Brand awareness.

You’ve heard it, you’ve talked about it, you’ve strived for it. You may have even waxed poetic about it in an all-hands-on-deck meeting discussing new marketing initiatives.

But while brand awareness is certainly one of those terms we’ve all heard and talked about, pinning down exactly what it means — and thus, how to achieve it — is often easier said than done.

Here’s the thing: in order to succeed, you need people to know your brand. Among consumers, 59 percent prefer to buy new products from brands they already know. Just as important, however, is being a small business brand that people know and trust. Your success with brand awareness is inherently tied up in brand perception, integrity, and trustworthiness, and all of these things play a key role in helping you appeal to new customers and keep your existing ones.

Say a term enough times, however, and it starts to become meaningless. And so we’ve put together this quick refresher on what brand awareness looks like and why it’s so beneficial — plus various ways of making it happen.

What is Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness refers to your brand’s familiarity among consumers and industry peers. It encompasses everything from your logo and products to your reputation and history.

There are a lot of benefits to strong brand awareness. When you get a cut on your finger, for example, do you go to the store looking for adhesive bandages, or do you go to the store looking for Band-Aids? When you and a friend are trying to settle an argument, do you say, “let’s look it up online,” or do you say, “let’s Google it”?

Our perception of brands and what they can do for us colors our behaviors as we make purchasing decisions and can instantly make a certain product or service more attractive than its competitors. That’s an excellent place to be in for a brand, and all companies should ultimately be striving to be the Band-Aids or Google of their respective fields when it comes to brand recognition. While we won’t all get there, making brand awareness a front-and-center concern is a good way to ensure you take action on strategies that will help you increase your ubiquity and authority among consumers.

Brand Awareness and the Buyer’s Journey

As marketers, we spend a lot of time and effort on our bottom-of-the-funnel strategies, creating content and campaigns driven to snag that all-important sale. But brand awareness lives primarily at the top of the funnel, and it’s just as critical to sustainable success.

Every prospect needs to start somewhere. At the “awareness” stage, a prospect has a problem and needs a solution for it. Where that solution comes from depends on which brands are either already on their radar or are able to get on their radar — and both of those things require targeted brand awareness.

Of course, very few brands make it into the coveted spot of household names. But getting there isn’t a necessity. Awareness exists on a spectrum, from completely unaware to very aware. Your brand awareness strategies at the top of the funnel should be based on your target audience’s general level of awareness, with various techniques to appeal to consumers on either end of the spectrum.

Methods of Achieving Brand Awareness

Your biggest goal with brand awareness: be the solution that your target audience turns to when they have a problem. And everything from your content strategy to your ad strategy should be focused on getting there. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Content marketing – Create SEO-driven content that helps ensure you’re one of the first results when someone searches for a relevant solution.
  • Guest-contributed content – Lend your insight to other publications to help establish thought leadership in your field.
  • Awards/recognition/press – Get involved in your industry and participate in platforms and events that help elevate your brand name.
  • Digital advertising – Plan an ad strategy that gets your solution in front of your target audience even before they’re ready to search for it.
  • Social media campaigns Amp up your social media presence to reach and engage with a larger pool of potential prospects.
  • Webinars Host webinars to help boost your brand authority and partner with similar (but non-competing) brands to tap into each other’s consumer base.
  • Review sites – Make sure you have a positive reputation online by encouraging reviews among satisfied customers and appropriately responding to (and, if possible, resolving) negative reviews when they do pop up.

Brand awareness isn’t a one-and-done type of strategy. You need to incorporate all of the tactics above to ensure that you’re covering all of your bases, treating each one like the thing that will make or break your efforts. From there, create surveys for existing customers to see how they came to discover your brand and use that information to bolster your efforts and bring on more brand awareness success.