How familiar is your target audience with your brand? Do your customers easily recognize your company? Does your business have distinctive qualities that people relate to?
These are the traits that define strong brand awareness. Amazon has it. They’re the most valuable brand in the world at $188 billion. McDonald’s has it. They’re the most profitable fast-food brand worldwide. Nike has it. They’re the leading apparel brand in the world.
Brand awareness has its benefits. It doesn’t necessarily mean the entire world will know about you, but you can establish brand awareness with your target audience while you’re marketing your business. In the process, you’ll cultivate trust, develop associations to your product or service, and build brand integrity.
Here’s how to create brand awareness for your business.
Define Your Brand
The first step in creating brand awareness is defining your brand identity. Who are you as a brand? Why do you exist? What are your values? To properly define your brand, you need to be more than a business that sells a product or service. There needs to be something deeper so consumers can relate to you. Think of your brand more like a person than a company. A person has likes and dislikes, passions and pursuits, and reasons for doing the things they do.
A classic example of this is the for-profit company TOMS. With every purchase you make, you stand with TOMS on issues that matter. Their motto is “Together We Stand,” an appropriate moniker given that their business started by selling shoes. For each pair you buy, they provide a pair to a needy child. To date, TOMS has donated 86-million pairs of shoes thanks to consumer purchases. They have since expanded to offer different products supporting a variety of different causes.
Here’s the lesson. TOMS is defined by their willingness to give. People know that when they buy a product from TOMS, they’re also helping a cause they believe in. It defines TOMS as a business but it also serves to define the consumer, who feels like a valuable contributor in making the world a better place.
Use Social Media
According to a Forbes Insights report, global executives credit more than half of their brand’s reputation to how social they are online. Social media gives you a golden opportunity to communicate with your followers and show them what your brand is all about. If you’re only talking with your customers when you want something from them (like a sale), you’re establishing a negative identity for your brand. It doesn’t look good for you or your brand and consumers will see through it.
Instead, create brand awareness by posting to social platforms. Don’t just post product photos and focus solely on sales, though. Ask questions of your audience, comment on their posts, share their content, and follow them back. At the very least, whenever someone mentions you in a post, let them know you saw it and that you care by giving it a like. It may seem like a lot of work (especially if you have a lot of followers), but if you’re going to do social, do it right.
Blaze Pizza adopted this philosophy. If you follow Blaze on Twitter, your feed is littered with their likes. Some musicians and athletes have taken to following every fan that follows them. It shows that they’re down to earth and not above their admirers, as many entertainers oftentimes appear to be. Rock guitarist Orianthi follows many of her followers. When someone mentions her, she oftentimes follows them back and hits the like button. It’s a smart move on her part as it creates a more intimate relationship with her fans. It shows that she cares.
Make Sure People Can Share Your Content
A great way to help create brand awareness is to get people to share your content. So make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Don’t make them search for a way to share it with their family and friends. No matter how you’re posting content—blogs, videos, social media, or product sales pages—make sure your visitors can easily share it with buttons and links before, after, and/or along the side of your content.
Red Bull gets almost 30-million shares each year. How do they do it? They’re selling a lifestyle as much as they’re selling an energy drink. This goes back to defining your brand. They’ve built a video media empire that encompasses everything from extreme sports to music and more, and they’ve got the impressive numbers to back up their popularity.
Create great content that appeals to your target audience, then provide them with the opportunity to share it. The more eyes that see what you’ve created, the more brand awareness you’ll generate. (Keep in mind that visual content is over 40x more likely to get shared on social. So get your best pictures and videos together and make an impact.)
Tell Your Brand’s Story
As long as you’re defining your brand, why not share the story of how it got started? Storytelling is a strong marketing maneuver. It’s also marketing science, as it activates the sensory cortex in your brain. You could talk about how you (or your brand’s founder) got the idea for the business in the first place. Maybe you could offer a timeline of how the business has evolved. What lessons have you learned along the way? Have you beaten the odds to get where you are today?
Warby Parker is a good example. The prescription eyeglasses retailer vows to offer designer eyewear at a fair price, while also leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Their story began when they were college students. They decided that eyeglasses were too expensive. One of them lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford to replace them. So he spent his first semester of grad school squinting and complaining about it. The rest of them had similar stories. It was difficult to find great frames that didn’t cost a small fortune. So they developed a company that addressed the problem.
Stories like these help customers identify with a brand. If you humanize your brand, and if you’re authentic, it gives your audience something real and something honest to associate with. They’ll reward you if they can relate to you—or at least appreciate your brand story.
Offer Something of Value for Free
Lead magnets. Trial periods. Sample product giveaways. These are all wonderful examples of things you can give away for free (in exchange for an email address, of course). But what about giving away an entry-level portion of your product for free? Some businesses call it a “freemium.” This is a business model that lets customers use a small part of your product without charge while incentivizing them to upgrade to a full version. It gives customers a taste of your brand.
