There are no two ways about it – getting people to notice your brand is challenging. Brands that are new to us may emerge onto our horizons with seemingly straightforward ease, but it’s more than likely that a huge amount of hard work and resource has gone into getting us to notice that brand.
Brand awareness looks at how familiar people are with a brand and how well they can recognise or recall it. Establishing brand awareness adds muscle to product marketing efforts, especially if the business behind the brand is relatively new or unheard of. Brand reputation is notoriously difficult to measure, which is one reason why 80% of marketers’ biggest goals are to develop – and presumably measure – brand awareness. Here’s why:
Brand awareness cultivates trust
In the marketing world, it’s no secret that word of mouth and social media recommendations still reign supreme when converting prospects into paying customers. 88% of consumers are likely to purchase from a brand after reading reviews from other customers on social media. High levels of consumer trust in a brand are pivotal to its success, so making sure to thank customers for positive reviews and sensitively handling negative reviews in the public sphere can be vital to improving your reputation online.
Brand association builds its own vocabulary
He Hoovers the carpet. I grab a Coke. You Google the recipe for chocolate brownies.
Here, commonplace terms that describe vacuuming, searching the internet, and drinking cola have been replaced with branded terms. These brands and their products are so closely associated with the actions they were designed to carry out that consumers have subconsciously replaced their common descriptors with branded ones.
Brand equity is built on brand awareness
A brand’s value is described as brand equity. A brand that consumers feel positive about will carry a high brand equity, and the opposite applies to negative brand experiences. Brand equity is useful for reasons that can include increased social impact due to a brand name, the option to expand through product line extensions, higher stock prices, and the ability to charge more for a product due to a perception of higher value.
How to increase brand awareness
One thing’s for sure: building brand awareness doesn’t happen in an instant. It takes strategic development and a fleet of resource-heavy tactics integrated across multiple channels. There’s no doubting its value, so here are 10 ways to increase brand awareness.
1. Develop an authentic voice
The maxim goes that people do business with people. They don’t do business with companies, organisations, or businesses. The whole concept of a brand relies on consumers being able to think about and interact with you in a human way. Successful brands have an authentic personality, whether this is sincere, exciting, competent, sophisticated, or rugged. They have their own language and tone of voice.
Just look at the way Uber uses language and tone of voice on its website to portray the brand as your friendly, considerate cabbie; simple, bold, and consistent: “Where to, Jessica? Let’s go.” An effective brand has character traits, just as a person does. Think about how you might describe your brand as if it were a friend.
2. Ask customers to leave a review
There’s never been any form of promotion stronger than word-of-mouth recommendation (or eWoM if you’re looking for the digital equivalent). The impact of customer ratings and reviews can have a sensational effect on any business. Not only is this the best kind of content, it’s created for your brand free of charge by your very own customers, and it also has significant impact on search rankings, organic website traffic, and conversion rates. If you’re struggling to encourage customers to give reviews for your products, you could consider integrating a review platform into your customer journey process.
3. Be social
Recent times have made it clearer than ever that humans are social beings. We all benefit from being around others and spending time together. It’s how we learn new things, meet new people, and stay connected. Your brand is no different. We all know that friend who only gets in touch when they want something. Well, in brand terms, that’s the company that only posts on social media or engages with you when they want to sell you one of their products. Nobody tolerates those friends for long, and the same goes for brands. It may seem counterintuitive, but posts on social media don’t always have to be related to your product or company. Treat your social media presence as though it were a person trying to make friends rather than a business vying for profit.
4. Tell stories with incredible content
We all love a good story. Why? Because stories bring subjects and characters to life. They stick in our memories and can trigger our emotions. Stories can teach us important lessons. If this is the case (which it most certainly is), then using narrative to increase brand awareness is a no-brainer. Storytelling adds a human layer to a brand and gives it depth and your brand’s story can be about anything; there are a myriad of creative ideas to choose from. AirBnB did a fantastic job of cementing its market position as a leading travel brand by sharing an animated video, which told the story of how 550,000 guests had spent New Year’s Eve in AirBnB apartments: a huge rise from just 2,000 travellers on the same night five years previously.
5. Help people to share your stuff
Sharing is caring, so why not help your audience to share your content? Just about anything can be shared online and, if consumers of your content enjoy it enough, they will be happy to share it with friends, family, colleagues – and even complete strangers. This essentially amounts to social proof; a positive share is not far off a recommendation in the digital world. Leverage the power of personal recommendation by making sure that your content is easily shareable. You’ve put so much effort into it, after all.
