🧑‍🔬 How This App Got Over 500M Downloads

Using The Halo Effect

Duolingo is the world’s most downloaded education app.

It’s become beloved, with over 500M app downloads.

They do it with The Halo Effect.

Here’s what I mean:

🧪 The Halo Effect

The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias in which a specific positive impression of a person or company positively influences your overall impression of that person or company.

🤳How Duolingo Uses The Halo Effect

Duolingo used to run expensive and well-branded TV ads, until they discovered the potential of the Halo Effect.

Duolingo uses the Halo Effect through their beloved owl mascot, Duo.

The mascot is the face of their social media.
He’s funny, hops on trends, and has an ongoing crush on Dua Lipa.
And in doing so, has racked up an incredible 9.9 MILLION followers on TikTok.

Duolingo calls it “unhinged marketing” and it’s paying dividends:

When people think of Duolingo, they think of the mascot and they capitalize on that positive impression in their ads:

But don’t worry, this isn’t just about having a lovable mascot…

🧠 How You Can Use The Halo Effect

The key to The Halo Effect is to play on your strengths and focus on what sets your brand apart.

For example:

  • Highlight your best-seller in your ads (like this)

  • Display testimonials and any certifications (like this)

  • Leverage celebrity endorsements (like we discussed previously)

  • Nail your brand messaging and brand personality (like Duolingo)

  • Use attractive people in your ads (like this)
    (I know it sounds icky but there are studies that show using attractive people in your ads influences people’s perception of your product)

  • Invest in high-quality design (like this)

The whole idea is to just lean into what makes your brand likeable.

Here’s the main question to consider:

If you were to ask your customer what’s the number one thing they like about your brand or comes to mind when thinking about your brand, what would it be?

For Duolingo, that’s Duo.

For you, that may a specific product, a feature, brand personality, customer service, or anything else.

Whatever it is, highlight it in your ads.

So with that in mind I challenge you to use the Halo Effect in your ads.

Find your strengths and highlight them in your next ad.

And let me know how it goes.

Until next time,


P.S: What'd you think of this week's newsletter?

If you've got a sec, I'd love your feedback. I want to make sure I'm writing content you actually find valuable. Just click below:

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Some Links You May Find Interesting:

Books I’m Reading: