts the general notion of
cognitive beliefs interacting with evaluations to form overall evalua-
tions of a brand, but posits that the brand evaluation must be related
to a currently relevant motivation in the sense that Fennell (1975,1978)
argues all consumer's behavior is motivated. As a result, there are four
important characteristics to be understood about brand attitude:-

1. Brand attitude depends upon the currently relevant motivation.

As a result, if a buyer's motivation changes, so might the buyer's
evaluation of a brand.
2. Brand attitude consists of both a cognitive and affective compo-
nent. The cognitive, or logical belief, component guides behavior
and the affective, or emotional feeling, component energizes the
3. The congitive component may be comprised of a series of specific
benefit beliefs. In and of themselves these are not the attitude,
but rather the reasons for the brand attitude.
4. Brand attitude is a relative construct. In almost any product cat-
egory what one is looking for is the brand that, relatively speaking,
meets the underlying motivation better than alternative brands.
As long as a motivation to behave exists, buyers will choose some
brand that best meets that motivation from the alternatives of
which the buyer is aware.

Brand attitude is not a simple construct, but it is critical to our

understanding of effective advertising strategy. In the remainder of
this article we will deal in more depth with this notion, beginning with
what we mean by involvement and motivation as it relates to brand


attitude, and then how all of this may be implemented in generating
more effective advertising strategies.
Here we are dealing with one's ivolvement with a purchase decision,
reflecting the cognitive aspect of brand attitude. Involvement is cate-
gorized along the lines developed by Nelson (1970), an economic per-
spective classifying a brand purchase decision as either low involve-
ment, where trial experience is sufficient, or high involvement, where
information search and conviction is required prior to purchase. The
formulation of low involvement is compatible with Ehrenberg's aware-
ness-trial-reinforcement model (1974). The high involvement formu-
lation assumes a perceived risk that may be either economic or psy-
chosocial (Bauer, 1967; Peter & Tarpy, 1975).
Overall affect for a brand, as Wyer (1974) has argued, is only one class
of beliefs about that brand. Clearly there are other motivations that
may stimulate a brand purchase intention. Fennell (1975, 1978) has
suggested that one may look at consumer responses to particular brands
in relation to a brand's ability to fulfill one of a set of either positive
or negative motivations. These motivations are seen by Rossiter and
Percy (1987) as part of an energizing mechanism that helps relate per-
ceived benefits of an advertised brand with the underlying needs of the
Basically, the Rossiter and Percy model (1987) defines brand attitude
as a summary belief that links the advertised brand to a specific mo-
tivation. These five negative and three positive motivations provide the
dimensions of motivation that drive the energizing mechanism linking
a brand attitude to a motivation. These motivations are detailed in
Table 1.


A model of eight strategic directions results from an interaction first

of brand awareness with brand attitude; and then, within brand atti-
tude, of involvement and motivation. We have seen this underlying
structure illustrated in Figure 1. As shown, one may be looking at an
advertising strategy for one of four brand attitude strategies with either
a recognition or recall brand awareness objective. We have already
discussed the strategic implications of the two brand awareness ob-
jectives. Now it is necessary to look more closely at the strategic
implications of the four brand attitude components of the model (see
Figure 2).
In the model, one looks at the affective component of brand attitude
as dividing those consumers driven toward purchase primarily by an


Table 1. Eight Basic Motives
Motivation Motivating Process
1. Problem removal Seeking solution to a current problem
2. Problem avoidance Seeking to avoid an anticipated problem
3. Incomplete satisfaction Seeking a better product
4. Mixed approach avoidance Seeking resolution to a conflict caused by
both positive and negative attributes in the
same product
5. Normal depletion Seeking to maintain regular supply of product

Seeking extra physiological enjoyment from
6. Sensory gratification the product
Seeking extra psychological stimulation from
7. Intellectual stimulation the product
Seeking an opportunity for social reward from
8. Social approval the product

information need to satisfy a negative behavioral motivation or a trans-

formational desire to enhance a positive behavioral motivation. This
distinction is directly linked to the consumer's underlying behavioral
motivations associated with category need. One utilizes an informa-
tional strategy only when the advertised brand is linked to one of the
five negatively originated motivations: problem remov&l (e.g., most pain
relievers), problem avoidance (e.g., most detergent products), incom-
plete satisfaction (e.g., most new and improved products), mixed ap-
proach avoidance (e.g., most low-tar tobacco products), or normal de-
pletion (e.g., any loyal brand that one runs out of, which retailers

Negative Positive
drive drive
reduction enhancement
Type ot Decision

LOW INVOLVEMENT • aspirin •soda

(trial experience sufficient) • light beer • regular beer
• detergents • snacks and
• routine dessert
Industrial • cosmetics

HIGH INVOLVEMENT • housing • vacations

(search and conviction • professional • fashion
required prior to purchase) calculators clothing
• cars (print) •cars
• new industrial (television)
products • corporate image

Figure 2. Pour main strategies for brand attitude based upon type of motivation and
type of decision.


