The word “brand awareness” in marketing describes the degree of familiarity and recognition that your target audience has with your brand. High brand awareness brands are typically described as “trending,” “buzzworthy,” or just “popular.” When marketing and promoting your business and goods, especially in the beginning phases of a venture, building brand awareness is essential.
In actuality, brand awareness is an imprecise notion, despite its apparent clarity. Brand awareness will probably irritate marketers and business owners who want to measure performance in clean and tidy numerical forms.
Products and services that maintain a high level of brand awareness are likely to generate more sales. Consumers confronted with choices are simply more likely to buy a name brand product than an unfamiliar one.
Consider the soft drink industry. Removed from their packaging, many soft drinks are indistinguishable. The giants in the industry, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, rely on brand awareness to make their brands the ones consumers reach for. Over the years, these companies have employed advertising and marketing strategies that have increased brand awareness among consumers, and that has directly translated into higher sales.
This higher rate of brand awareness for dominant brands in a category can serve as an economic moat that prevents competitors from gaining additional market share.
Why is Brand Awareness Important?
- Brand awareness fosters trust.
In a world where consumers rely on extensive research and others’ opinions before making a purchase, brand trust is everything. Once consumers bond to your brand, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases with little to no forethought — which then bridges the gap between trust and loyalty.
Brand awareness establishes that brand trust. When you put a proverbial face to your brand name, consumers can trust it more easily. Brand awareness efforts give your brand a personality and outlet to be sincere, receive feedback, and tell a story. These are all ways that we, as humans, build trust with one another. The human/brand relationship isn’t any different.
- Brand awareness creates association.
When you’ve had a paper cut, I bet you’ve put on a Band-Aid. When you had a pressing question, I’m sure you’ve Googled it. When you needed to make a few copies, I’m guessing that you Xeroxed them. And when you’ve packed for a nice picnic, I’m willing to bet you grabbed a Coke to drink.
Am I correct? Most likely. But … notice how some of the words above are capitalized. These are brands, not nouns or verbs.
Speaking in brand-less terms, Band-Aid should be referred to as a bandage, Google as a search engine, and Xerox as a copier. But it’s more fun to refer to the brand itself, even if we aren’t using their specific product.
That’s what brand awareness does. It associates actions and products with particular brands, subconsciously encouraging us to replace common words with branded terms. And before you know it, simple paper cuts or picnics are doing the marketing for us.
- Brand awareness builds brand equity.
Brand equity describes a brand’s value, which is determined by consumer experiences with and overall perception of the brand. Positive experiences and perceptions equal positive brand equity, and the same goes for negative notions.
Here are a few valuable things that come from positive brand equity:
- Higher prices due to higher perceived value
- A higher stock price
- The ability to expand business through product or service line extensions
- Greater social impact due to brand name value
How does a brand establish (and increase) brand equity? By building brand awareness and consistently promoting positive experiences with the brand. Brand awareness is the foundation of brand equity.
Once a consumer is aware of a brand, they start to recognize it without assistance, seek it out to make a purchase, begin to prefer it over other similar brands, and establish a loyalty that not only spurs other purchases but also inspires recommendations to family and friends.
That is why brand awareness is so important. It establishes trust with your customers, creates positive associations, and builds invaluable brand equity that allows your brand to become a household name and consumer staple.
How to Build Brand Awareness
It takes time for your audience and the broader public to become aware of your brand. It also doesn’t result from a straightforward marketing initiative or advertisement. Strong brand awareness is the consequence of several concurrent initiatives that go beyond attracting paying clients.
You won’t get very far if your goal is to increase brand awareness through a few product adverts on Facebook. The advertisement won’t have any lasting effect beyond making a quick sale because the customer will only be interested in the goods and not the brand.
Here are some strategies for building a strong foundation for brand awareness and leaving a lasting impression on your audience:
- 1. Be a person, not a company.
When you get to know a new friend, what do you like to discover about them? I like to learn about hobbies, passions, likes and dislikes, and more. I also pay attention to how they speak, what they like to talk about, and what stuff gets them excited.
These are the traits your brand should determine and promote about itself. To leave an impact on your audience, you’ve got to define yourself as more than a company that sells stuff. How else would you define yourself? What words would you use if you had to introduce your brand to a new friend?
- 2. Socialize.
Introvert or extrovert, outgoing or quiet, all humans benefit from social contact and spending time with one another. It’s how we stay connected, learn new things, and become known by others.
The same goes for your brand. If you only attempt to connect with others when trying to make a sale or get support, you won’t be known as anything beyond a business with a singular intention (and the same goes for a person).
To raise awareness of your brand, you’ve got to be social. Post on social media about things unrelated to your product or services. Interact with your audience by asking questions, commenting on posts, or retweeting or sharing content you like. Treat your social accounts as if you were a person trying to make friends, not a business trying to make money.
Research shows that over 50% of brand reputation comes from online sociability. Being social leads to greater awareness and simply being known.
- 3. Tell a narrative.
