A complete guide to brand awareness
Understand the basics of brand awareness, why it’s important, how to measure it, and ways it can help companies of all sizes grow their businesses.
What is brand awareness?
Ever wonder why you recognize, remember, and have an association with a company, even if you don’t use their products? It’s because they have strong brand awareness, which means consumers are familiar with—or, aware of—their brands.
A business’s brand is much more than just a logo or a tagline. It’s a combination of what products they sell, how they tell their story, their aesthetic, the customer experience they deliver, what the company stands for, and more.
As an example, think about your best friend. The first time you met that person, they made an initial impression on you. Additional interactions with that person informed your feelings about them over time. And based on that, you’ve developed a sense of who they are and what they stand for. In your mind, your best friend has a brand. It’s formed through the combination of all your experiences with them.
“Trust in friendships is built, in large part, on knowing what to expect from a person,” according to a 2019 report from Deloitte.1 “The same is true when people connect with brands. Customers expect a consistent, predictable, memorable experience in every moment, from online engagements to in-store conversations with sales reps.”
A customer’s perception of a brand is based on a range of inputs over time. Companies build brands by delivering a consistent message and experience across touch points. That consistency, that repetition of messaging and experience, is fundamental to making your brand memorable, which is key to building brand awareness.
Ultimately, awareness represents the beginning of a consumer’s interest in a product or service. It is the first step on the path to purchase, and the starting point of their relationship with a brand.
Why is building brand awareness important?
Brand awareness helps your brand become top of mind with potential customers when they begin to consider purchase decisions. After all, a strong brand is important, but to grow your business, you need consumers to know about it.
Though the purchase journey is not linear, the traditional marketing funnel still provides a useful way to visualize it, and to demonstrate the importance of awareness.
Awareness is at the very top of the funnel, where there are consumers who may be interested in learning more about your products. Here, a brand that can grab customers’ attention with a positive experience will help raise awareness and possibly inspire them to seek more information.
When customers begin to seek information, they enter the next phase of the funnel—consideration: they are considering making a purchase. Their intent to purchase has increased, based on the inspiration they’ve received at the awareness level. Those who are compelled further, through additional information, then enter the conversion phase, when they’ll look to make a purchase.
Throughout the process, your potential customers are narrowing down their options. Companies that already have brand awareness with customers are ahead of the curve, because they don’t have to explain who they are and what makes them different. Essentially, they’ve already introduced themselves, so they can focus on delivering more specific information that is relevant to a potential buyer’s purchase decision.
Let’s say you just heard about a cutting-edge new television that piqued your interest. And let’s say that two companies are selling the same TV at a similar price – the first is a company you know nothing about, and the other is a company with strong brand awareness. Even if you’ve never purchased a product from the second company, its brand awareness is a strength that lends credibility to its product. And that’s why building brand awareness is so important.
Everyone’s attention is limited. With countless brands vying for the same consumers’ attention, it is useful to be the first brand they think of when considering a product in your category. Big brands know this, and that’s why we know them. It’s no coincidence that many consumers have existing associations between these brands and what they offer. And it’s no mistake that these well-known brands have long invested in increasing awareness.
How do companies increase brand awareness?
Companies use a range of techniques to increase awareness for their brands, such as promotions, social media, influencer programs, and most notably—brand advertising.
As humans, we have always organized, processed, and communicated our experiences through storytelling, and brands do the same thing. As such, brand advertising is one of the most relied-upon methods to communicate their stories widely, build brand awareness, and gain customers.
We’ve all seen countless brand ads. Some we remember, and many, we do not. Still, the intended purpose of each advertisement, whether it’s a handwritten flier under your windshield wiper or a mobile-optimized rich media ad, is to deliver an impression. These impressions raise our awareness.
In the past, brand advertising on a large scale was something only available to big companies with big television budgets. But that is no longer the case.
Take the company Osmo, which makes hands-on learning games. When they entered the crowded STEM toy space, they knew they had to increase brand awareness among an audience of parents and educators. To do that, they didn’t need a Super Bowl commercial-sized budget. They sold products on Amazon, and they began working with Amazon Advertising to help increase brand visibility and drive discovery with potential customers.