Table 2. Specific Advertising Tactics for the Low Involvement/Informational
Brand Attitude Strategies
Strategy Tactic
Correct emotional portrayal of the Use a simple problem-solution format
It is not necessary for people to like
the ad
Adequate logical support perceived Include only one or two benefits or a
brand delivery single group of benefits
Benefit claims should be stated
The benefits should easily be learned
in one or two exposures

advertise). Transformational strategies, on the other hand, are used

only when the advertised brand is linked to one of the positively orig-
inated motivations: sensory gratification (e.g., most prepared dessert
products), intellectual stimulation (e.g., most personal computers), or
social approval (e.g., most cosmetic or status goods).
To illustrate how important this distinction between underlying mo-
tivations can be, consider the recent advertising for Snickers candy
bars. As one might imagine, the' reason most people eat candy bars is
for the taste—sensory gratification, a positive motivation. But Snickers
has uncovered a second motivation from some behavior (or potential
behavior) in the category. Their advertising suggests you eat a Snickers
bar in the afternoon to help get you by until dinner. This benefit claim
reflects the negative motivation of problem removal—the problem is
late-afternoon hunger, the solution, a Snickers bar. As Tables 2 and 3

Table 3. Specific Advertising Tactics for the Low Involvement/

Transformational Brand Attitude Strategies
Strategy Tactic
Correct emotional portrayal of the Emotional authenticity is the
motivation key element and is the single
The execution of the emotion
must be unique to the brand
The target audience must like
the ad
Adequate logical support for perceived Brand delivery is by
brand delivery association and is often
Repetition serves as a build-
up function and a
reinforcement function


suggest, quite different tactics are required with a low involvement
informational strategy reflecting the use of a candy bar to stay hunger
pains versus a low involvement transformational strategy where you
extol the great taste of a candy bar.
The cognitive component of brand attitude in the model, as we have
seen, is a function of the buyer's involvement with the purchase deci-
sion. But with involvement anchored to purchase decision, it follows
that it must be related to a particular target audience. For example,
even the most expensive product (such as a Rolls Royce) may be low
involvement to a rock star. Involvement, and thus the cognitive clas-
sification for brand attitude, must be developed for both an advertised
brand and specific target audiences.
In a rather interesting application of this logic, Bayer aspirin was
able to take a low involving decision for a mass audience and target a
high involving niche. Ordinarily, the choice of an aspirin brand is low
involvement. But Bayer was able to capitalize upon recent medical
findings that suggest aspirin is good for people with heart problems. In
a very moving piece of advertising, where a man who recently had a
heart attack is shown with his wife in a delivery room where she is
having a baby, Bayer has been able to target a segment of the market
where the usage decision is high involvement. Thus, with different
strategies, they are able to market both a mass market and a smaller
segment based upon the degree of involvement with the decision.
As these examples suggest, the typology of four brand attitude strat-
egies resulting from this interrelation of motivation and involvement
necessarily suggests certain particular targeted recommendations for
each. These are only summarized briefly in Tables 2-5, but the inter-
ested reader will find a detailed discussion of each in Rossiter and Percy
(1987). For the purposes of this article we will review only the major

Authentic Emotional Portrayal of the Motivation

With the transformational strategies, emotional authenticity in the
execution of the advertising is critical. In fact, if one considers the low
involvement/transformational strategy, a positive emotion is actually
the only benefit that is associated with the advertised brand. With
informational stategies, correct emotional portrayal is still important,
but less so than the information provided. Here the correct emotional
portrayal usually follows a negative to positive emotional problem solv-
ing sequence, much as we saw in the Snickers example.

Attitude Toward the Advertising Itself

Another distinction related to motivation is that when a transforma-
tional strategy is used, it is obviously essential that the target audience


Table 4. Specific Advertising Tactics for the High Involvement/Informational
Brand Attitude Strategies
Strategy Tactic
Correct emotional portrayal of the Correct emotional portrayal is
motivation very important early in the
product life cycle but less so
toward maturity
The target audience must
accept the ad's main points,
but need not like the ad itself
Adequate logical support for perceived The target audience's initial
brand delivery attitude toward the brand is
the overriding consideration to
take into account
Benefit claims must be pitched
at an acceptable upper level of
brand attitude (do not
Benefit claims must be
convincing (do not
inadvertently underclaim)
For target audiences who have
objections to the brand,
consider a refutation
If there is a well-entrenched
competitor and your brand has
advantages on important
benefits, consider a
comparitive approach