You’ll see this a lot with apps. For example, many photo-editing apps allow you to use some of their filters or editing features for free so you can get a feel for how the app works and how useful it is. But they’ll restrict certain premium (and arguably far more desirable) areas. These features are available via in-app purchases.
Trello is another example. The project management software company has a free version for customers to use. It has some impressive standard features and gives users a taste of what Trello’s all about. But the Business Class and Enterprise models really kick up the goods, especially for larger teams with greater needs.
Referral programs that offer incentives to “spread the word” are also great ways to create brand awareness. Uber, the popular ride-sharing app, assigns each customer a personalized referral code. When a new customer creates an account using that code, they get a free ride and so does the person that gave it to them. Subscription services like FabFitFun, which offers premium products for women, provides codes for subscribers to give to friends. This introduces the brand to new customers by giving them something of value for free—a free starter box.
If you really want to boost your brand awareness, sponsor local and/or national events. This brand awareness tactic involves digging into your pockets a bit, but the return on your investment could prove to be very valuable. Think of the events you’ve attended: concerts, expos, sporting events, festivals, and more. You’ve likely seen sponsor logos and names on everything from signage to product giveaways and apparel.
By sponsoring events, you get your brand name in front of large groups of people quickly. It’s all the better if the event matches your brand’s personality. Then you’re reaching your target market with your brand name.
Let’s look at a massive, worldwide example. Pepsi sponsors the NFL’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. The cost is substantial. Pepsi reportedly pays between $4 and $8 million for the sponsorship. But they’re promoting their brand to approximately 115-million viewers before, during, and after the performance, not to mention all the people that see the year-round promotions tied to the event. According to one MIT Sloan School of Management student, it’s a bargain compared to locking up a 30-second or one-minute commercial. Does Pepsi need the publicity? Who’s to say? By making it an annual affair, however, they create a strong partnership with the NFL, its Super Bowl organizers, and the swarm of football-crazed consumers who see their brand name. Pepsi obviously deems that to be a worthwhile investment.
Now for a much smaller sponsorship example. Steel City Grammers, an influential photo group in Pittsburgh, held a portrait event that attracted over 100 photographers to a local studio. One of the sponsors was the national brand Hex, who makes camera bags, backpacks, and more. Why did Hex decide to sponsor the event? For starters, they’re reaching out to a target audience by adding their brand name to all the advertising for the event. And by providing some free product for random drawing winners, they created additional brand awareness. The photographers that didn’t win were looking at the camera bags and admiring the quality, all the while thinking, “I’d like to have one of those.” See what Hex did there?
Bottom line—get involved. Find an event that matches your brand’s personality, become a sponsor, and you could introduce yourself to an entirely new yet targeted audience. (If you’re a B2B brand, definitely checkout HubSpot’s INBOUND conference!)
Measure Your Brand Awareness
So you’ve applied the aforementioned ideas, but how do you know if they’re working to help you create brand awareness? After all, it’s difficult to measure. Some might even say you can’t measure it.
Well, that’s true to a certain extent. But you can look at your activities and metrics. They’ll help you figure out the popularity of your brand.
Are you noticing a spike in your website’s traffic? First, look at your direct traffic numbers, where someone intentionally types in your URL. If someone’s doing this, it means they knew about your brand enough to do so. So they didn’t just happen to discover your brand via a general web search. Also, look at your overall site traffic. You could associate an increase with stronger brand awareness.
Note: If you’re sponsoring an event, put a QR code on any promotional items (posters, flyers, signage, etc.). This will help keep track of where some of your traffic is coming from.
If you’re seeing an increase in social followers, likes, retweets, comments, etc., it’s a reflection of how many people are familiar with your brand and seeking to communicate with you in some manner. That’s a sure sign your popularity is on the rise. Again, you could associate this increase with some of your efforts to create brand awareness.
Set Up Google Alerts
These alerts are a great way to monitor how people are talking about or reporting on your brand online. The more your brand grows, the more you’ll see mentions beyond your own website content.
Listen to Your Social Channels
Social media management tools allow you to monitor organic engagements and mentions. Who’s talking about you? Who’s using your hashtags? The more that people are talking about your brand, the more brand awareness you have.
Send Brand Awareness Surveys
If you want to find out what your customers and audience know and/or think about your brand, just ask them. Post a link to a survey via social media or send survey questions directly in an email. Provide an incentive to answer the questions and you’ll get a higher number of responses.
Create Brand Awareness with Brand Management Software
Because you understand the value of brand awareness, you also recognize the importance of brand compliance and consistency. That’s where brand management software comes in. It allows you to increase the effectiveness and productivity of your marketing efforts. You want to increase brand awareness, but you also need to maintain brand compliance and empower your local marketers to develop their own marketing materials within brand standards. Brand management software can help.
BlueSky ETO develops brand management software that’s built specifically for your brand. That’s what the ETO stands for. It’s engineered to order just for you, no matter how big or small your business. Let’s start with a free brand management consultation. Contact us today and let’s talk about your brand’s needs.
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