What does brand awareness mean to you? If you are a small business owner, this may not be a concept you have given much thought to.
When you are busy developing your products, carrying out services or just doing the mundane daily tasks associated with running a business, thinking strategically about how to increase your brand awareness may not be at the top of your list!
But once you understand the benefits associated with getting your brand ‘top of mind’ among your target market, you may decide to rethink the role brand awareness can have for your business.
What is Brand Awareness Exactly?
Brand awareness is simply how aware consumers (and in particular, your target market) are with your products or services. An official definition according to Google is as follows:
The extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.
Particularly in highly competitive industries or niches, having positive brand awareness can give you a significant competitive edge; for instance, when standing in the cereal aisle, would you be more likely to buy Cheerios or ‘Tasty O’s’? All things being equal (or nearly equal…for instance, a similar price point), it’s likely you would choose the brand you’re familiar with.
In fact, research seems to confirm this. An interesting study was carried out that confirmed, among other things, one important finding: that brand awareness is important for consumers making new decisions (for instance, which brand to buy when they’ve never bought anything before in that product category).
Some other benefits of increased (positive) brand awareness may include:
- Increased customer loyalty
- Increased word of mouth marketing
- Keeping your brand top of mind
- Building your brand equity
- Increased sales (although it can be difficulty to accurately track and measure the ROI of brand awareness efforts)
What are Brand Awareness Campaigns, and How Can You Use Them?
There are many different ways businesses can increase awareness around their brand. One of the most common methods is simply through the use of advertising; this can be done through outbound methods like TV or magazine ads, or through inbound methods like social media or email marketing.
Another method big brands often use to increase product or brand awareness is to hold live, in-person events where online influencers can experience their product firsthand, and spread the word to their fans and followers.
I recently had the great pleasure of being invited to take part in an event hosted by Nokia. The company invited a number of social media and blogging pros to come to Miami, see the local sites and try out the Nokia Lumia firsthand.
Here are a few photos from the event (and check out the Storify I created for the event to see more pictures!)
A campaign such as the Nokia Lumia event is often carried out on the assumption or hope that the following will take place:
- Key influencers experience the product firsthand (and potentially even become brand advocates).
- They share their experience with their fans and followers through their blog and social media posts using text, photos and videos. Usually product and event hashtags are used; for this event, we used #NokiaUS, #Lumia, #LumiaSol, etc.
- The followers of these influencers decide to try out the product for themselves, and potentially spread the word about the product.
- Even those who don’t immediately buy the product have at least had the opportunity to hear the brand name, and begin to form positive associations around it; either because of what they’ve heard about the product, or because of whom they’ve heard it from.
Keep in mind that while live events like the Nokia one may not be within the budget or reach of small businesses, there are other ways you can foster awareness around your brand:
- Having an active presence on social media
- Sponsoring local events
- Taking out display ads through Google AdWords, Facebook, website banner ads, etc.
- Using outbound marketing methods like newspaper, radio or billboard ads
- Renting a booth at an industry tradeshow
- Proving yourself as an industry leader through regular, thoughtful posts on your blog
As your target market begins to become more familiar with your brand, you’ll start to experience some of the benefits outlined above: increased customer loyalty, brand equity, and ultimately, increased sales.
You may also be interested in How Do I Establish a Personal Brand? and 25 Ways to Use Facebook to Brand and Build Your Business.
Have you ever launched a marketing campaign with the explicit goal of building brand awareness? What did you do exactly, and what were the results? Share with us below! (and link to your campaign, if possible!)