Brand Awareness: The Ultimate Guide
Have you ever wondered why Verizon sponsors the Oscars? Or why companies like Coca Cola still spend millions on ad campaigns despite being one of the most famous products in the world? The answer is – to raise brand awareness.
Strong brand awareness is one of the keys to succeeding in a competitive market. More and more businesses are putting their resources into building a brand that’s recognizable and maintains a consistent image.
This guide will give you practical insight into how you can increase your brand awareness. As you’ll see, you don’t have to sponsor a major televised event or hire a star athlete to represent you. Start with the basics, like creating a website or developing your brand’s social media presence.
What is brand awareness?
Brand awareness is a broad term that refers to how recognized your business is. The goal is for your brand’s name to become synonymous with the products or services you offer, and for current and potential customers to think of your business whenever they need something you provide.
Unlike other forms of marketing, devoting time to brand awareness, won’t produce an immediate spike in sales – but if you’re in it for the long run, there’s a lot to gain by increasing your brand’s visibility and memorability. Investing in this can eventually lead to your brand becoming unforgettable and people associating different things with your business. This can be anything from your brand’s colors, your own logo, or a catchy slogan.
Some well-known examples are McDonald’s arched M, or Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. These are seemingly small brand elements, but they cause most people to immediately crave a burger or contemplate whether they need a new pair of sneakers.
Why brand awareness is critical to your business
High levels of brand awareness means more people in the world are conscious of your business. This is important if you want to become the go-to in your field. But building brand recognition is not just about attracting customers, it’s also about increasing trust in your products or services.
These are the main advantages of increasing your brand awareness:
Bring in first-time customers: New customers will choose products they recognize over ones they’ve never heard of.
Gain credibility: With trust and familiarity, comes credibility. Building your credibility can have a positive effect on consumer decisions. As a respected brand, you can have a greater impact on audiences. One way to do this is to get your voice heard on issues related to your business, your market, or anything close to your heart. People connect more to brands that have a purpose, fostering even more loyalty from your customer base.
Charge more for products and services: Being recognized as a trustworthy professional brand helps loyal customers and potential shoppers choose you over the competition, simply for peace of mind. You can and should charge more for this extra value. With so many businesses operating solely online, trust is worth more than ever.
Attract high quality employees and partners: As you build your brand's recognition, more people will jump at the chance to work with you. This means you’ll be able to attract higher quality employees, and partner with bigger, more respected businesses.
Expand your business: The recognition and respectability of a brand isn’t confined to the initial product or service you provide. It will carry over to everything your business does in the future. When you want to expand into new markets or introduce a new product - higher brand awareness will help you transition successfully, since you'll already have a pool of customers who know they can trust you.
How do you create brand awareness?
Achieving brand awareness isn’t a one-off undertaking. It’s a process that usually includes several campaigns, social media activity, collaborations and more. Let’s start with the basics of brand building and asserting your brand’s presence and relevance.
There are a few foundational practices you should take note of when you start building your brand’s recognition:
Develop your brand identity
These days, customers want to interact with a brand they can connect with on an emotional or intellectual level – brands that have vibrant personalities, ethical values, a sense of humor and a specific tone of voice – just like people. Give your brand this voice, personality and story by developing its brand identity.
With so many options out there, shoppers choose to buy products from businesses that reflect their values. So don’t hesitate to highlight your social, economical or environmental ideals. Customers have also figured out that they can effect change in the world by deciding where to spend their money. People feel strongly about these issues and you can tap into that emotion.
Be active on social media
Creating your brand’s identity is one thing, but getting your message out to the public is a different challenge.
While billboards, magazine ads and TV commercials used to be the prime location for communicating with audiences, that’s no longer the case. Today, most of our interaction with brands happens online, especially on social media, where close to half of the world’s population spends an average of over 2 hours a day.
The truth is, people expect brands to be active on social media. Most customers will even go so far as to look up your business and contact you on your social media channels, rather than through your website, email or phone.
