16 ways to build brand awareness in 2021

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, there will 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, 16 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.

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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 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. 

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. 

15 ideas for your next brand awareness campaign

Are you looking for practical ideas to get your brand awareness campaigns going? We’ve got you covered — feel free to get started with any of the sixteen ideas in this list.

Develop a strong tone of voice

Brand awareness needs consistency. Not just in colour and logo-use, but also in the way you communicate, the words you use. You want people to instantly recognize you, even if a small part of your branding isn’t immediately showing. A strong tone of voice that matches your target group and a tag line or slogan will help you stand out from all the noise. 

Start with referral programs

No less than 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness. And the effectiveness of referral programs has been proven time and time again. 

PayPal and Dropbox didn’t become industry giants by accident: they knew that the secret to building more brand awareness was hiding in their existing customer base all along. 

Take Dropbox, who introduced a refer-a-friend feature in 2008. They grew their customer base with 3900%. That’s not a typo! This immense growth didn’t just come from the referral program — they improved their product and delivered outstanding customer service in the meantime — but it certainly did help.

PayPal did the same thing, (back in the day, so hold your horses!). Except instead of storage space in the cloud, they gave their users actual money. 

But referral programs to boost brand awareness aren’t just for the big boys. Many products and services can be promoted with the same technique, and it’s a great way to raise brand awareness in a relatively cheap manner. 

Make the most out of influencer marketing

People love getting recommendations from other people, especially if those people are experts in their fields. In come influencers: they are one of the easiest ways to promote your brand to a relevant audience, for relatively low costs — depending on the reach of the influencer. 

That doesn’t mean that micro influencers can’t be just as effective to you. It all comes down to the margin you have on your product and how strongly influencers affect their audiences buying decisions. To give you an idea: a study found that 61% of consumers in the age group 18 to 34 have at some point been convinced to buy something by an influencer. 

If you’re looking for a way to offer these influencers something in return, you could consider starting an affiliate program. This will also help you measure the effectiveness of influencer marketing for your business.

There are influencers in every possible market, even yours. Partner up! Image source

Double down on SEO and content marketing

Let’s say you’re in the bubble bath business. You sell them, and other relevant items. Now, you might set up your SEO around keywords as ‘buy bubble bath’, but raising awareness around your brand goes beyond raising awareness for just your products. People who are interested in products like yours, have more questions than ‘where to buy a bubble bath’. Write content for all their other questions too and over time you’ll start popping up in those first search results.

Want to know what keywords the competition is ranking on and how to adjust your content accordingly? Check out our article on competition tracking tools for our top tips. 

Use your branding everywhere

In the unlikely case that you haven’t ordered at Amazon ever, we’re sure you’d still be able to tell what their packaging looks like. If you ship physical products, don’t miss out on the opportunity of creating branded packaging. It’s that little extra touch that could make a big difference. 

This also works for businesses who operate exclusively online. Make sure you use your branding at every possible touch point along the customer journey, all the way down to your email signatures and Thank You pages.

Start partnerships with relevant businesses

Whether you’re a local business or operate solely online, partnerships are a great way to tap into new audiences and grow your brand awareness. Many businesses have a great deal of overlap in their ideal customers, or are somehow connected. Try to partner up and add value to your customers together. 

Be engaged on social media 

Simply having a social presence and even consistently posting will not substantially grow your brand awareness. But social media does play an important role in growing brand awareness, as long as you’re using it as it was intended: in a social way. Leave your own pages every once in a while and start interacting with the content your followers or partners are posting. 

This is a sneaky way of making sure your name pops up on the timeline of people who might be interested in your brand. Extra points if those appearances are loaded with valuable information. 

Tap into the latest social media channels 

Do you feel like your social media following has plateaued, but you still have a lot of great content to put out? Try some new social media channels that your brand isn’t represented on yet — like Clubhouse or Pinterest. You could be speaking to countless new people who’ve lost interest in Instagram and Facebook ages ago, but are still interested in brands like yours. 

