Brand awareness is one of the most important tools you can use to grow your business. It might be the deciding factor that helps you elevate your company to the next level. In this article, we’ll review what brand awareness is before going over 20 techniques you can use to maximize brand awareness for your own business.
- What Is Brand Awareness?
- The Importance of Brand Awareness
- 20 Ways to Build Brand Awareness
- 1. Utilize Brand Partnerships
- 2. Use Car Wraps
- 3. Start Some Controversy
- 4. Offer Freemium Content
- 5. Start a Referral Program
- 6. Tell Your Story
- 7. Guest Blogging
- 8. Start a Podcast
- 9. Run Ads on Social Media
- 10. Improve SEO
- 11. Give Away Free Swag
- 12. Make Useful and Shareable Infographics
- 13. Inject Some Personality
- 14. Use PPC Google Ads
- 15. Partner with an Influencer
- 16. Don’t Forget Your Social Media Presence
- 17. Develop and Upkeep Your Voice
- 18. Throw a Social Media Contest
- 19. Retargeting Campaigns
- 20. Be a Local Hero
- How Long Does It Take to Establish Brand Awareness?
- How Can You Measure Brand Awareness?
- General Tip for Building Brand Awareness
What Is Brand Awareness?
Brand awareness is all about customers knowing your name. Strong brand awareness means that your brand is synonymous with the product or service you provide.
For example, when you think of an adhesive bandage, you probably think of Band-Aids. In fact, you probably never called them “adhesive bandages” in your life. This is proof of the power of brand awareness.
This concept isn’t reserved for multi-billion dollar companies. Strong brand awareness works no matter what size your business is. Every multi-billion dollar company grew from much more humble roots and brand awareness played a key part in that growth.
The same principles hold true for your business and it’s essential that you take full advantage.
The Importance of Brand Awareness
Increasing brand awareness is the biggest focus for social marketers. But why? It all goes back to the Band-Aid example. If your brand becomes a household name, that means that people are thinking and talking about you.
It adds a level of familiarity between your customers and you. More importantly, it creates the same level of familiarity with potential customers who are looking for a product that you’re known for. Would you rather buy a used car from a stranger or from a close friend? Assuming it’s the exact same car, you’ll most likely go with the friend.
A strong level of brand awareness makes you a friend to customers and potential customers.
For example, when you think of roast beef sandwiches, odds are you think of Arby’s. This mental association means that you’ll be more likely to buy from Arby’s next time you want a roast beef sandwich — whether or not you’ve bought from them before.
Awareness is the next step after brand recognition. Recognition is what makes people associate a green mermaid logo with Starbucks. Awareness means that when you see the green mermaid, you recall brand or product information, like brand persona or the name of a specific drink or pastry you might want to buy.
It’s essentially a word association game. When customers hear a brand’s name, brand awareness will lead them to immediately think about its defining characteristic. Old Spice? Funny and odd ads. McDonald’s? Fast, cheap, and convenient. Your brand? That’s up to you and your brand awareness efforts.
20 Ways to Build Brand Awareness
If you want to establish strong brand awareness in a global, national, or local market, you’re in the right place — you’re about to learn 20 techniques that will help you build brand awareness.
1. Utilize Brand Partnerships
Brand partnerships are one of the best ways to establish local brand awareness. In this method, you work with a business, school, or sports team to sponsor a local event.
You might provide them with money, equipment, uniforms, or even a venue for their event. In exchange, they’ll announce that the event was sponsored by your business. This can be done using banners, advertisements, or by including your company’s name in the event title.
Some of the most visible brand partnerships involve professional sports teams. Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, is sponsored by Lincoln Financial Group. The team benefits by having a state-of-the-art field and Lincoln gains visibility through the field’s name. The same could be done on a much smaller scale with your business.
2. Use Car Wraps
Car wraps are an old-school method that still holds up to this day. This is when you cover a car with your logo, business information, and name. This could either be your personal vehicle or company car(s). If your wraps look cool enough, you might even attract people who want to wrap their own car with your branding.
Think of wrapped cars as mobile billboards. In traffic, people will gain familiarity with your brand. Just make sure your drivers are doing a good job on the road.
