When society started talking about ‘hoovering’ in place of vacuuming, the Hoover brand solidified its status as a proprietary eponym (meaning it replaced a generic term in our language; in this case, vacuuming).
Achieving proprietary eponym status is the dream for any brand, but beyond this lofty ambition, there are plenty of meaningful ways you can boost awareness of your brand – even if it doesn’t replace everyday language any time soon.
In this blog, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about increasing brand awareness: from why it’s important, to the best strategies to deploy today. We’ve even thrown in some examples for an added touch of inspiration (and given ourselves a shameless plug while we’re at it).
Importance of establishing brand awareness
So, why is brand awareness so important?
To get straight to the point, branding is everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. You can have perfect products, stellar services, and the world’s biggest budget for fancy marketing campaigns, but without a decent amount of brand awareness, you’re not going to get very far. It all comes down to your brand, and what sets it apart.
Before we go any further, let’s get back to basics. When we talk about your brand, it’s not just your name or your logo; it’s those things, and more. Your brand is a perfect mix of name, logo, what you offer, and the content you put out into the world; in other words, the whole human experience your customer has when it comes to your brand.
Effective branding is great for driving customer recognition, increasing confidence in your company, and establishing brand equity – but you want more. And that’s where brand awareness comes in.
When your brand becomes familiar to people and they start to really understand who you are, what you do, and why you’re different, your reputation grows; it’s easier to build excitement around product launches and fresh services; you’ll start to benefit from loyal customers and repeat business, and keeping one step ahead of the competition will be all in a day’s work.
Brand awareness vs brand recognition
When we talk about brand awareness, it’s important to remember that it’s a little different from brand recognition. Brand recognition is simply about how well a customer – or potential customer – can identify your brand on the basis of visuals, such as logo and brand colours.
A great example of strong brand recognition would be spying McDonald’s ‘golden arches’, and knowing you’re about to call in for a McFlurry. There’s absolutely no chance of mistaking the famous ‘M’ for another brand, and the visual recognition is so strong that within seconds of seeing it, you’re imagining yourself tucking into your favourite maccies. McDonald’s is the gold-standard for brand recognition and could probably get by on this alone, but most brands need the depth that comes with brand awareness.
Brand awareness is like brand recognition’s big brother – the one brand recognition looks up to, in awe and amazement, wondering “will I ever be that big”. That’s because brand awareness is savvy enough to know that looks aren’t everything: it’s what’s inside that counts. (By inside, we mean the feeling your brand conjures in your customers. We’re not just plucking analogies out of thin air here).
So as well as being able to name your brand from a logo, brand awareness is about the bigger picture: how your target audience feels when they hear your name; what they understand about your ethos; how well they know your products and services. The reason all that matters so much? Once you’re dealing in brand awareness, those costly marketing campaigns you put so much love (and budget) into start to stir up feelings in your customers. Result!
Brand recognition is great because it means that people are connecting with your brand, but brand awareness takes this one step further. As well as capturing the attention of your audience in a memorable way, brand awareness is more focused on your:
- Unique selling points
Ultimately, this is what makes potential customers choose your brand over that of your competitors, regardless of product price or cost of services. It’s about drawing people in, engaging with them, inspiring trust, and creating a personal connection – which all equates to greater growth for your business. Not to mention higher profits and brighter long-term prospects.
Brand recognition and brand awareness are really closely intertwined, and strengthening one will always have a positive impact on the other. They speak to your audience in different ways, but those ways work together to grab attention and carve out your unique space in the market.
But while recognition is about being able to spot your brand in a line-up, awareness is calling it to mind without any visual clue – like when you’re thirsty, and you know you want a Coke when there’s not a red bottle in sight; or you’re in need of a taxi, and summon an Uber without even contemplating a comparison search of taxi companies nearby.
It’s this level of awareness that takes you from recognisable, to truly memorable. And that’s where the true success stories happen.
So, how do you get there?
How to increase brand awareness: Our 15 top strategies
Take a look at 15 of the most effective strategies for boosting your brand awareness.
- Create a custom #hashtag
Hashtags are great for getting you noticed, but even better than tagging onto an existing hashtag is to create your own – especially when that hashtag gains traction!
- Make yourself memorable
Standing out from the crowd is no easy feat, but if you’ve got the sort of brand that can take a heavy dose of personality (or even better, a humongous dose of humour), you might just crack this whole brand awareness thing. Be loud; be proud; be you.
- Tell first-rate stories
Who are you? What do you stand for? What’s so great about you? Where did you spring up from? The better the story, the more engaged your audience. Create a narrative, and weave it into every piece of marketing.
- Offer referral perks
Word of mouth is an oldie, but a goodie. If you want to get people talking about you, what’s in it for them? A freebie? A discounted service? Make it worth their while, and word will spread in no time.
