A marketer’s guide to brand awareness

January 08, 2021

11 min read

Is the growth of your business being held back by low brand awareness? Find out how to raise your brand's profile and become a household name.

Whether you’re a new startup or an established business, brand awareness will be a factor that’s central to your success. 

It’s always been important for people to be familiar with your brand but today it’s even more crucial. That’s because we’re increasingly shopping online rather than in-store. 

When consumers walk the aisles browsing, they can more easily discover new products. But when a shopping trip starts online, people are likely to search for specific brand names.

If your brand name is not well-known, they’ll be fewer people searching for you and you’ll make fewer sales. Compounding the problem further is the fact that brands have never faced so much competition.  

So what can marketers do? In this guide we’ll look at how to measure the brand awareness that your brand has, ways to build brand awareness, and how to keep it growing year after year.  

What is brand awareness?

Before we get started, let’s take a look at what brand awareness means. To give a simple definition, brand awareness means the familiarity consumers have with a particular product or service. When marketers talk about brand awareness, they’re usually referring to brand awareness within a target market or target audience. 

There are different levels of brand awareness: 

  • Awareness of your brand name
  • Awareness of your product offering 
  • Awareness of your brand attributes (i.e. what distinguishes you from competitors)

When assessing how much brand awareness your brand has, it’s important to measure all three of the above metrics. While it’s helpful if lots of consumers have heard of your brand name, if they don’t know what you actually do or why they should purchase from you, your brand awareness won’t necessarily translate into increased sales.

What’s the difference between brand awareness and brand recognition?

Brand awareness is often confused with brand recognition. While the two are closely related, they don’t mean exactly the same thing. Brand recognition is the extent to which consumers can identify your brand from the visual elements of its brand identity – your logo, for example. Brand awareness goes a step further to the point that the public can recall information, emotions or general impressions about your brand.

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Run a free, 3-question brand awareness survey to see how recognisable your brand is and how your brand ranks among your competitors.

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Why brand awareness is important 

As we discussed earlier, brand awareness is key for driving online searches of your brand name. It also plays a big role in the purchase decisions consumers make in a wider marketplace, when confronted with multiple choices. 

brand awareness is important in purchase decisions

When asked whether they would prefer to buy the cheapest product or one from a brand they know, 69% of consumers would choose the brand they’re familiar with. This pulling power is known in the marketing industry as ‘brand equity‘.

Brand equity describes the value of having a well-known brand name – and it’s what arises from having good brand awareness. The CEOs of household name brands understand how important it is to have brand equity because it has a direct impact on the bottom line. Ultimately, the ROI of brand awareness includes: 

  1. Increased sales – Consumers are more likely to buy brands they’ve heard of. An established brand is also at an advantage when it comes to distribution – you’re more likely to get stocked if your brand is in demand, leading to even higher sales.
  2. Higher profits – Consumers are willing to pay more for branded products. Research shows that brand plays an important role in pricing, with companies able to charge a premium for products even when physical superiority over competitors can’t be demonstrated.
  3. More influence – A well-known brand will find it easier to make strategic partnerships, as companies are naturally keener to team up with influential allies. What’s more, recognisable brands find it easier to recruit talent. 

How to get started with brand awareness 

To get started building brand awareness it’s important to know how much you currently have. If you’re a new brand or if you’re launching in a new market, then you’ll be starting from scratch. But if your business has been around a little while (or even a long while) you will already have a level of brand awareness.  

There are a number of things you can look at to get an indication of how high your current brand awareness is. These include:

  • Your mailing list – how many people have signed up to receive communications from you.
  • Your social media – how many people follow you on social networks like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Your website hits – how many unique visitors you get to your site each month.
  • Your search data – how many people search for your brand name in Google and other search engines.
  • Social listening – how many people are talking about your brand online.

How to measure brand awareness

While the data sources listed above are all useful proxies for brand awareness, there’s no substitute for asking consumers directly and getting hard and fast figures. The easiest way to do this is using a self-service consumer survey platform, such as Attest. To get up and running quickly, check out our brand awareness survey template

With just a few questions, you’ll be able to obtain vital brand awareness metrics including:

  • Unprompted brand awareness – the number of people who name your brand when asked to think about your product or service category.
  • Prompted brand awareness – the number of people who say they’ve heard of your brand when presented a list.
  • Level of brand awareness – the number of people who can correctly identify your product offering or key brand attributes. 

Thanks to simple demographic filters, you’ll be able to ask questions directly to your target audience. This is important because you might only be interested in a select group of consumers, for example, parents to young children or dog owners.  

