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The Creativity Effect in Brand Awareness

Patrick Holmes

Senior Digital Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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People need to know about your business to buy from your business. It's a clear, simple reason to promote brand awareness. If you prefer formality, one study found that "brand awareness and brand loyalty have a strong positive association with purchase intention." Results from another study "indicate strong support for measures of perceived quality, brand loyalty, and brand awareness as antecedents of firm performance, customer value, and willingness to buy." In other words, people familiar with your brand are people more likely to buy from you.

If more sales sound attractive, you may wonder how to establish awareness and affinity beyond simply spending a bunch of money. In a word, "creativity." Creative campaign themes, creative images, and creative messaging all make viewers more likely to pay attention to, remember, and develop affection for your brand. This all results in budget efficiency and an outsized effect in your market. The concept of "creativity" includes a lot of elements that need unpacking. So let's get started.

The Value of Creativity

A report in Harvard Business Review suggests that "a euro invested in a highly creative ad campaign had, on average, nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign." Based on a study on social network ads, here are the "creativity" components that make the advice more actionable:

Dimensions of Creativity

  • Elaboration - Providing a high amount of detail through the concept or message of the ad 
  • Artistic value - Ads with high production quality that contain appealing elements
  • Originality - The unique or unexpectedness of an ad
  • Flexibility - The ability to link the subject of an ad to a variety of ideas or uses
  • Synthesis - Ads that connect unrelated concepts or ideas

These creativity dimensions exert varying influence over your brand awareness and sales. In the studies, campaigns that used elaboration of artistic value on their own exerted a far more significant influence than any of the others. "Originality" did not exert much influence on its own but significantly increased the influence of elaboration and artistic value when added to each. The combination of elaboration and originality nearly doubled the sales impact of the overall campaign average. Ad agencies tended to use originality and artistic value the most. Creating elaborative campaigns may offer an opportunity for divergence and great positive effect.

Examples of Creativity in Use


Wrigley's 5 gum released a series of commercials elaborating on the sensation the gum causes when you chew it. This ad highlights the gum's tingle using an elaborative metaphor involving a multi-sensory experience of vibrations from a giant piano device. The elaborative metaphor significantly deepens the product's connection to a relatable, perceived sensation.

Artistic value

This Christmas ad from Mercedes Benz uses artistic value to attach a specific mood to the brand's recognition. It also uses a bit of flexibility with the connection it makes to a Christmas tree.

Mercedes Benz


Old Spice's entire multi-year advertising campaign involving incredibly surreal and unexpected situations demonstrates the use of originality.


Some of Geico's recent commercials link homeownership to unrelated concepts in a creative way. One commercial takes an ant infestation problem and flips it into a "problem with aunts." Then it shows a few aunts incessantly nagging the homeowners. Another flips the word "fencing" into a different meaning:


This pasta brand does a great job making a memorable association between its selection of different kinds of pasta and a woman's hairstyle with point-of-sale marketing on the box:

Pasta Brand

Start Building Your Brand

Creative ads increase a viewer's motivation to dwell on and understand your ad. The entertainment or informative value they derive from your ad improves their attitude toward both the ad and your brand. Improving the attitude to your brand results in revenue gains over time. With a greater understanding of the importance of creativity and supported by the Brand Awareness advertising solutions offered by AdRoll, you can confidently start your path to long-term revenue growth.

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