Unlike other media outlets, social media embodies a more casual environment. Which is what makes it such a great place to interact with others using your authentic brand voice. This is where people will come to really form a connection with your brand.
Use social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and TikTok to broadcast your brand’s personality (your choice depends on your market, of course). Take the time to post new content, create social media graphics, interact with other brands, and engage your audience.
Pro tip: Customers expect a timely response when reaching out on social media, so don't slack when it comes to being active.
Create fresh content
The goal with building brand awareness is to generate a buzz around your brand. So, give your audience new content that will entice them to engage with you and share with their friends.
Creating content that audiences will share achieves two goals. It spreads your content to a wider audience, bringing more attention to your brand. But it also promotes positive recognition. In the future, audiences will be much more likely to interact with a brand whose content becomes familiar to them than a business completely unknown.
11 ways to increase brand awareness:
Now that you understand what brand awareness is and have laid out the foundations, let’s look at specific ways you can start building it:
Produce interesting videos
Create a blog
Collaborate with other brands
Use influencer marketing
Start a podcast
Offer free products or services
Use referral programs
Increase traffic to your website
01. Produce interesting videos
Videos make for great, shareable content across all platforms. You can add videos to your website and post them to your social media channels, too. Many brands will also start a YouTube channel as an outlet for brand awareness campaigns.
Some ideas for video content include: tutorials, breaking down different trends, or hosting panel discussions about topics related to your business.
02. Design infographics
Infographics are a great way to both tell a story and provide stunning visuals, all in a single image. Making infographics that appeal to your audience is a useful way to get shares on social media and increase your brand awareness. Don’t forget to design it according to your brand’s aesthetic – and of course, slap on your logo to show that it’s yours.
03. Make memes
Memes are no longer solely the domain of internet trolls and college students. They’re also a legitimate marketing tool that you can use to your branding advantage. For the most part, memes are there to bring across a short, funny or witty message. The advantage is that they have the potential to go viral, but don’t require a large design budget.
04. Create a blog
Creating a blog can add to your brand awareness, foster trust and provide shareable content all in one package. Writing blog posts is a staple of digital marketing - in fact blogs are one of the only outlets for long-form marketing content. When writing a blog post, keep in mind that a good blog should be packed with interesting, informative articles.
Most brands use their website’s blog section to constantly add new content. If you invest properly in your blog, your customers will eventually view it as a knowledge source creating the potential to impact their decision making.
05. Collaborate with other brands
Collaborations between brands who share a similar audiences can double the exposure of both businesses. If you’re both well regarded among your audiences, there’s a huge opportunity for increasing both customer bases.
A collaboration can come in many forms. From sharing each other's content on social media, to producing videos together and guest blogging on each other’s websites.
06. Use influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is sort of a middle ground between collaborations and paid ads. It means associating your brand with someone like a micro influencer who has an established audience on social media and is well-liked by followers.
Using the influencers will vary in terms of the established platform and price - but once you find one that you want to work with, there’s a huge potential to boost your brand awareness.
A clever way to increase your brand’s awareness is by becoming a sponsor. Sponsorship means providing a service, product or financial support in return for advertisement and exposure.
Your brand can sponsor anything from food or alcohol for an event, or individuals such as artists or athletes. Finding these opportunities means strategizing what audiences you want to associate with and what sponsorships make sense.
For example, if you’ve started your own beer brewery – find an upcoming music event looking for beverage donations. Not only will the artists or organizers include you in advertising, everyone at the event will be able to enjoy and talk about your product.
08. Start a podcast
Starting a podcast is another outlet for providing engaging, long form-content. Many brands already use podcast platforms to provide a steady stream of episodes catered specifically to their audience. It can take time to build up a following– but once you have an audience, a podcast will have a huge influence on your brand's authority and recognition.
09. Offer free products or services
Everyone loves free stuff. Running giveaway promotions is a tried and true method to increase your customer base. Give out small branded products like pens, coasters or hats, or even provide a free service or trial for a limited time. Not only will recipients be delighted, they'll most likely share the opportunity with friends. Plus, the gesture can turn them all into loyal customers.
