Your company deserves to stand out from the crowd. And that’s why brand awareness is so important. It’s how you ensure that your target audience can differentiate your company and products from your competitors.
Brand awareness is an intangible asset, which means it can be tricky to pin down, not to mention, generate. The good news is that there are plenty of tools, marketing strategies, and metrics you can use to guide you. Read on to learn more about how to increase brand awareness and how to measure it.
What is brand awareness?
First thing’s first, what is the definition of brand awareness? It’s the measure of how aware one is of a brand.
But, what exactly is a brand? It’s the representation of a company that makes it recognizable. If this sounds pretty nebulous, it’s because it’s meant to be. Brand is an intangible business concept. But, while intangible, we often come to understand brands through their tangible elements like products and branding tools. This includes things like logos, color schemes, taglines, and other visuals that are often used to promote the company’s products or services.
Why is brand awareness important?
You want people to recognize your brand. Otherwise, you’re just one in the crowd. Part of the key to small business success starts with people understanding who you are as a brand and why they should buy your product over others.
Brand building isn’t only important when you first start a company – it’s an ongoing marketing effort. If you launch a new product, for example, you want potential and existing customers to associate it with your specific brand when making purchasing decisions.
If you’re not convinced about the important of brand awareness, consider these other reasons:
- You stay top of mind: When your brand messaging is top of mind and your brand design is recognizable among your customer base, chances are people will remember you when decision-making.
- Free marketing: When people are more likely to remember you, they might even talk about you in-person or online. This free word-of-mouth marketing is extra beneficial to your brand when they talk about your products or services with new audiences.
- Increased sales: Having a brand that people recognize makes it easy to find when customers go to make a purchase. Even if they can’t recall, let’s say, your brand name, they may be able to describe your content and purpose well enough that they’ll find you anyway.
- Increased customer loyalty: Customers like a brand they can trust, and you can build this faith not only through having high-quality products and services but a consistent brand image and offering.
Brand awareness vs. brand recognition
“Awareness” and “recognition” are pretty similar terms, so what actually differentiates them in terms of brands?
Brand recognition is a bit more tangible. People recognize your brand by its symbols and visual elements. Meanwhile, brand awareness is a feeling, not just an act of visual recognition. Awareness includes how people perceive your brand overall and any emotions or general impressions they may have of it.
What is aided brand awareness?
This term refers to how successfully your audience can recognize your brand. Aided brand awareness is measured through surveys of your target market. In these surveys, companies pose questions about your industry and the brands in it, listing yours as one of the options to select from. For example, if you own a hotel, you could ask the audience what hotels they’ve heard of in your area and include yours as one among a list of other hotels to select from. Aided brand awareness is the percentage of people who selected your brand in the survey.
What’s the difference between aided and unaided brand awareness? Consider the survey above. Unaided awareness would be measured by questions that didn’t explicitly mention your brand, but for which people still knew to bring it up. In other words, if you were to ask what hotels people have heard of, they would list yours without being prompted or having to see it on a list of names. Unaided brand awareness is also expressed as a percentage (i.e. 20% of people recognized your hotel).
How to build brand awareness
Generating organic brand awareness takes time and thoughtful strategy. Luckily, when done right, there are some proven ways to build brand awareness.
- Make sure you’re consistent: In order for people to recognize your brand, your branding has to be consistent across all platforms and iterations. Your audience should be able to immediately identify your brand, no matter where they see it, thanks to its color scheme, logo, and more.
- Try influencer marketing: Find a person who influences your target audience and team up with them for a partnership that catapults your brand on social networks. Whether it’s on LinkedIn or a commonly listened to podcast, influencers are a great way to help spread the word about your brand. Bonus: if partnering with an influencer who has a blog or YouTube channel, mentioning your brand can help improve your SEO.
- Create a referral program: Many brands have referral programs. This could be something as easy as offering a perk to existing customers who share a discount code for other first-time customers. The idea is to expand your reach with a motivator, like a coupon, that brings new customers into the fold at a low cost for you.
- Sponsorships: This goes a bit beyond influencer marketing and usually involves paying to have your brand logo or name on a list of other sponsors for an event. Sponsorships are often a win-win for all parties, as you get additional brand building exposure and the host gets the funds they need to host an event for your target audience.
- Content Marketing: Consider all of the marketing materials you make. Those that are very shareable by nature or have strong SEO value behind them, like infographics or blog posts, are likely to be searched for and/or shared among your target audience. Consider, for example, a branded infographic that is shared on Pinterest, then pinned many more times over. Digital marketing techniques like this can help continually drive traffic to your website.
How to measure brand awareness
If you’re a business owner, it’s time to get friendly with numbers. Awareness metrics can help you gauge everything from how well a brand awareness campaign is working to how much brand awareness you have.
- Ask people if they know who you are: Ask your target audience (or potential customers) if they’ve heard of you. As we mentioned above, an aided or unaided awareness survey is a great place to start.
- Look at how people are finding you: Check the analytics on your website to see how many people are coming to you organically (through a browser search because they’ve heard of you) or by recommendation (through an ad or referral campaign). You can apply this same logic when analyzing the efficacy of social media for your small business.
- Make sure more people are finding you: Brand building takes time, so keep monitoring your search engine and social media to see if your numbers are going up. This will help more people find you and can be an indicator of how aware people are of your brand.
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