Today everyone knows that to be found online you have to be in the top ten search results in Google – the venerable first page – for any search terms related to your product or service. Why? A very small fraction of users go past the first page of Google’s search results. So if you are not in the top ten, you are almost invisible in the online search world.
Larry Page of Google invented the PageRank algorithm to rank pages for relevance to specific search terms. PageRank is one of the key variables in a complex formula that ranks the billions of pages in Google’s index. In general, the higher your website’s PageRank the higher your page will rank in search – everything else being equal.
PageRank determines where your website ranks online, but what determines the success of a product or brand in the real world? What are the top brands or companies that you can recall for a product or service category? Which ones do you seek when you go shopping? What names come to mind when you think of watches or cameras, jeans or colognes, MP3 players or mobile phones, cloud computing or social networking? What names come to mind when a customer thinks of your product or service category? Where do you rank in your customer’s mind?
The answer of course comes from Marketing 101 – and it is called mind share. As it turns out mind share of a brand is very important and if you are not in the top ten you might as well not exist :
Mind share, or the development of consumer awareness or popularity, is one of the main objectives of advertising and promotion. When people think of examples of a product type or category, they usually think of a limited number of brand names. For example, a prospective buyer of a college education will have several thousand colleges to choose from. However, the evoked set, or set of schools considered, will probably be limited to about ten. Of these ten, the colleges that the buyer is most familiar with will receive the greatest attention. (from Wikipedia)
And so with due apologies to Larry Page and Google, allow me to coin “MindRank” – a new word for our digital age that neatly melds the concepts of mind share and PageRank. And here is my definition :
MindRank is the sum total of all the thousands of known and unknown factors, both objective and subjective – ranging from product attributes and price to design and user experience – that determines where a product, company or brand ranks in a customer’s mind.
Of course, while PageRank is a precise number derived from an algorithm, MindRank is an abstract concept invented merely to convey a useful analogy. If you are a product designer or brand manager you must constantly strive to improve your product’s or brand’s MindRank. Someday, someone may be able to quantify all the factors that determine MindRank. In the meantime, it is useful to remember that just as in online search, ranking in the top ten results in the minds of your customers for your product category is a key factor for success in any market. So how does one go about improving MindRank? A great question and a topic for another post – but would welcome your thoughts in the comments below.