Yes, brand awareness has an ROI. Here’s why it matters

Ever found yourself trying to explain the power of brand awareness and how it translates to sales? We see you - and this article is for you.

When you need a search engine, you likely head to Google. When you think of conversational marketing, it’s likely Drift that springs to mind. When you’re in need of some toy building blocks, you probably think of Lego. That’s the power of brand awareness in action.

Trying to explain the ROI of brand awareness to someone who doesn’t work in brand is a task most brand managers hate. And we’ve all been there – waffling our way through the intangible benefits of what it means to have a good brand.

With an ever-increasing focus on the ROI of marketing, explaining how brand awareness translates into sales isn’t always easy – but the truth is, brand awareness does have an ROI, and its importance can’t be understated. You only need to look at the demise of Brandless to see that. 

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What is Brand Awareness ROI?

It might seem obvious, but no one will buy from a business if they don’t know it exists. Your solution might be the best on the market. Your product might be life-changing. But all of that stuff comes second to someone actually being aware of you in the first place.

Surely the solution is simple – get your brand out there. Rank first in Google for all those important keywords, plaster OOH campaigns everywhere you can think of, and get your product a coveted spot on the shelves of big retailers.

Except it isn’t really that simple. The truth is, people can consume what you produce without ever really noticing it was you who produced it. Just because someone downloaded your content and gave it a read doesn’t mean they’ll remember your brand logo was in every corner. Same goes for sponsored events and social media posts.

There’s more to brand awareness than being everywhere at once, because there’s more to branding than just that. We know that we should aim for 6-8 marketing touches before someone will actually engage with a message, but that’s not all – for a brand to really set itself apart, they need to be telling great stories with their campaigns, backed by a strong brand purpose, and building brand equity in crowded markets. 

Brand awareness makes other acquisition campaigns easier

One of the main reasons why it’s so hard to track ROI back to brand awareness, apart from the fact that ‘brand’ itself is pretty difficult to get a handle on, is because brand awareness on its own is not usually the thing that pushes someone to convert. It’s more likely the thing that tips it – a sneaky helper that assists all other acquisition campaigns without ever really hogging the limelight. It’s for that reason that branding spend can’t be viewed in a vacuum

When people are aware of your brand (and associate with it positively), it gives all of your other marketing and brand efforts a boost. We tend to default to trust when it comes to brands we recognise.

If someone has heard of you, and thinks you’re good at what you do (or just ‘good’ in general), they’re far more likely to click that ad, download that content, and engage with your brand. It’s no secret that building brand awareness is a long game – it’s all about building associations. Which leads nicely into the next point:

supreme brand awareness

Not all press is good press

It’s likely that more people have heard of DTC luggage brand ‘Away’ since this report about its toxic work environment dropped – but that’s not really a good thing. 

Negative press, a failed product launch, and unethical business practices may all add up to higher brand awareness – but when it’s for all the wrong reasons, that brand awareness doesn’t work in your favour.

More than ever, consumers want more than a brand that just ‘does the job’. According to our research, 70.6% of consumers would stop buying from a brand if they discovered it didn’t operate in a way that matched their personal values. Brands large and small are using brand purpose to boost their brand awareness and their ROI; plucky startups spring up, designed to give back to the world around them, and long-standing corporations are pivoting to place brand purpose at the centre of what they do.

The message is clear: good press is a big boost for the ROI of your brand spend. However – without brand awareness, that good press doesn’t really matter. In the end, it’s a bit of a Catch 22 – brand awareness feeds good press, and good press feeds brand awareness. 

Familiarity is still really important

The dynamics of almost every industry on earth are shifting all the time. Whatever niche you’re in, the competitive landscape will always be changing – and that’s because people are always coming up with innovative ways to solve problems. Consumers today are faced with so many choices, it’s almost overwhelming.

