Coca Cola, Apple, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Heinz. Whether you’ve ever shopped with these brands or not, you’ll know their names, logos and what they offer. It’s also likely you’ll have heard feedback about the brands from friends, family and work colleagues if you don’t have your own. Whether these names trigger a childhood memory of French fries and milkshakes, your favourite pair of trainers or family meals of beans on toast — it’s undeniable that these brands are household names.
But how do you get to the stage in your own business when the mere sight of your logo — or your target customer hearing your name — creates a level of recognition that automatically relays what you do and what you are about? This is great brand awareness. Below, we’ll explore what brand awareness is, how you can create and monitor your own campaign and some examples to give you some inspiration.
According to Oxford Languages, brand awareness is “the extent to which consumers are familiar with the qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services”. Note that it does not specify whether this is positive or negative — the qualities and image of a brand or their offering can, of course, be negative. Many businesses have negative brand awareness — not to be confused with poor brand awareness — and prospects may be extremely familiar with what that brand or business does, and still choose not to purchase from them. This may be due to ethics, morals, previous controversies or a poor quality product.
There is a plethora of great benefits to building your brand awareness. Although it won’t be a quick, overnight win, targeting your customers with adverts and content that clearly define who you are and what you do (including recognisable imagery) will steadily increase your business’s brand awareness over time.
As part of your wider business strategy, building your visibility should play a factor — you don’t want to spend a lot of money on customer acquisition for an indefinite period. By being known as a big player and a reliable business in the market, your marketing costs will reduce over time as you create customer loyalty and become more well-known.
Generally speaking, a business with positive brand awareness will see an increase in organic website traffic, brand searches and organic (free) sales. This is due to an increase in word-of-mouth referrals, recommendations and conversations, which often helps to create and reinforce brand authority and trust. The benefits of this include:
- Your brand being at the forefront of prospects’ and customers’ minds when they need a product or service such as yours
- Customer recall and recognition
- Increases in sales and market share
- Improved brand perception
- Stronger customer loyalty
- Lower marketing costs
So the impact of running a brand awareness campaign should not be underestimated.
A crucial part of running a brand awareness campaign is targeting your customers. A scattergun approach may be used for very short-term quick wins but, ultimately, targeting is crucial. There is very little point in spending time, resources and energy on making a big splash if your target audience and ideal customers are unlikely to see it. So think about who you want to target. This can include:
- Demographics such as age, gender and location
- Hobbies and interests
- Job titles, earnings and industries
- Shopping habits
- Online habits — social platforms, time spent online, preferred devices etc.
- Current challenges and pain points — that your business can solve
Businesses that are struggling with ‘getting their name out there’ or are having difficulties standing out among the competition should consider running a brand awareness campaign. Creating a brand awareness campaign will not only make your brand, logo and name more recognisable and memorable, you can use it to help shape the audience’s view of your brand.
While businesses rarely have a say in customer perception, you can take control of the narrative — especially as a newer business — by demonstrating your values, product or service quality, great customer service and trustworthiness through your brand awareness campaign.
Research from Edelman has shown that 53% of customers would only purchase from a new brand if they trusted it — this was the second most important factor stated, with price coming top at 64%. Our own research from Feefo’s Brand Perception Report showed that a whopping 74% of Britons always consider a brand’s values before purchasing from them. This puts companies very much in the driving seat in term
s of attracting customers by creating the right brand image for their target market.
How can we measure brand awareness for our businesses? While it’s difficult to get inside a customer’s brain, there are plenty of metrics we can explore to both measure and monitor this.
The traffic to your website is a great place to start. By taking a benchmark of daily/weekly/monthly traffic volumes before you begin, you can accurately track this over time to measure any increases.
We suggest monitoring the following web traffic metrics:
- All traffic volume
- New users vs returning users
- Traffic sources: particularly organic, direct and referral traffic (direct will show the volume of people typing your web address straight into their search bar, whereas referral will demonstrate traffic to your website from other sources — if the second increases over time, this is great!)
Social listening tools are a must-have for anyone who is taking their brand awareness seriously. These tools allow you to track social media mentions and conversations about your brand, whether or not you are tagged. This can also support you in addressing any complaints or grievances — another bonus point for good brand perception — and can help you monitor mentions.
As well as social listening, other key social media metrics to review are:
- Social media engagement
- Followers (being mindful not to obsess and focus on increasing followers as a key goal!)
- Social media messages
You can also set up Google Alerts for your brand name, industry, product or service. This will send you an email (at the frequency of your choice) tracking all mentions online for the keywords you set up, allowing you to track brand mentions over time.
As well as potential customers typing your website straight into Google — realistically, this is likely to occur during a follow-up visit to your website rather than the first occurrence — prospects may search for your name, product or service using search engines. What’s great about this is that there has to be brand awareness prior to them searching for you, and if this increases over time, it’s one indicator that your brand awareness strategy is heading in the right direction.
Customer surveys are crucial for businesses. Gaining feedback from those who decided to purchase from you is invaluable. One easy way of understanding your brand perception is by asking customers how they found you during the purchase journey — create a drop-down list to make it easier for the customer. Although not 100% accurate (some customers may skip this part or add a random answer) tracking referrals and recommendations from friends, family and colleagues can help you to monitor the efficacy of your brand awareness strategy.
In a similar vein, using your net promotor score (NPS) is a solid method that allows you to understand your brand perception from the inside out. Instead of asking new customers how they found you or monitoring interactions from prospects, ask your current customers how likely they are to recommend you based on their experience so far. This is a good indicator of positive brand perception and, again, can be benchmarked and re-visited over time.
