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 brand awareness success is inherently tied to brand perception, integrity, and trustworthiness; all of these things play a key role in appealing to new customers and keeping existing ones.

Brand awareness is a simple concept but a challenging task. 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.

Why is Brand Awareness Important?

Brand awareness is an integral part of a business that cements trust and credibility with consumers — it’s the deciding factor between why consumers will pick your business over your competitors.

You build on brand recognition amongst customers and target audiences, customer loyalty, and brand credibility with brand awareness. Beyond setting yourself apart amongst customers, brand awareness helps you stay consistent in your communication with your target audience, which boosts the confidence of your brand and business. 

Brand Awareness and the Buyer’s Journey

As marketers, we spend a lot of time and effort on our bottom-of-the-funnel strategiescreating 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.

How to Build Brand Awareness

Freemium Offers

Give potential customers a taste of your premium and enterprise solutions or products. Freemium offers give interested prospects a sneak peek into what your product or service is about – an opportunity for them to try it before they buy it. 

You can take this further by adding a credit to your brand for the freemium offer. This means that you are getting your brand in front of new audiences who may opt for your premium or enterprise offerings for every share, service, or product use. 

  1. Referral programs 

Advancements in digital technology and advertising have changed how word-of-mouth marketing is done. However, it is still an important way of building your brand awareness. When satisfied customers spread the gospel of your good business, excellent products, and services, you have the power of social proof on your side.

With referral programs, your customers pitch your products or services to those in their circle in return for a reward that you are willing to give. Referral programs increase your brand awareness credibly and get you more sales and ultimately more business revenue.

  1. Social Media Marketing

Don’t ignore social media marketing in building your brand awareness. With billions of active social media users and new social media platforms springing up from time to time, it is a great channel to quickly get your brand known and in front of the right audience.

It would be almost impossible to set up a presence on every social media platform. Hence, it is best to stick with one or two where a large number of your target audience converge. You can create content that speaks to your audience directly, which will help spread awareness about your brand. 

Podcasts

Build your brand awareness while establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry with podcasts. You get to develop valuable business relationships with other experts in your field as you invite them to share their thoughts on your business podcast.

Also, you open your brand to new audiences as you partner with other experts on various content. With podcasts, your audience enjoys the valuable and actionable content you provide them with, while your brand enjoys the increased brand awareness. 

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.

  • SEO & Content marketing – anticipate the intent of buyer personas and the keywords they are likely to search for when looking for your product or service. Then, create SEO-driven content targeting those keywords that help ensure you’re one of the first few results when someone searches for a relevant solution.

Optimize the pages of your website with relevant keywords to ensure that it shows up in search results when potential customers conduct searches with the exact keywords or related ones. 

  • Guest-contributed content – Lend your insight to other publications to help establish thought leadership in your field. Guest contributed content introduces your brand to new audiences, which means more eyes for your business. 

Do not create wishy-washy guest-contributed content to have something to put up on other websites. On the contrary, the content you contribute via guest-posting should be thoughtful, valuable, and engaging to the targeted audience. 

First impressions are important, and you want to make a lasting one on the new set of eyes that will learn about your brand. 

  • Awards/recognition/press – Get involved in your industry and participate in platforms and events that help elevate your brand name.

Sponsor events that align with your company values, industry, and business goals. Audiences that attend events are highly qualified and specialized – getting your brand in front of them is a great way to build your brand awareness.

Cement this by distributing branded freebies to the attendants. Your brand benefits from brand awareness and some word-of-mouth marketing from attendants who want to associate with sponsors of the events they attend. 

  • 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 & Contests – Amp up your social media presence to reach and engage with a larger pool of potential prospects. Organize regular social media contests to keep your brand trending and increase social mentions.
  • 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.

Tips for Measuring Success

Like other marketing metrics, a great way to ensure you are going in the right direction is to measure your brand awareness. However, unlike other marketing metrics, you may not get accurate figures, but you can gauge your activities and determine if your brand is going in the right direction. 

Brand awareness can be measured quantitatively and qualitatively.

Quantitative Measuring

Quantitative measuring focuses on numbers that give you an idea of how well your brand is faring. The numbers to focus on are:

  • Direct website traffic
  • Site traffic numbers
  • Social engagement

Qualitative Measuring

Qualitative measuring may not provide accurate figures but gives you an overview of your brand awareness efforts. Some activities to focus on for qualitative measuring include,

  • Social listening
  • Conducting surveys
  • Setting up Google alerts for brand mentions

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.