3. Start Some Controversy
This idea doesn’t work for everyone, but controversy is a sure way to attract attention. By churning the rumor mill, you might get some eyes looking at your company to learn more.
Make sure to carefully think out any controversial statements or positions before going public with them — you don’t want to attract negative press and end up losing business.
Consider taking a progressive or cutting-edge stance on a subject within your industry. People love to talk about new and revolutionary ideas, so this can provide you with a quick way to get your brand into the spotlight.
4. Offer Freemium Content
Freemium content is the idea of giving away a portion of your final product for free. For example, Constant Contact has a robust email marketing program, and they offer some freemium content. You can use a trial of their program for free and explore some of its functions.
This helps convert potential customers while building brand awareness. Freemium content should contain your brand name and links to your site in order to drive business.
5. Start a Referral Program
Referral programs are a method that has been getting more traction lately. The idea is that you offer your current customers an incentive to refer new customers. The best method would be to offer a two-way incentive.
The new customer and the former customer both get something free, a nice discount, added perks, or a gift card. Not only does it strengthen your customer base, but it also helps organically grow your business.
Maybe your car wash company offers 50% off a standard wash through a referral program. Current customers and their acquaintances benefit by getting a bargain and you’ll get new customers in exchange.
6. Tell Your Story
Don’t forget that the overarching idea here is creating a strong connection with current and potential customers. You want to come across as a person, not a company.
If you make your brand’s story compelling, people will connect with you. This story can be told on local news, it can be built into your branding, you can make posts about it, or you can take out ads.
At the end of the day, a story about who you are and how your company started will add a level of personalization to your brand.
7. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging works on many different levels. First and foremost, it gets your name out there. People will stumble across your brand in places where they might not expect it. It also gives you an opportunity to link back to your website. This increases traffic, helps with SEO, and further improves your brand awareness.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to produce quality content if you want your blog to be effective. Consider hiring a professional writer to help you with this if you don’t already have a strong background in writing. Make sure that your blog posts don’t present as advertisements. If readers think they’re being sold something, they’re less likely to engage with your post or recommend it to others.
Write something interesting that shows your industry knowledge and proves why you deserve to be the go-to brand for what you offer.
8. Start a Podcast
Another way to get your name out there and show your industry knowledge is through a podcast. This should be at least tangentially connected to your business’ offerings. Again, your content shouldn’t be overly salesy — consumers won’t listen to or recommend your podcast if it doesn’t provide them with useful information or entertainment.
If your money is in the finance field, you might start a podcast explaining the do’s and don’ts about personal finance. This will establish credibility within your field and make listeners more likely to call you first when they need financial services.
If nothing else, a decent podcast will drive traffic to your site, getting more eyes on your business and improving your brand awareness.
9. Run Ads on Social Media
There’s nothing like a good social media ad. These can be targeted to any demographic or location, so take some time to figure out what your strongest demographics are.
Even if social media users don’t interact with your ads, you’re still gaining visibility with potential customers in your area. Repeatedly seeing your name and the product that you provide will strengthen your brand awareness.
10. Improve SEO
SEO is another big focus for businesses, and it can make all the difference when it comes to online brand awareness. SEO stands for search engine optimization. The idea is that you can learn how prominent search engines work and use legitimate naming and keyword tactics to help your website show up in searches.
Many customers primarily use Google when they’re searching for a product or service, so it’s best to focus on optimizing for Google above other search engines. In an increasingly online world, SEO is often what determines the success — or failure — of modern brands.
11. Give Away Free Swag
People love free stuff. By giving away small free items with your name and details on them, you’ll gain goodwill with potential clients while increasing their exposure to your brand.
Examples of free swag could be t-shirts, koozies, keychains, frisbees, pens — anything that people might use that doesn’t cost you a lot of money. When they use your pen to write something, they will remember your name. Subconsciously or not, they’ll become more familiar with your brand.
12. Make Useful and Shareable Infographics
Another way to build brand awareness is to create free, viral content. If you put together a useful infographic that’s shareable, you can get a lot of attention.
