As a brand, you want people to know and trust you. When people know and trust you, they support you.
No matter where you are in your upward trajectory, you likely have an ultimate goal: becoming a household name, at least among the members of your target audience.
It’s an aim requiring strategy and persistence, but it’s certainly achievable. And it starts with brand awareness.
Brand awareness 101
On the surface, the concept of brand awareness seems relatively straightforward. You’re on the Liquid Agency website right now—ta-da! So you’re aware of our brand. Right? Well, not exactly.
In reality, it’s not so simple. There’s a marked difference between knowing of a brand and having brand awareness and familiarity.
The former is the passive option. It’s the bare minimum. You probably know the names of hundreds of brands, and you might even be able to name some of their hero products. But what do you really know about these companies? What’s their origin story, their philosophy, their personality?
Brand awareness aims to answer these questions before a consumer even asks them. That’s because brand awareness is about more than knowledge. It’s understanding; it’s trust. It’s the in-tune resonance of core belief systems and values shared by brands and people. Beyond the facade of logos and catchy slogans, these authentic connections are what turn customers into brand believers.
In short, brand awareness is the foundation of the brand-consumer relationship. And in a world full of billions of brands, it’s everything.
The basics of a brand awareness campaign
If brand awareness is the end goal, then a brand awareness campaign is the means. These comprehensive campaigns look to push your brand into the spotlight, confronting potential leads and existing customers alike.
Every brand awareness campaign begins with your brand foundation. After all, you need to know yourself before you can let other people in. A strong brand foundation includes:
- Brand strategy platform—The reference guide that defines your vision, voice, values, messaging and aesthetics, helping maintain consistency across your campaign and all other engagements
- Brand identity—Who you are
- Brand messaging and activation—How you communicate that identity to form authentic relationships
While we could write page after page about building these brand essentials (and we have—check it out), we’ll leave it at this: You’ll need to build your brand strategy platform before your brand awareness campaign begins.
From there, you’ll create assets that you’ll spread across multiple channels to promote awareness. The most important of these channels is paid media in all its forms:
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Out-of-home ads
- Branded content
- Display ads
Why rely on paid media? Well, if you’ve spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on a brand video or a set of bold new visuals, you want eyes on it. And the unfortunate reality is that more eyes come from paid strategies than anywhere else. However, the upside is that paid media gives you more control over who you target with your messaging. And that could be anyone, because…
Brand awareness doesn’t always happen in a straight line.
Considering that it’s impossible to buy something if you don’t know it exists, you might assume that all customer journeys start at awareness and end at buy-in. But the customer journey map you see in business textbooks is oversimplified.
Think of all the outlying cases where a user’s experience doesn’t start with a purchase. What about when someone receives your product as a gift? Or borrows a friend’s subscription?
In these cases—and others like them—product usage precedes brand awareness. Does that mean the chance to build awareness is lost? Absolutely not; it simply looks different.
So, as you build out a brand awareness campaign, don’t think of it as a funnel with entrance and exit points. Instead, think of it as a ring: no matter when and where a consumer joins your ecosystem, there’s always a way to make them more aware of your brand.
The value brand awareness brings to brand building
Why put in all this effort to promote brand awareness in an existing client? If you’re already on their radar—and they’re on yours—why not focus your attention on a cold audience?
Don’t get us wrong—a brand awareness campaign should target untapped markets. But it should also hone in on the tapped ones. There’s value in instilling brand awareness in everyone, from the first-timer to the faithful buyer.
Let’s dive into some of the details. Here’s why brand awareness matters for brands of every shape and size.
Brand awareness leads to brand trust.
Would you rather buy from a brand you’ve never heard of? Or one you see every day? Unless you’re feeling lucky, you probably favor the latter. And there’s a reason for that—familiarity fosters trust, and trust leads to purchasing.
A brand awareness campaign builds trust in two ways:
- It makes more people aware of your brand.
- It makes people more aware of your brand.
In other words, a smart campaign about who you are combines the frequent exposure that breeds familiarity with the transparency that cultivates trust. It’s quality and quantity.
Brand awareness makes your brand the obvious choice.
The merit of recognition through brand awareness is more than a marketing hunch. It’s a time-honored concept that leans on a well-studied but oft-misunderstood psychological strategy called heuristics.
If you’re not familiar with heuristics, here’s a quick crash course:
- Heuristics are “mental shortcuts” that humans use to make decisions quickly.
- These shortcuts rely on myriad inputs, such as previous experiences, intuition and emotion.
- In marketing, you can lean on heuristic models to convince consumers to choose you.
The main heuristic model that brand awareness campaigns play with is called the recognition heuristic. The more aware someone is of your brand, the more it becomes familiar—and the more their mental shortcut wants to choose your brand as the default option.
Brand awareness can improve cash flow.
Last, but certainly not least, brand awareness campaigns are revenue generators.
Simply put, without consumers becoming aware of your brand, you won’t have a brand to build for very long. Brand awareness is often the seed from which brand relationships grow, and those relationships bring in the revenue that sustains your business. Without that foundational first step (awareness, that is), the entire pyramid collapses.
Even as an established brand, you can run a brand awareness campaign to increase revenue. Remember those ideas of transparency and regular exposure? They can convince on-the-fence consumers to buy back in, or remind past customers that your brand exists—and that it’s pretty awesome.
A good brand awareness campaign caters to those who don’t know much about you.
So there you have it. A great brand awareness campaign caters to your entire audience—because it offers something for all stages of the marketing funnel. From paid media planning to asset creation, it’s all part of turning your brand into something people believe in.
We believe that brand awareness is the first, last and middle step of the brand-building process. It’s crucial to the approach we like to call building a brand believer.
Interested in continuing this train of thought? Check out part two in this six-part series on winning market share through brand awareness: Questions to ask when preparing to launch a brand awareness campaign.