10. Use referral programs
There’s nothing wrong with asking existing customers to reach new ones for you. Most satisfied customers will be happy to spread the word about your business. This is especially true if you offer incentive. If you can afford it, offer your customers discounts, provide premium services or give free products in return for recommending new clients.
11. Increase traffic to your website
Your website is an extremely important asset for brand awareness, too. That’s why making sure your site is professional, aesthetically pleasing and aligned with your brand's style is so important.
You can increase traffic to your website by investing time in it’s SEO (search engine optimization). With good SEO, your site can work its way up to the top of Google’s search results for relevant topics. You can also invest in ad campaigns that draw more traffic to your website and build your brand’s awareness.
Examples of brand awareness campaigns
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few examples of successful brand awareness campaigns:
Lego’s Rebuild the World
In 2019 Lego launched their first brand awareness campaign in decades, dubbed “Rebuilding the World”.
The main element of the campaign was a nearly two minute video, following a rabbit escaping a safari hunter. The beautifully crafted video showcases many of today’s social issues, including climate change, trans rights and more. The video currently has over 10 million views on YouTube.
Lego’s short video nods at a worldview that many share, contributing to the brand’s positive recognition.
The company’s main target demographic is children and parents. Presenting a positive and progressive company ideology encourages parents to interact with the Lego brand and buy their products, with the promise of instilling these values in their children.
Aerie’s #AerieREAL campaign
American Eagle’s lingerie brand Aerie pulled off a brand building campaign that is all about celebrating women and body positivity.
The campaign included a short video featuring celebrities from different fields. While Aerie’s products are everywhere in the video, they aren’t mentioned. Rather, the message is one of empowerment. An extremely important part of the campaign is the #AerieREAL hashtag, which was used over 250,000 times on Instagram alone.
The #AerieREAL campaign is a great example of appealing to your target audience without discussing products or sales, simply to foster a positive view of the brand.
Lyft’s referral campaign
Lyft was projected to surpass their leading competitor, Uber, in the U.S. Realizing this, the Lyft marketing team set off to achieve their ultimate goal. The understanding that their riders are satisfied with the service led to the conclusion that they simply need to attract new customers.
As mentioned, people prefer to interact with brands that their peers recommend, so Lyft launched a referral campaign – offering $5 in ride credits for every referral through a personal invite code.
While Uber still leads the market, the campaign was considered a success, with Lyft increasing their relative share of the market.
How to measure brand awareness
Brand awareness campaigns are long-term endeavors, with results often seen after years. This is why they’re considered less measurable than other campaigns, like lead generation or traffic building. But that doesn’t mean you can’t gauce the efficiency of your efforts.
These are 4 ways you can measure the success of your brand awareness campaign:
Measure website traffic
The amount of traffic your site gets is a great way to understand the scope of your brand’s awareness.
Tools like Google Analytics will allow you to check the pages related to your brand building campaigns and track their performance. You can also see where visitors arrive from and gage which platforms bring in the best results.
Track social engagement
These days, most brand awareness campaigns happen on social media. Luckily, most social media platforms provide analytics as well. You can monitor engagement by tracking the number of likes, shares and comments your posts receive over time. Take note of increases in the number of followers and the performance of specific posts.
Pro tip: Monitor what users are saying about your page, products and business by being proactive in conversations and practicing social listening.
Surveying your customer base is a great way to get direct feedback on your brand’s perception. You can run the same survey over time to see how your brand’s recognition changes.
If you’re running a specific campaign, you may want to survey before and after to measure the campaign’s success.
Google your brand
Another great way to see what people think of your company is by performing a Google search of your brand.
Doing this will likely bring up news articles, forum discussions and social media posts that you weren’t aware of. These reflect how the “real world” views your brand. It may be positive or negative, but it’s definitely valuable information that can help you change the way you approach customer relations.
By Jenna Romano
Web Design & Branding Expert