The ultimate goal of any business is to gain loyal customers. Building brand awareness can do exactly that by influencing customer shopping habits so they don’t need to think twice before choosing your product or service.
But what exactly is brand awareness and how can you successfully establish it to reach your company goals? Read on to find out.
Brand awareness is essentially a marketing term that is used to describe the way in which consumers recognise a specific brand and its products or services through associated images, logos or qualities.
For example, what do you think of when you imagine the tech brand, Apple? You’d probably picture its logo (the bitten apple), the brand’s associated colours (silver, black and white) or the products it sells (e.g. MacBooks, iPhones and AirPods). You might even think of other things such as the in-store experience you’d receive as a customer or the CEO’s annual Keynote speech.
When these associations immediately spring to mind, it’s known as brand awareness.
As consumers, we often reach for the same brands every time we make a purchase. You might grab Colgate toothpaste without so much as glancing at the Sensodyne, or reach for the Dairy Milk without considering any other chocolate. But why is that?
As 95% of our purchase decisions are subconscious, cultivating brand awareness is vital for your company to stand out. We tend to pick up the same brands based on visual signifiers because we trust them. Why would you pick a service or product that you don’t know? Shoppers want evidence that a brand, product or service is trustworthy and will deliver exactly what they’re looking for before committing to a purchase.
Achieving customer loyalty stems from having brand awareness, so making your brand the go-to choice is the ultimate road to success. But how do you build an awareness of your brand in the first place?
Before you start building your brand awareness, you need to understand the different levels of awareness that impact a buyer’s journey.
There are four levels of brand awareness that can be visualised by using a brand awareness pyramid. Based on marketing mogul, David Aaker’s brand loyalty pyramid, the levels of brand awareness are zero awareness, recognition, brand recall, and top of the buyer's mind.
Let’s break down each level of brand awareness to better understand their significance.
When starting a business you’ll likely need to build awareness from scratch. At this point, you will be at the bottom of the pyramid with little to no customer awareness of your business. Luckily, there’s plenty of room for growth at this level.
Brand recognition enables your target audience to immediately identify your business through visual signifiers such as a logo, slogan, colour scheme, packaging or marketing campaigns.
There are numerous ways to identify the scope of your business’ brand recognition. Conducting surveys is one way to evaluate whether your brand is recognised by the public.
Brand recall occurs when your business jumps to an individual’s mind when they require the products or services that you provide. It can also occur as a result of a conversation or association.
For example, McDonald’s, Burger King and Five Guys may come to mind if someone fancies a burger from a fast-food restaurant. Here, the Burger King franchise has entered the brand recall level.
To quantify the awareness of your business, you can conduct brand recall tests and questionnaires at this level. An example of the brand recall questions which may be used can be found in this brand awareness template by Survey Monkey.
Top-of-mind awareness refers to the first brand that is associated with a product, service or similar brand. Remember that list of fast-food restaurants we discussed? McDonald’s was first on the list, meaning it would have reached the ‘top-of-mind’ level. Every brand seeks to achieve this type of awareness.
Top-of-mind awareness often includes the services and products someone most frequently uses. Therefore, you should aim to create brand awareness that attains the top-of-mind level as it is a crucial component to customer loyalty.
Now you have a good understanding of brand awareness and the levels within it, you can implement a plan to increase your brand’s awareness.
Building brand awareness isn’t a one-step process—there are multiple efforts that need to be made simultaneously in order to increase recognition of your company. Here’s how...
What is your company’s unique selling point (USP)? What’s its purpose? What are you offering to potential and existing customers that differs from other brands in your industry?
Identifying your niche is essential for brand awareness. If you want your brand to be chosen over others and to reach level four of the awareness pyramid, you’ve got to establish and communicate why you exist as a company and how you can help your customers with what you have to offer.
Once you’ve identified your niche, you want to be easily recognisable with a strong brand identity. There are several elements that help build brand identity:
◾ Choose brand colours and use these consistently throughout all marketing outlays
◾ Design a distinctive logo and use it across all media (social media images, infographics, blogs, etc.)
◾ Define and maintain your brand’s personality and voice (e.g. will you address your customers formally or casually?)
◾ Create a house style guide to ensure all product copy, social media posts, blogs, emails and marketing campaigns are standardised
◾ Create a simple, easy-to-use and fast interface for your website to help build visitor trust
Establishing a brand identity relies on being consistent with the elements you choose. If you are inconsistent or frequently change your image, style or language, customers will fail to recognise or remember you.
Brand awareness is built on trust. Sharing your business’ journey with your target audience is a vital step in gaining their confidence in you and your products or services as it provides something relatable for individuals to connect with.
You can create your company’s narrative by sharing the story of your business’ founder, or how your business has grown. The key here is authenticity.
When telling your story, you should:
◾ Make it personal. Consumers like connecting with people, not a faceless company
◾ Keep the story simple and relatable
◾ Share the business’ origin, complemented by a visually appealing timeline
◾ Demonstrate any big numbers visually
◾ Share your business’ highlights and office life on social media
Remember, you’re trying to establish customer trust by sharing your business’ story, so make sure it’s honest and true.
Digital marketing techniques are essential for building brand awareness. Alongside business storytelling, you can apply these effective marketing methods:
◾ Optimise your content and include industry-specific queries to raise brand awareness
◾ Regularly post unique content on social media to promote your business, such as:
◾ Share your blogs that your followers will find useful
◾ Send teasers of your services or products
◾ Highlight achievements your employees and brand have achieved
◾ Become a thought leader by joining industry-specific conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
◾ Exceed expectations (don’t oversell)
◾ Don’t forget the importance of outreach for increasing public awareness
Top tip: Creating high-quality and unique content with a magical combination of words and meaningful relevant images makes information 65% more memorable than text alone.
You should now be equipped with the knowledge of how to increase brand awareness and begin progressing up the awareness pyramid.
Patience is key here as you won’t see changes overnight (unless you create viral content), but by implementing our advice within this article you can reach the top-of-mind level of business awareness.
This post was written in 2019 and updated by Charlotte Osborn in 2021.