🧑‍🔬 How To Build Trust In Your Ads

Make the unfamiliar familiar

👋 Hey, it’s Josh from Psychology of Ads.

How’s it going? I’m off to Portugal later this week and looking forward to some time completely offline 😌

For anyone with a product that is hard to explain or not always believable you’ll love this week’s edition.

Hope you have a great week ahead!

Today’s ad:

Brand: HiSmile

Psychology Concept: Familiarity Heuristic

Days Running: 909 Days
(This gives an indication of how it’s performing)

Have you heard of the Familiarity Heuristic? 🤔

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

🧪 The Familiarity Heuristic

The Familiarity Heuristic refers to how people tend to have more favorable opinions of things, people, or places they're familiar with as opposed to new ones.

🤳 How HiSmile Uses The Familiarity Heuristic

HiSmile used familiar branding from the popular “explained” series from media outlet Vox on YouTube and Netflix.

Vox has racked up 12.1 million subscribers on YouTube through their “explained” series where they explain different ideas and concepts in the world.

Vox’s YouTube Channel

It’s become so popular that Netflix picked it up to create their own series on the platform:

Vox’s explained series on Netflix

Teeth whitening strips is a product that many can be skeptical about.

So HiSmile used the familiar branding of explained as a hook in their ad.

And the hook is magnetic:

  • The explained branding → familiarity

  • Cutting of teeth whitening strips → attention-grabbing

  • The person saying “Don’t do this to your strips” → curiosity

And the rest of the video shows an easy-to-understand comparison of using their teeth whitening strips vs not using them.

🧠 How You Can Use The Familiarity Heuristic

The key to the Familiarity Heuristic is leveraging what your audience already knows and recognizes to build trust, increase engagement, and convert prospects into customers.

People tend to prefer what feels familiar.

This might mean using familiar imagery, language, or concepts in your ads that your target audience already associates with positive experiences.

To do this, you have to be aware of the type of language and content your customers consume.

Just like HiSmile did with the explained concept - think about popular symbols, common phrases, or well-known scenarios that your audience can immediately relate to.

The Familiarity Heuristic works best when you subtly incorporate these elements into your ad to make your brand feel like a trusted, known entity in their lives.

This is similar to the Nostalgic Effect, which I wrote about two weeks ago. In that case, the familiarity is the nostalgic references being used in the ads.

Here are some other examples:

In this example, Our Place promotes their cookware by using the familiarity of the popular show, The Bear. This is a great example of using the Familiarity Heuristic in your copy, rather than just in your imagery:

And clearly it’s working for them - check out these iterations:

Another example is with clothing brand, Cuts. They make clothing geared towards tech works. They know the type of branding that would be familiar with their target audience and leverage it in a very clever way:

They immediately build trust and catch the attention of their target audience by using the familiar logos of famous tech companies.

So, how will you use the Familiarity Heuristic?

I want to challenge you to really think about the type of branding and wording that would be familiar to your target audience.

That’s how you build familiarity.

That’s how you build trust.

Lemme know how it goes!

Until next time,


Was this breakdown useful? 👀

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

P.S. I’m offering free 1:1 calls for marketers and business owners that want help strategizing and scaling paid social. If that’s you, reply to this email and let me know. Only 2 spots available, reply now to save your spot.