A recognisable brand name cuts through the noise – and the effect is even more pronounced the more complicated the problem gets. If someone is craving a fizzy drink, maybe they go for a Coca Cola, a Sprite, or a Mountain Dew. If someone needs something delivered quickly, maybe they go to Amazon or eBay. If someone wants to track their brand health in a really specific market, maybe they go to Attest

It’s not all doom and gloom for the brands just making their start in the world, though – the fight for brand equity may be tough, but as long as the emphasis is placed on fostering loyalty and meaningful connections with consumers, brand awareness and positive associations will be built over time.

Can brand awareness be a KPI?

Companies often fall short when focusing exclusively on lead generation campaigns and metrics as this can be quite a short-term play. If you follow the rule of thumb that it takes, on average, seven interactions with someone until their purchase intent is realised, then brand building efforts are essential for business growth.

Encouraging engagement with your brand can also invoke customer loyalty and the longevity of your relationships with existing customers, which can protect businesses from losing revenue overtime.

Brand awareness and brand equity also have impacts on other success metrics and KPIs for businesses. So when analysing the ROI on all marketing activity, it is essential to have brand building activity analysed alongside, to help attribute certain rises or pitfalls in customer acquisition or sales activity to any branding efforts. This way you can truly know what is working, and what is not, so you can inform future marketing strategies.

So, make brand awareness one of your business KPIs and build real marketing tactics around it.

Check what’s working with brand tracking

Measuring brand and attributing to sales volume directly can be a challenge for many marketers. How do you know if your brand efforts are translating into awareness, and if that brand awareness is translating into ROI? Some aspects of brand may be intangible, but there are some crucial brand health metrics that you can keep track of.

Download our free Beginner’s Guide to Brand Tracking to find out how to do it all yourself, with our in-house research experts on-hand to support you through the journey. No need for an overpriced consultancy. 

The beginner’s guide to brand tracking

Brand tracking is a fantastic tool that helps companies monitor the health of their brands and benchmark themselves against competitors. This guide sets out why you should be doing it and how to get started.

Get your free copy

Frequently asked questions about brand awareness

How can I measure brand awareness?

There’s a tool for that – it’s us! But to really understand how it works, what you’re measuring, and what you can do with these insights, we’ve dedicated an entire blog to the top five ways to measure brand awareness. Here’s a short summary.

  • Check your social media following
  • Track your website traffic
  • Use Google Trends data
  • Survey your target audience
  • Use brand tracking software

What are the most important brand awareness metrics?

Brand awareness is not just one number: it’s a combination of factors and insights that together give you more context about how well your brand is known. Here are some metrics you can use to measure brand awareness:

  • Branded search volume
  • Brand name mentions
  • Share of voice and share of impressions

How can you raise brand awareness?

There’s no quick fix to increasing brand awareness amongst your target audience unless you’re aiming for a huge publicity stunt. Nevertheless, brand awareness should be an ongoing practice, and always part of your marketing agenda. Here are some tried-and-tested ways to boost brand awareness:

  • Referral programs
  • Influencer marketing
  • SEO and content marketing
  • Paid ads
  • Partnerships with relevant brands

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

Brand awareness and brand recognition are not the same thing, even though they’re related. 

Brand recognition measures the extent to which consumers can identify a brand from the visual elements of its brand identity, like a logo.

Brand awareness measures if the public can recall information, emotions, or general impressions about your brand – without any visual aids.

What’s the return on investment for raising brand awareness?

We’re glad you’ve asked. Brand awareness actually has an ROI, although it requires some more in-depth analysis to see its impact on your business. The bottom line is, higher brand awareness makes your marketing campaigns more effective.

That impact becomes visible in metrics like your share of search. Expert on marketing effectiveness Les Binet introduced this metric in 2020. His research showed that share of search and share of market are connected. If your share of search goes up, which is the effect of increased brand awareness, share of market is likely to follow. 

Head over to our blog about the ROI of brand awareness to find out more.

Sam Killip

Head of Attest Customer Expertise (ACE) 

I have spent years doing what I love most - making things easy and understandable for the people I work with.

See all articles by Sam