This should be an idea that’s industry-specific. For example, you can explain how landfills are killing sea otters. Your company sells biodegradable cutlery and plates, so customers will reduce the harm done to sea otters if they choose you.
By doing the research and professionally putting it together, you’ll present yourself as an industry leader. People will look to you for more information. People will also gain familiarity with your brand name after seeing your infographic shared.
The beauty of this is that people will naturally share the infographic if the information pertains to them and is interesting. You create a viral marketing campaign simply by knowing your industry and presenting the information correctly. Don’t forget a Call to Action on the document that tells people to visit your site to learn more.
13. Inject Some Personality
Old Spice is an incredible example of injecting personality into marketing. Their whole brand is built around being a personable, humorous deodorant company.
You can use the same tactic for your brand. Add a little bit of humor, personality, and empathy to your brand. This goes back to the idea of making your company seem like a person, not a business.
If humor doesn’t come naturally, take some time to decide what traits best fit your brand and create a persona that reflects that. Don’t be afraid to take input from colleagues or family — they might bring up a marketable angle that you’ve missed.
14. Use PPC Google Ads
Since you understand how important Google is to a prospective customer, you should also know that Google Ads can be a powerful tool. These ads are Pay Per Click (PPC). You pay a certain amount of money per person that clicks your ad.
The ad will direct the traffic to your site. The beauty of these ads is that you don’t have to put together an incredible SEO plan or execute months’ worth of work. You can pay to have your link show up at the top of the list depending on what the customer searches.
However, you should still make sure that your ad is attractive and representative of your products or services — using deceptive or badly designed ads will hurt your brand image and decrease sales in the long run.
15. Partner with an Influencer
Some people make their living by being popular on social media. They’re called influencers and they’re always open to new business opportunities. This is good news for your company.
You can partner with an influencer in a couple of ways, depending on your business. One option is to pay them to give an honest review of your product.
You can also pay them to create random content about something related to your brand but not explicitly about your brand. They will tag you in their post, which drives traffic to your page and brand.
Just be sure to pick an influencer that matches the demographic that you’re targeting. Most influencers build their fame from a certain topic, industry, or area of thought.
16. Don’t Forget Your Social Media Presence
The idea of focusing on your social media presence can’t be stressed enough. Social media is completely free to use, and tons of people are using it non-stop every day. Free platforms like Facebook offer a lot of ways for your business to take off.
Pay attention to successful business accounts in your niche — while it’s essential to establish your own identity, it’s still helpful to see what your target demographic responds well to.
Make a concerted effort to engage with your customers. If you respond to their comments on your posts, you’ll let them know that you value their opinions. This will increase customer loyalty and strengthen your reputation.
17. Develop and Upkeep Your Voice
Throughout all of these techniques, you want to make sure that you keep your brand’s voice alive. The first part of this formula is to make sure you have a brand voice.
This is the way that you explain things, talk to people, and even sell your product. Using a different voice for every social media page will hint that you’re not being genuine. Alternatively, if you do a good job of upkeeping your voice, people will think that your posts are coming from a regular person, not a faceless company.
18. Throw a Social Media Contest
Why not throw a social media contest? By using special hashtags and looking for specific content, you’ll drive your brand awareness up.
For example, a dog food company might offer a $100 prize to whoever posts the most-liked picture of their dog with a hashtag of the company’s choosing. It’s essential that any contests you host be related to the product or service you provide. This will ensure that any entrants or spectators are potential customers.
If the contest goes well, you’ll get a huge following and a ton of clicks to your page. These clicks can translate to sales if you make it easy to find and purchase your products from your social media page. At the very least, you’ll walk away with improved brand awareness.
19. Retargeting Campaigns
The function of a retargeting campaign is to show an ad to someone who visited your site but didn’t buy anything. When they see your site, they have cookies stored on their computer. You can use this data to send them a follow-up ad on a web page they randomly visit in the future.
These ads could pop up as the customer is shopping somewhere, reading an article online, or shopping with your competitor.
This is an effective way to ensure that potential customers see your advertising over and over again. This increases brand awareness, increasing the probability of future sales.
