It’s one of those terms you hear all the time: brand awareness. It seems pretty straightforward at first, but what are we really talking about when we say “awareness?” And how do you measure it or translate it into something meaningful you can act on with your marketing strategy?
Brand awareness is characterized by consumers’ recognition of your company or product name, and it includes consumers’ thoughts about the quality of your products or services. It can also include awareness of your particular brand mission, a cause your brand is aligned with, or values your brand stands for.
For example, a roofing company that has successfully captured awareness will be the name that comes to mind when a homeowner needs their roof replaced—because that company’s name and message has stuck with them, likely through a combination of marketing and word of mouth over time. Once a consumer is familiar with a brand name, they’ll be primed to click on ads and search results for that brand, act on a referral from a friend, or remember the brand’s ads when they actually need their service.
Obviously every business wants to improve awareness at some level and strives to build positive associations among customers and prospective clients. For a startup or the launch of a new product, awareness is a primary marketing goal that will be measured in very different ways than an established business.
Awareness should be a goal for every business, but what’s the best way to create it?
While building awareness is a common goal, ultimately your brand awareness goals and strategies will be unique to your business. Here are a few tips and best practices to follow:
Define Awareness for Your Business
For an established business, positioning your company as a leader in your industry may be the kind of awareness you want. On the other hand, startups and small businesses in competitive industries may have more specific awareness goals to set and track, like website visits, branded search terms, and social popularity.
When setting your awareness goals, be realistic and set attainable goals. Name recognition is important. (After all, people feel more comfortable doing business with a company they know—or that they’ve at least heard of.) But if you’ve been in business for a short time, becoming a recognizable name in your industry nationwide is probably not a short-term goal. Keep in mind the competitive framework in which you’re operating.
It’s best to choose one or two realistic goals and stay focused on reaching them. It’s fine to have several awareness goals, but resist the temptation to try to accomplish too many things all at once. Identify your audience and stick to goals that will build awareness with them.
Some brand awareness goals to consider:
- Website traffic (total and new visitors)
- Blog visits (new and old posts)
- Social followers and engagement
- Downloads (ebooks, articles, etc.)
- Video views
Leverage the Right Tools
Choose the platforms your target audience uses and look for ways to engage with them to build brand recognition. Social media has become a fundamental part of doing business and building brands. You may also want to explore local search and PPC to bring local customers with specific needs to your business. Whatever you decide, ensure that your digital strategy prioritizes mobile and your content is optimized for any screen.
While digital is important for brand building, don’t overlook mass media such as radio and TV. Both provide the opportunity for huge reach, as well as effective targeting capabilities and opportunities for storytelling to build emotional connections. In addition, radio advertising is often very affordable, which is a critical element in building awareness and making the most of your marketing investment.
One of the best ways to build awareness is by developing relationships with your customers. Go beyond just making a sale—focus on making a lasting impression. Stay in touch with follow-up phone calls or emails, and reward loyalty. Customer retention is one of the best ways to build awareness, because a loyal customer is likely to refer others to your company. Plus, it’s much more cost effective to retain a loyal customer than to find new ones.
Another way to build relationships is by engaging followers on social media and serving up relevant, helpful content, like articles and resources that provide tips and information. Use social media to show off your brand’s personality, and develop a social media plan to ensure you stay active. If someone visits your Facebook page and notices you haven’t posted in a couple of months (let alone interacted with followers), they may assume you’ve gone out of business.
Finally, showcasing your brand’s commitment to the community can help you build real human relationships and memorable experiences. Some ideas include participating in large community events, taking advantage of sponsorship opportunities that appeal to your target audience, or even hosting your own in-store events.
Be Consistent and Patient
For some business owners, this is the most challenging part. Building awareness takes time and commitment. Developing a brand style guide and consistent messaging can go a long way to present a seamless brand across media, and stick to it. It’s important to embrace that consistency and patience are part of the game at the outset of your brand building efforts. Otherwise, it’s easy to become frustrated and abandon your plan before it has a chance to take off.
Awareness is an essential part of growing your business, so give it the attention it deserves. Make “brand awareness” mean something specific to your business objectives, and develop a detailed strategy that stays focused on your target audience and utilizes the right media to reach them.