Table 5. Specific Advertising Tactics for the High Involvement/

Transformational Brand Attitude Strategies
Strategy Tactic
Correct emotional portrayal of the Emotional authenticity is paramount
motivation and should be tailored to lifestyle
groups within the target audience
People must identify personally with
the product as portrayed in the ad
and not merely like the ad
Adequate logical support for perceived Many high involvement
brand delivery transformational advertisements also
have to provide information
Overclaiming is recommended, but
do not underclaim
Repetition serves a build-up function
and a reinforcement function


like the execution itself, regardless of their opinion of the brand. With
informational strategies, on the other hand, this is not necessary. We
might remember here, for example, that such irritating commercials
as Wisk's "ring around the collar" and Charmin's original "Mr. Whip-
pie" each helped their brands to significant increases in market share.
It is interesting that in general all the studies in which attitude toward
the advertising has been shown to have contributed significantly to
attitude toward the brand, the products were generally advertised fol-
lowing a low involvement/transformational strategy: beer (Rossiter &
Percy, 1980) facial tissue (Mitchell & Olsen, 1981) and soft drinks
(Shimp & Yokum, 1982). Advertising for low involvement/informa-
tional products simply does not need to be liked.

Adequate Logical Support for Perceived Brand

Delivery on Motivation
A third distinction concerns the cognitive component of brand attitude
strategies. Here one is precisely interested in consumer processing of
the ad. A low involvement strategy really only needs to be processed
partially, in other words, only tentatively believed, such that an ex-
perimental trial occurs. What this implies is that copy claims in low
involvement executions should be stated (via informational strategies)
or implied (via transformational strategies) in the extreme. Because
these claims need only be learned and not necessarily accepted, a more
extreme claim is more likely to be attended to and learned. This follows
McGuire's (1969) idea of "ask more, get more."
On the other hand, with high involvement strategies, the Sherif and
Hovland (1961) notion of assimilation contrast or social judgement the-
ory seems to apply. Here careful execution of copy to refiect a target
audience's prior or initial attitude makes the most sense (i.e., within
their "latitude of acceptance"). Again, in terms of processing, now we
require full processing: In other words, the copy claim must not only
be learned, but believed and accepted as well before an intention to
buy occurs. As a result, the cognitive tactics involved in the creating of
high involvement advertising, especially in the high involvement/
informational case, are much more detailed than with low involve-
ment strategies.

Application of the Quadrant Dimensions as Dichotomy

It would appear that Rossiter and Percy are proposing that the four
brand attitude strategies represent functionally distinct models. Al-
though it may be suggested that the dimensions involved actually could
be considered as continua rather than as dichotomies, Rossiter and
Percy argue that studies of consumer behavior would generally identify
a target audience as exercising either a try-it-and-see type of decision


(a low involvement decision) or one where they would require convinc-
ing before trial (a high involvement decision).
If one were to find a case where there were in fact dual decision
models within the same target audience, and only one communications
campaign is practical, one should opt for the more conservative high
involvement strategies. Although this is definitely the safer choice, the
advertiser should nevertheless be aware that because high involvement
strategies are generally more complex, they may be somewhat less
effective strategies than low involvement ones for those members of the
target audience utilizing low involvement decisions.
In the same way, by identifying the main motivation for a purchase,
it becomes rather straightforward to decide whether the predominant
executional focus should be informational or transformational. A truly
mixed case should rarely occur outside of the high involvement/trans-
formational strategy. Because of the high risk attached to purchase
here, even though the purchase motivation is principally positive, ex-
ecutions must still provide some level of information in order to provide
the consumer with some rationale for purchase. To be sure, one can
deal with these mixed cases of strategy by utilizing both sets of appro-
priate tactics, but the resulting execution is likely to be much more
difficult to effectively develop.


Rossiter and Percy (1987) have presented a 2 x 4 communication model

based upon an interaction of brand awareness seen as recognition versus
recall based and brand attitude seen in light of the traditional cognitive
and affective components of attitude. The cognitive dimension utilizes
the concept of involvement or perceived risk attached to the purchase
of a brand. Following Nelson (1970), the model takes advantage of an
economic theory that classifies brand purchase decision as either low
involving, where trial experience is sufficient, or high involving, where
search and conviction are required prior to purchase. Involvement con-
ceived of in this way was shown to be highly dependent upon target
The affective dimension utilizes the dominant motivation underlying
brand purchase. Strategies based upon this motivation are classified as
either being informational or transformational. Utilizing Fennell's
(1978) motivations, Rossiter and Percy suggest informational strategies
associated with negative drive reduction states—problem removal,
problem avoidance, incomplete satisfaction, mixed approach avoidance,
or normal depletion; and transformational strategies associated with
positive drive enhancement—sensory gratification, intellectual stim-
ulation, or social approval.
Following this model in the development of brand awareness and


attitude strategies enables one to create better tailored, more effective
advertising based upon careful consideration of what works best in
advertising communication.


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Larry Percy, the corresponding author, is with Lintas: USA, 30400

Van Dyke, Warren, MI 48093.