20. Be a Local Hero
If your business targets local customers, then be a local hero. If you’re spotted shoveling snow for a neighbor, walking someone across the street, or helping someone in need, you become a local hero.
Better yet, you might decide to make a larger effort to help your community and involve the press. If you live in an area with cold winters, you might buy and distribute winter clothing. Local news channels or papers will likely be interested in covering such an event, which will strengthen your reputation and provide brand exposure at the same time.
How Long Does It Take to Establish Brand Awareness?
Establishing brand awareness takes time. The exact timeframe will vary dramatically depending on your company, your goals, and the amount of effort you put in.
The bottom line is that you need to be consistent and patient during this process. Even if you don’t see any immediate progress, don’t get discouraged. It could be days, weeks, months, or years before you have strong brand awareness.
If you’re impatient with your technique, it will probably show to customers. Taking a measured and controlled approach to building brand awareness is just as important as which method you choose.
How Can You Measure Brand Awareness?
Now that you’re rolling out a brand awareness campaign, how are you supposed to keep tabs on it? Understanding how successful your methods are will help you refine, tweak, and change your tactics.
Not to worry — there are a lot of different ways to measure your efforts.
Social listening has to do with skimming through social media posts. As people tag your brand, use your hashtag, and mention your name — you’ll know how well your brand awareness ideas are working.
There are automated programs to do this for you, but you can always do it manually. Search for your hashtags and company’s name. If you can, keep a log of how many mentions you get on a weekly basis.
If the number immediately shoots up after using a brand awareness tip, that’s a good indication that it’s working.
Site Traffic Data
Your website keeps information about how many people visited it. This is raw data telling you how many people clicked on your website. It doesn’t tell you why they visited or where they came from.
This data will give you an overall idea of how your new campaign is going, but you won’t get much immediate insight beyond that.
That said, this is still a tangible number that you can work with. You should be regularly checking in so you understand what a typical day looks like in terms of site traffic. If your visits go up by 50% after a sponsored event, you’ll know the event was successful.
Direct traffic is a little different. This is the result of someone actually typing in your website address, not clicking a link.
This will tell you how many visitors were aware of you to the point that they directly typed in your URL. This could be the result of any number of brand awareness techniques that urge viewers to visit your site.
While it’s impossible to determine the exact channel that leads to direct traffic, this metric is still an important one to track, as it indicates a high level of brand awareness.
Engagement on Social Media
Unlike social listening, engagement on social media is direct interaction with your brand. This could refer to reposts, direct messages, followers, comments, retweets, likes, and mentions of your username.
This is another place where you can use an app or program to automatically track your engagement. If you go to the “mentions” tab on your social media account, you’ll see these engagements.
This tells you how many customers know your brand to the level that they want to interact with you.
Google Alert and Manual Searches
Google Alert and manual searches take the idea of social media interaction to the web. You can set up a Google Alert that tells you when your brand is discussed on different websites.
You can also do manual searches for your company’s name, product, or keywords that you targeted. It will tell you how well your methods are working and how many people are talking about you.
Nothing beats a brand identity survey when it comes to feedback on your brand awareness. You can ask people directly what brought them to your site and why they decided to pick you.
This could be an automatic survey sent to a customer’s email after an initial sale, a pop-up on your website, an email campaign you send direclty to your current customers, or even a quick survey via your social media platform.
Make sure you keep track of the survey data to see what’s working.
General Tip for Building Brand Awareness
As you’re figuring out how to increase brand awareness, keep this general tip in mind: roll out your campaign with a few tactics at a time. As you just learned, there’s no clear-cut way to determine what specific brand awareness tactics are working.
If you roll out 10 tactics on the same day, it’s hard to pinpoint where any positive impact came from — you might even be wasting your time on nine of the tactics. This wasted time can hurt other aspects of your business.
Instead, you should roll them out individually or in small groups of 2 or 3. This will give you a better idea of what to focus on. Be sure to give them enough time to start working before you try the next batch.
At this point, you have plenty of different tactics to try. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so go slow and try different techniques to find out what works best for you and your business. If you have any questions, the expert marketing advisors at Constant Contact can explain these ideas in greater detail.