- Sponsor local or national events
However far your budget can stretch, the brand awareness opportunities that come with sponsorship are worth their weight in gold! Try to sponsor an event that either aligns with your brand, or correlates with your brand ethos.
- Guest blog
If you have something important to say, or valuable content to share, finding a relevant site with a large readership willing to post your contribution can get your brand in front of a whole new audience.
- Establish a branded presence on social media
A strong brand voice is one of the most effective tools in your advertising arsenal. Once you’ve got that down pat, post regularly to social media using your brand voice. Your brand voice should also be used in every online interaction.
- Make shareable infographics
When you create something that other people want to share, you’re quids in (from a marketing and branding perspective, anyway). Having your name associated with something valuable will also up your brand equity.
- Post display ads on the Google Display Network
If you’re not sure what we mean by display ads, they’re simply the banner ads that run on advertising-supported sites – making them great for getting your name out there, and your brand noticed.
- Give out freebies
Branded merchandise, done right, can mean your brand sticking around someone’s home, car, or office for a long time to come. Research your target audience and give some real thought to what they’ll value. Pens aren’t always where it’s at.
- Create a buzz with competitions
How many times a day does someone on your newsfeed share a competition post? People love the chance to win – whether it’s an experience, a product, or simply a title. Devise a competition that requires people to share your company profile – and make it fun!
- Plump for podcasts
Everyone’s a broadcaster these days, right? Well, the savvy ones certainly are. Starting an industry-relevant podcast can set you up as a thought-leader, and propel you towards household name status. If there’s a lot of existing competition in your industry, try to get a guest spot on someone else’s!
- Create some controversy
Feeling brave? Sticking your head above the parapet and voicing a controversial opinion that may differ from the norm can generate some serious brand awareness. Just make sure the stance fits your brand!
- Stand for something good
What matters to your brand? Find that one thing, and create do-good campaigns around it. People will respect you, employees will feel more engaged, and your name will be associated with something great.
- Influence the influencers
Pinpoint the most influential people in your industry, and entice them to do the marketing for you. Offer them freebies of your product or services, in exchange for reviews, promotion, or useable testimonials.
Examples of companies building their brand awareness
Whether you do it through company culture, clever marketing, a strong brand voice, or any combination of effective ways to build your brand awareness, it helps to see which companies are making strides in their industry.
- TOMS: Footwear company TOMS has created a brand awareness status to be reckoned with. How? By doing good in the world! In developing a socially-conscious ethos, and leaving their customers in no doubt about what they stand for, people will happily hand over far more cash than is necessary for a simple pair of pumps, because they know they’re helping others in need.
- Dropbox: Making use of incentives to drive referrals? Dropbox has it covered! By granting users an additional 500MB-1GB of storage for every person they recommend, Dropbox successfully achieved a 3900% brand awareness increase in the space of 15 months; doubling its user base every three months.
- Pretty Little Thing: PLT takes the power of influencer marketing to new levels. They understand their target market to perfection, and by snapping up the biggest stars of shows like Love Island, their brand ambassadors do all the hard work for them. Gemma Owen, daughter of footie legend Michael Owen, has been signed most recently after making it to the Love Island finals – but fan-favourite Molly Mae is, perhaps, their most successful (and influential) signing to date.
- Burger King: Burger King has social media presence, consistent brand voice, and a strong sense of humour all on point – and their multi-faceted approach to building brand awareness is beautiful to see. Their witty responses and light-hearted ‘trolling’ have earned them the rep of funniest brand on social media, and their customers know it.
Even with examples to follow and brands to aspire to, it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start. The good news? You don’t have to go it alone.
How can Forsta help?
Remember that shameless plug we mentioned at the beginning? Well here it is! In all seriousness though, we really do have something worth shouting about. That’s because we’ve developed a pretty nifty piece of software that you can use to increase your brand awareness.
Launching or changing a product or service can be a scary business, but our software removes the guesswork.
- Map the market: Find out what your customers want, how you can win their loyalty, and how you stack up against your competitors.
- See consumers in action: Test your product or service on your dream customer; see how they react, and make changes that’ll help your brand awareness to stick.
- Put your branding to the test: Not sure what’ll work? Test your marketing decisions in front of a select audience and get real-time feedback.
- Name your price: You don’t want to be known for the wrong reasons, so make sure the price is right by testing with real consumers.
Not bad, eh?
Feeling more aware?
You made it to the end! That means you should be pretty clued up on brand awareness by now, and have a much clearer idea of how to get seen, heard, and remembered by your target audience.
If it feels overwhelming, keep in mind that once your brand awareness starts gaining traction, it’ll be easier to ride the wave. And if you need a helping hand from someone with the software and solutions to get inside the minds of your ideal customers (in a brand-testing sort of way; we’re not telepathic), then give us a call. Or something even more modern.
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