By taking baseline measurements, you’ll be able to accurately measure your brand awareness growth. You’ll also be able to set targets for that growth, for example, increasing prompted brand awareness among your target audience from 20% to 40%. But how do you go about increasing brand awareness?…

How to increase brand awareness

If you want to get known, it’s important to put yourself out there. But it’s not just about slapping your logo all over the place – it’s also about educating the market about what you stand for and building a positive brand image. There are three core pillars to building great brand awareness:

  1. Marketing – leveraging paid and non-paid marketing opportunities to expose your brand to your target audience.
  2. Messaging – developing a strong value proposition to communicate to your target audience. 
  3. Nurturing – delivering on your brand promise and incentivising customers to promote your brand to their network through word-of-mouth marketing.

If you don’t have all three of these pillars in place, your efforts are likely to fall flat. After all, if you don’t tell people why they should buy your brand or you give them poor service when they do, you won’t be able to benefit from long-term organic growth in brand awareness.

Once you have defined your brand message – and you know which people you want to go after, in which market – you can start planning a brand awareness campaign. 

What is a brand awareness campaign? 

A brand awareness campaign is a marketing campaign designed to familiarise consumers with a new product or service, or an existing one that is not well-known (for example, when a brand launches in a new country). 

As well as introducing the product or service, a brand awareness campaign aims to communicate the values that differentiate it from the competition. It differs from a traditional marketing campaign in that its success won’t be judged on a sales uplift (although that might factor into it). The main aim is to increase knowledge about the brand and its products within the target audience – and there are various ways to measure its performance, which we’ll look at shortly.

A brand awareness campaign will usually be multi-pronged, involving marketing efforts across multiple channels, as opposed to just one advert in a magazine or on the TV. Marketing strategies that can make up a brand awareness campaign include:

  • Traditional advertising – magazines, television, radio, billboards, direct mail, flyers.
  • Digital marketing – paid search, display ads, native ads, social media ads, SEO.
  • Content marketing – blogs, email newsletters, infographics, ebooks, videos, podcasts.
  • Social media marketing – social media posts, brand hashtag, live streams, competitions, influencer partnerships.
  • Event marketing – live events, webinars, experiential activations, exhibiting, speaking opportunities. 
  • Partner marketing – sponsorships, referral programs, channel partners, affinity marketing, ambassador programs, charity/non-profit. 
  • PR – press releases, photocalls, publicity stunts, offering spokespeople to journalists.

The activities you choose to comprise your brand awareness campaign should be as strategic as possible, meaning that they get you maximum exposure among your target audience with the minimum outlay. 

Large marketing budgets and extensive staffing resources clearly offer an advantage when it comes to brand building but that’s not to say small businesses or bootstrapping brands can’t make great strides. With hard graft, many of the above activities can be carried out at relatively little cost. 

How to measure the success of brand awareness activities

Measuring the success of your brand awareness campaign is easy if you’ve run initial research and obtained baseline figures to benchmark against. All you need to do is re-run your original survey and see what’s changed. 

When brands continue to do this at regular intervals, it’s called brand tracking. It allows them to keep tabs on their brand awareness growth, and can also be used to track their performance against competitors. To learn more about brand tracking, download our free guide. 

The beginners’ guide to brand tracking

Brand tracking helps companies monitor the health of their brands and benchmark themselves against competitors. Learn how to get started.

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You can combine the data you get from brand tracking with sales data, advertising reach data, web traffic data and social media data, to get a complete picture of how your brand awareness campaign has performed. 

You’ll also want to look at how each marketing activity you carried out as part of the campaign contributed to the overall figures. For example, you can look at where web traffic came from, which ads or ad placements drove the most clicks, or what channel partner brought in the most new customers. 

It’s important to take learnings so that you can apply them the next time you run a brand awareness campaign. By optimising each time, and repeating only the most effective activities, you’ll be able to spend your budget more strategically and get maximum ROI. Download our free guide to learn more about running effective campaigns. 

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How to keep brand awareness growing

The key to building brand awareness is consistency – don’t take your foot off the pedal. This means making a commitment to things like your social media channels and blog. There’s little point having a flurry of activity and then letting it all drop off; all your good work will be undone.

A strong brand is not something that can be built overnight. And the results of your brand building efforts can take time to show in your bottomline, after all not everyone you make aware of your brand will be immediately ready to convert. 

Think, for example, about an estate agency brand – while a potential customer might not be looking to buy a property right now, they could be a year down the line. That’s when your previous brand awareness efforts will kick in and (hopefully) it will be your brand that’s top-of-mind.

Ready to get started growing your brand awareness? Try Attest for free.

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