6. Giveaways and competitions
This is a tactic that has almost endless variations. Everybody likes to think they’ve got something for nothing; that’s basic human psychology. If your giveaway or competition is enticing enough to break through the noise and clutter of the web, it’s likely that it will attract the attention of a new audience that wouldn’t have otherwise interacted with your brand. Oh, and they might share it with their friends.
7. Invest in search marketing
A mind-blowing average of 70,000 searches were performed on Google every second in 2020. That’s nearly 227 million searches every hour, amounting to a massive 5.4 billion searches a day. It’s impossible to discuss brand awareness without including search engine optimisation (SEO) or search marketing. In simple terms, effective SEO will mean that your online presence ranks higher on Google’s search engine results page (SERPS). Ranking in a higher position on the SERPS means that your brand will be easier for potential customers to find, as well as appearing as a credible option to your audience. SEO is a complex art, so employ this tactic early to ensure you maximise your gains in the longer term.
8. Sponsor events
Sponsoring the right event has always been a rock-solid way of presenting your brand to a new audience that is likely to be your target audience, but that might otherwise seem out of reach. It’s still just as valid an option in the digital era, even if it’s sometimes overlooked as a strong contender in the marketing mix in favour of newer, digital tactics. However, in this new post-pandemic world, sponsoring online streamed events is also an excellent option to think about. Be sure to only sponsor events with which your brand has a synergy for a decent ROI. Sponsorship doesn’t even have to be limited to events; take Red Bull as an epic example of what bold sponsorship can do for a brand. Having pursued a daring campaign of sponsoring extreme sporting events and athletes, the energy drink is inherently associated with acts of fearlessness and thrilling adventures – the inference being that if we drink Red Bull, we too can be the same.
9. Leverage influencers
Influencer marketing is causing a bit of a buzz, and it’s for good reason. 61% of consumers aged 18 to 34 have, at some point, been swayed in their decision to purchase by online influencers. An entire market has sprung up around influencing, with some digital celebs charging colossal fees to promote products and brands. If you decide to go down the influencer route (which is a necessity if you’re marketing to millennials and Gen Z), micro-influencers could be a smart move; they’ll be more cost-effective and are more likely to deliver an authentic view of your brand to a young audience that rates authenticity and ethics above any other generation in living memory.
10. Keep it topical
Marketing teams need to stay on top of what’s going on in their industries and the world around them if they want to produce content that is relevant to their audience. Not keeping an eye on the external environment is the equivalent of housing your marketing team in a cave. The result? Irrelevant content that doesn’t meet your customers’ needs.
How to measure brand awareness
You’ve designed your strategy and implemented the tactics, so how do you know if people are aware of your brand? Yes, we did say it’s notoriously tough to measure, but it’s not impossible. Sophisticated software exists that makes it easy to collate and analyse the data that builds a picture of what the market knows about your brand. Pair this with a customer review platform and the insights gained will step your marketing efforts up a notch and take your brand to the next level.
Here are some of the key brand awareness metrics to monitor so you know that you’re moving in the right direction. Quantitative metrics include:
- Direct traffic: visitors to your website who intentionally type your URL into their browser. Direct traffic data is important because these visitors need an awareness of your brand before they typed in the URL.
- Site traffic: includes, but is not limited to, direct traffic. Indications of market share can be gleaned by comparing the numbers to the general internet population. Site traffic can be sifted further to show new vs. returning visitors.
- Social media engagement: careful monitoring of new followers, page likes, shares, and reviews across your social media channels can be a good indicator of brand awareness and the impact that your content is having on your audience.
Qualitative measures are more subjective and difficult to quantify, but the following data might provide a feel for your brand awareness:
- Social listening: tools that monitor social media for organic mentions of your brand and any engagement, such as the sentiment of messages received from enquiries. If measured accurately, it’s a powerful way of understanding how people feel about your brand.
- Review platforms: the best way to find out how someone feels about your brand is to ask them. Review platforms make it easy for marketers to reach out to audiences and receive feedback in an instant. Customer surveys are still an effective research tool and tend to be a basic function of review platforms nowadays. If you want to find out how consumers think about your brand, a review platform can offer seriously sophisticated technology and deliver insights as deep as you’re willing to dive.
- Google Alerts: will ping an email into your inbox to notify you whenever your brand is being talked about online. Set up alerts to find out whether it’s been featured in an article or if people are talking about your brand elsewhere in the internet universe.
By no means an exhaustive list, employing these 10 tactics should give you food for thought in increasing your brand awareness. As mid- to long-term brand building strategies, you’re bound to reap the rewards and gain a loyal following if used creatively and effectively across your channels.