Share your wisdom with branded infographics

A great way of raising brand awareness is by being present and engaging in online groups or people who are interested in your market. You can add value by providing free content as a business expert, but a face in a webinar with a small logo won’t do much for your brand awareness. 

Instead, or rather additionally, try to create infographics on the subjects you educate people about. Add recognizable branding to this and make them shareable, so people start seeing your name and branding in all the right places, directly linking them to your expertise.

Recognizable in red and always with snappy copy, Ogilvy is a king in branded infographics

Turn employees into brand ambassadors

Let’s be real here, we’d rather follow real people on platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram, than the businesses they work for. We’re all looking for content we connect with on a human level. Seeing something that comes from a company page immediately feels like it’s trying to sell you something. People are less likely to engage with it or share it. 

Content from real people, however, that’s where it gets interesting. Knowing this, it can pay off to train your employees to use platforms as LinkedIn. Every time they comment or share something valuable with a profile that has your branding weaved into it, you grow your brand awareness a little bit. 

Make guest appearances

Another smart way of making use of someone else’s audience, is by making an appearance in their content, whether that’s in webinars, podcasts, Instagram Q&As or blogs. By choosing the right partners you’re sure that your audience will be interested in what you have to add to the conversation, and it’s a great way to increase awareness amongst new people. 

Paid ads 

Whether its social media platforms or search engines: it’s becoming increasingly easy to target exactly the right people with paid ads. In the case of raising brand awareness, you can specifically aim at people who are interested in products like yours or the market you’re in, but who haven’t interacted with your brand. Tapping into this group with clear and creative messages could be an amazing way to boost your brand awareness. 

Organize contests and giveaways 

People get enough content to consume pushed at them on a daily basis. If you want their attention, ask them to create something, to interact with content, instead of just sitting there. With a little incentive, you could create a giveaway or competition that gains traction through shares, all while increasing brand awareness in a fun way. 

Get featured in industry publications

Now, this won’t happen overnight. It’s part of establishing yourself as an authority in your market. If you want to be considered for any industry publications, make sure you’re putting out a steady stream of valuable content in your blog and social media channels. If you can demonstrate you have something to share that their readers would love, you’ll have a foot in the door with possibly thousands of readers who are undoubtedly interested in getting to know you.

Retargeting

How many brands have you interacted with today? Chances are it’s too many to count. And that’s why some slip our minds, even though it would’ve been a great match — now, or further down the line. People who have visited your page and suddenly left don’t have to be considered gone: with the right techniques in place, you can set up smart retargeting campaigns to remind them of your business when the time is right. 

Don’t forget offline marketing is still a thing

While we spend most of our time looking at screens, we don’t necessarily pay attention to the brands we scroll past. That’s why some brands are thinking ‘’inside the box’’ again, and go back to investing more in offline marketing. 

A poster or billboard in relevant places could be a refreshing way to get your name out there. Big fan of measuring the effectiveness of your brand awareness campaigns? Include things like a QR code on your offline marketing material and create dedicated landing pages to see how much it pays off. 

Need a reminder of the best place to ship boxes with? DHL took their marketing outside. 

How to measure brand awareness

Now you know how to raise brand awareness, you’ll want to measure how effective your new strategies are. 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 specific brand awareness activities?…

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 creating brand awareness

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.

Frequently asked questions about brand awareness

What are the most important brand awareness metrics?

It’s a matter of combining the right metrics to create an image that gives you not just numbers, but also context. Here are some of the most important ones to measure:

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

Looking for more inspiration to measure brand awareness? Check out these 11 key brand awareness metrics.

How can I measure brand awareness?

Here are our top five ways to measure brand awareness

  1. Check your social media following
  2. Track your website traffic
  3. Use Google Trends data
  4. Survey your target audience
  5. Use brand tracking software

Does increasing brand awareness actually pay off?

Yes, it does! Brand awareness has a very real ROI, and it’s easier to measure than you;d think. Simply put: nobody buys from a brand if they don’t know it exists. Pre-and post-campaigns brand awareness numbers combined with sales numbers give you a better picture of the actual ROI of brand awareness

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.

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

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