NPS is one simple question:
“How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, relative or colleague?”.
This is answered on a scale of 1–10, where the following bands apply:
- Score 0–6: Detractors. Unhappy customers who are likely to go elsewhere and possibly damage your brand with word-of-mouth.
- Score 7–8: Passives. Satisfied customers but could be swayed by the competition. Not necessarily brand loyal.
- Score 9–10: Promoters. Loyal customers who will continue to buy from you and refer your brand to others
When it comes to running a brand awareness campaign, there are plenty of options f
or budgets of all sizes. One critical thing to remember, whether you’re running campaigns on one platform or six, is that consistency is absolutely key. If you are not consistent with your tone, your messaging, the presentation of your name, your logo, your imagery, design and colour schemes, prospects will end up confused and with mixed messages. So, whatever you choose to do, make sure you have a solid brand identity in place first.
Due to the complex targeting options available, social media ads are one of the most effective ways of running a brand awareness campaign. You can decide to only show your adverts to members of your target audience (by demographics, interests, hobbies etc.) and you can set maximum daily and monthly budgets. With enormous amounts of flexibility, you can tailor your campaigns to drive results such as engagements, traffic, conversions or generate leads.
Teaming up with a well-known brand (or better-known brand) is an easy and often mutually beneficial way of driving awareness among your target market. While we don’t necessarily suggest teaming up with a competitor, look at brands that have already established themselves in your market — perhaps a partner that offers complimentary but non-competing products and services to your own.
You can team up with your partner(s) and use the following strategies:
- Exchange leads
- Drive traffic to each other’s websites
- Piggyback from their marketing campaigns
- Offer a discount on both services
- Find shared PR or podcasting opportunities
- Guest blog on each other’s websites to drive backlinks.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is another very effective way of driving brand awareness. By bidding on keywords around your product or service, you can get your business in front of your ideal customer as they are actively looking for a product such as yours. With pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, you only pay when a customer clicks your ad, which means you’ll only be paying for targeted and relevant traffic to your website. You can run SEM campaigns through Google Ads and/or Microsoft Ads.
There are a couple of other tips and tricks you can use too, such as:
- Bidding on competitor brand keywords to ‘steal’ their traffic
- Bidding on your own brand keywords to stop others from stealing yours!
- Using Google’s data to add keywords over time
- Gaining insights about your demographics and audience — who is responding well to your ads?
- Using this data to create remarketing audiences
- Adding in-market audiences — this means getting your ads in front of customers who are actively searching for products related to or close to yours
- Create display advertising as well as search marketing to share your brand with people who may be interested in your product or service
Video campaigns can really make a splash and help you to stand out from the crowd. Create a video and upload it to YouTube — this can then be shared on all social media platforms as well as used in search engine marketing.
Once all the hard work has been done driving traffic to your website, make sure your remarketing strategy is in place! You can use the Google Ads Network, Microsoft Advertising Network, YouTube, Facebook or Instagram to show advertising (in the form of ad copy, images and/or videos) to those who already visited your website but did not convert. This encourages them to return to your website and will keep your name in the forefront of their minds for a period of your choice, up to 540 days!
One of the first examples of an effective brand awareness campaign is this video by Old Spice. Uploaded in June 2010, it quickly gained 5,600,000 views in 24 hours — an incredible feat in 2010 and now! It now has over 59,000,000 views and is one of the first examples of a viral brand campaign video, shaking up the modern marketing world in the process.
In 2012, Dollar Shave Club created an engaging, intelligent and funny campaign that was one of the first to openly use swearing in a brand’s marketing video. Again, the reception was huge and even now people remember this — as a result, Dollar Shave Club paved the way for monthly subscription boxes and is worth $1 billion today.
Hashtag brand awareness campaigns have also proven to be very effective. Key examples include:
- #IceBucketChallenge: Generating $115 million for The ALS Association in 2014 through the Ice Bucket Challenge
- #ShareACoke: Increasing annual sales volume by 11% YoY by encouraging users to buy and gift a coke through personalised bottles
- #ShareYourEars: Raising over $1 million by asking customers to tweet #ShareYourEars and donate $5 to Make-A-Wish for each tweet. Disney later doubled the amount, donating $2 million.
As suggested, it’s important to benchmark your current state of play before making any changes. Create your brand awareness strategy with goals, KPIs and targets in mind. To get started, we suggest some of the following goals to set:
- Increase sales and revenue (overarching theme) by £X or £%
- Increase leads and sign-ups by X%
- Increase total website traffic by X%
- Increase X source traffic by X% — for example, direct, paid, organic, referrals
- Increase brand search terms by X%
- Increase brand mentions by X%
- Increase social media engagement by X%
Set up a dashboard or document where this can be regularly monitored. It’s important to track when your campaigns go live so that you can attribute any improvements to the right campaign. Use UTMs to track traffic if you are using social media or search engine marketing to support your attribution.
As always, when running a campaign, iteration is key! You might not get it right the first time, so regularly check in on results and refine your targeting, messaging and/or content as needed.
To conclude, brand awareness is critical for businesses that want to survive in the long term. Before even thinking about the campaigns to run, start with audience research to narrow down your targeting, platforms and the types of campaigns that they are likely to respond well to. From this, you can consider which platforms and content to use that will serve your audience the best.
Make sure your message is clear, aligns with your brand and, most importantly, is consistent across all platforms. In doing so, you are sure to create a successful brand awareness strategy that drives results.
Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
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