Awareness and preference are two different things. Customers can know a product without coveting it. GEICO, for instance. The insurance company’s relentless use of a gecko as a company spokesman have created a market that knows GEICO exists. Unfortunately, there is nothing about the lizard that emotionally resonates with those most likely to switch. I’m never sure there was.

The repeated use of the reptile is one of the reasons why GEICO remains in third place despite outspending market leaders Allstate and State Farm.

It gets worse. Now the GEICO pig is back. Again.

During Monday Night Football, GEICO once again trotted out that whining pig. Later that evening, the pig made yet another appearance with a street luger. Does GEICO see this pig as its new equity marker?

Geico pigPeople may recognize GEICO’s pig from earlier ads and they may even make a mental connection back to the brand. But how does that peculiar pig or that tired gecko create preference?

Memo to GEICO: If you are worried that customers are don’t know you, stop. The market is plenty aware of the GEICO name.

Now is the time to look beyond barnyard animals, lizards and caveman to give the market an emotional reason to covet your brand.