How to make your customers remember you

Use behavioural science to improve the level of your brand awareness

Ana Bibikova
3 min readJan 20, 2022


In 1933 a young doctor, Hedwig von Restorff set an experiment that became a blast in the scientific community. Why should you care 90 years later? Because Von Restorff effect explains how and why people would remember your product.

This is how it works.

Photo by ALAN DE LA CRUZ on Unsplash

Doctor von Restorff was trying to decode the nature of memorability: why people easily remember some things and struggle with remembering others She ran a simple test: she gave participants a text consisting of random strings of 3 letters interrupted by one set of 3 digits. The initial array looked like this:

jrm, tws, als, huk, bnm, 153, fdy…

Then she waited for 2 minutes and asked participants to record what they could recollect.

The result was pretty much predictable: participants were able to recall digits 80% better than letters.

But it was not proof yet. What if these particular participants were just great in Math?! So, Doctor von Restorff ran another set of tests all the way around. Now the strings of digits were interrupted by letters.

The result: this time participants could recall letters considerably better than digits.

These experiments became known as “Von Restorff effect” which basically explains something that you probably knew intuitively long ago. We remember things that stand out. The unexpected. The unmatched. By now, when neuro-science has advanced much further, we know an explanation for that effect. Our brain doesn’t register everything that is going on around us — it would be too energy consuming. Instead, it gets only a small part of data that is streamed through the sensors (eyes, ears, nose, etc.) and makes relevant predictions based on previous experience. Basically, if we see one letter our brain knows long before we even realise it, that we are probably going to see the text. This is a fulfilled prediction, everything went well — and our brain starts focusing on more relevant stuff. Like understanding the meaning of the letters, eg. reading.

But imagine we expect to see a duck in the pond — and instead see a giraffe. This is not what our…