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful marketing tactic, whether you’re marketing products or promoting your brand. Why? Because it gives something real for your audience to latch onto. Crafting a narrative around your brand humanizes it and gives it depth. And weaving this said narrative into your marketing inherently markets your brand alongside your products or services.
What should your narrative be about? Anything, as long as it’s true. It can be the narrative of your founder, the tale of how your business had its first product idea, or the little engine that could story of how your small business made it in this big world.
People like hearing stories about each other. Authenticity is impactful, and it can lead to a big boost in brand awareness.
- 4. Make sharing easy.
Whatever your industry, product offering, or marketing strategies, make it easy for your audience to share your content. This could be blog posts, sponsored content, videos, social media posts, or product pages. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s shareable.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most effective way to establish trust and familiarity among customers. If someone sees that a friend or family member is recommending a product or service, they’ll take notice of that product … and brand. Is this a brand worth exploring? Do they have other great products I can rely on? What are their social accounts like, and what do they talk about?
If you make it easy to post about your stuff, consumers will raise brand awareness for you by simply clicking “Share”.
Brand awareness is about impact.
It’s about interacting with your audience in ways that don’t only ask for money, participation, or loyalty.
Imagine if you met a new person who wanted to be your friend. If they asked for any of the above, you’d probably laugh and walk away, right? Not only is that a shallow approach to friendship, but it also leaves no lasting impact on you.
The same goes for establishing and building brand awareness among your audience.
Brand Awareness Strategy
You already know how to begin creating awareness for your brand from the ground up. It’s now time to assemble a straightforward yet effective brand awareness plan that will maintain the flywheel in motion.
- 1. Guest blog on other niche websites.
Guest blogging is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness with minimal effort. You can take advantage of the traffic that’s already arriving at another website to get more eyes on your brand while offering helpful and relevant content.
In other words, you’re not just pushing out your product on people who aren’t ready to buy, but rather writing in your brand voice and presenting yourself as human first, company second. Another great alternative to guest blogging would be publishing sponsored content on niche websites.
- 2. Try co-marketing.
Co-marketing is an excellent way to build brand awareness — not only because you’d be taking advantage of another brand’s audience but because it can highlight who you are and what you offer in the marketplace.
For instance, if your company sells dog leashes and toys, you could potentially partner with a dog-walking app. The campaign itself could appear in any number of ways: You could create a shared offer (“download the app and get one free leash”) or host an Instagram live together. No matter what, partnering up with another brand could help you double and even triple your reach.
- 3. Advertise everywhere.
I know, I know: Advertising may not build brand awareness so much as it builds product awareness, but still — it’s one of the best tools you can use to get people to find out about your brand in a low-touch, unobtrusive way.
Consider Grammarly. It feels like just a few years ago, no one knew about Grammarly. Now it’s one of those brands that you automatically think of when you consider online proofreading software. That’s because they’ve launched robust social, video, and display advertising campaigns that appear nearly everywhere.
You might consider starting with online advertising, which includes paid social media and PPC. If you’re interested in truly appearing everywhere and launching more sophisticated campaigns at a mass scale, you can launch programmatic advertising campaigns.
- 4. Hire a face or create a mascot for the company.
This may not be doable for smaller companies, but if you do have the budget, consider hiring an actor or spokesperson to represent the company. What do you first think of when you think of Progressive? Flo, has even been termed “Progressive girl” for her fun and friendly personality.
This allows you to not only humanize your brand, as mentioned in the previous section but give a sense of the friendly and knowledgeable service customers can expect to receive.
You don’t have to use a person, either. GEICO is a great example of this. The moment you see that friendly lizard, you know it’s GEICO. Creating an animated mascot may be a cost-efficient but equally effective way to give a face to your brand.
- 5. Choose an image or symbol that represents you.
Nike is not even Nike anymore. It’s a checkmark. The moment you see that check mark, you know it’s Nike. Or how about McDonald’s yello “M”? Or Apple’s bitten apple?
I’m not just talking about a logo, either, though it can certainly be part of your logo. But work with your branding team or a freelance graphic designer to create a symbol that you ubiquitously use in your marketing, advertising, and organic campaigns. You might also consider taking a note from Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike, and incorporating the symbol into your product packaging and design.
- 6. Create a short, catchy slogan.
Extending the Nike example, you think of the brand immediately when you hear “Just do it.” Creating a short motto or slogan is a cornerstone of a strong brand awareness strategy and is an easy and simple way to increase brand awareness.
It’s definitely tough — imagine condensing everything you’re about in one short sentence. It must explain how you’re different, what you offer, and why customers should choose you. Consider HubSpot’s tagline, “Helping millions grow better.” In four simple words, you understand why our product should be your choice when considering marketing automation tools.
Brand awareness is a powerful (albeit vague) concept that can have a major impact on your marketing efforts, consumer perception, and revenue.
Follow these techniques for establishing and building awareness for your brand, and you’ll find yourself with a loyal audience that recognizes your brand among competitors, chooses your products time and time again, and recommends their friends and family do the same.