The Exposure Effect states that repeated exposure to stimuli for which people have neutral feelings will increase the likeability of the stimuli. (Also known as mere exposure effect, repetition-validity effect, frequency-validation effect, truth effect, and repetition effect.) For example, the more a song or slogan is repeated, the more popular it is likely to become. The strongest exposure effects are seen with icons, people, and auditory stimuli. The exposure effect gradually weakens as the number of presentations increases. The exposure effect only applies to things which have a neutral or positive association, as things with a negative association repeated will often amplify negative perception.
Familiarity plays an important role in aesthetic appeal and acceptance. People like things more when frequently exposed to them. For example, initial exposure to Gustave Eiffel with the Eifffel Tower (first image below), Picasso with his Cubist works (second image), and Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum (third image) were all met with great resistance. However, now all three are widely accepted as brilliant and beautiful because familiarity with the work increased and resulted in greater popularity and acceptance.
The exposure effect has always been a primary tool of politicians. Ubiquitous positive depictions increase the likability and support of political leaders. Imagine if my Google search for images of President Obama produced multiple images of a confused or angry leader! In fact, consider what is happening during our 2016 elections, specifically the media’s portrayal of candidates and how repetition has affected this.
all images from Google Search: President Obama; 28 Oct 16
Of course advertising, design, and marketing use the exposure effect constantly. This is where consistency is also important. When something is different from the repeated exposure, the effect is nullified. See the logos below, all of which have gained significant brand equity even to the point of lifestyle identification being intertwined with a brand's persona. Though the logos have changed over the years, there have rarely been significant shifts without consequence.
Beyond logos, advertising can use the exposure effect to enhance perceived credibility and generally enhance the way people think and feel about a message or a product. This can be done with everything from a logo to an entire campaign including advertising, social media, and collateral.
-all text above paraphrased from Universal Principles of Design; Lidwell, Holden, Butler
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