Brand awareness reflects the degree to which customers or potential customers can recognize or recall a brand and correctly associate that brand with a specific product or service. Creating brand awareness is one of the key components in promoting a product or service.
In his article “The Brand Formula”, entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin explains why brand awareness is important and presents a simple formula for measuring brand awareness:
What’s a brand? I think it is the product of two things:
[Prediction of what to expect] times [emotional power of that expectation].
If I encounter a brand and I don’t know what it means or does, it has zero power. If I have an expectation of what an organization will do for me, but I don’t care about that, no power.
Godin goes on to write that he believes building a valuable brand involves building “the most predictable, emotional experience you can among those that care about you.”
Here are seven ways to help you increase the brand awareness of your company:
1. Provide Exceptional Service
It seems obvious: treat your customers well, and they’ll keep coming back. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen from high-profile customer service disasters such as United Airlines’ “dragged off of a plane” fiasco or Comcast’s disastrously viral “recorded phone call,” great service isn’t a given.
Companies like Zappos, Trader Joes, and Wegmans are renowned for their customer service. A simple search online turns up many stories of how these companies go above and beyond expectations to really please their customers.
There’s a good reason those companies go out of their way to make customers happy. Happy customers tell their friends and colleagues about their great experiences.
Such testimonials are powerful. According to a recent survey by Harris Poll, over 80% of Americans seek recommendations from family and friends before making a purchase of any kind. Attaching positive experiences to your brand with exceptional service is an invaluable form of marketing.
StoreStream Metric’s Adrian Weidmann confirms this:
The two most challenging, elusive and yet most effective operational ‘home runs’ for your brand are the atmosphere and courteous staff.
2. Be real
Exceptional customer service has to include the idea that your company strives to be as authentic as possible. We’re not talking about farm-to-table dining and mason jars, though. Remind your customers that there are real people behind the brand. After all, customer service impacts the degree to which customers and prospects trust your brand.
Avoid canned responses and fill-in-the-blank emails, or if you must, make sure they speak in a personable, friendly voice. Admit fault when you can, and accept responsibility decisively and with humility. In general, avoid corporate speak, banish marketing “happy talk,” and above all, rewrite jargon with a vengeance.
Don’t make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve they are far more informed, aware, socially connected – and empowered – crowd than ever before with high standards… and boy do they have attitude. This is THEIR area too, and they can sniff out a scam at 10 paces.
Customers remember when they’re treated with respect and dignity, and being genuine goes a long way to building those connections.
3. Be Consistent
It’s difficult to build brand awareness when your brand is inconsistently designed or applied. Spend some time to do a complete brand audit. Go over the design standards you already have and consider building a style guide.
Work with designers (we have hundreds of thousands here at crowdSPRING, from nearly every country in the world) to refine any existing branding and fix what’s missing or in conflict. Brand consistency is about building a dependable, reliable experience; that stability helps customers form stronger connections, which raises awareness.
4. Go offline, hold an event, or a web seminar
The cliché that “sharing is caring” holds true for raising brand awareness as well. Use your company’s connections to bring interesting speakers in for a special event, or run workshops related to your product or service. The important thing is to provide some kind of real value to your customers. Inspire them, educate them, or give them food for thought and they’ll associate that experience with your brand.
At no cost, Google provides hundreds of hours of lectures and talks hosted by Google. Their “Talks at Google” series’ tagline is “where great minds meet.” By giving away these videos they reaffirm their key objective, which is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
5. Forge partnerships with other brands
Finding similar (or complementary) brands to partner with is an effective way to build your business and create more brand awareness. It can help introduce your business to a new audience and strengthen your brand’s perception with your existing customers. A strong partnership means that the success of one brand can benefit the other.
Co-branding allows brands to combine their best elements and empower their similar market statement, creating a kind of ‘power couple’ that proves that the whole is greater than a sum of its parts.
Look for opportunities where partnerships are a natural extension of your business. The partnership between Pottery Barn and Benhamin Moore paint is a good example.
Pottery Barn and Benjamin Moore formed a partnership in the early 2000s after Pottery Barn realized they were getting a lot of questions about the colors used in their catalogs. The two companies collaborated on an exclusive line of paints and colors and then featured an easy way for customers to select paint colors on the Pottery Barn website. This tool still exists today, although Sherwin-Williams now provides the other side of the partnership.
6. Be present on social media
It’s a given now that companies and organizations need to be on social media. But being somewhere and actually doing something useful are different beasts, and using your social media presence wisely is a key element of raising brand awareness.
Not sure where to start? Social media is a great place to provide great customer service and humanize your brand at the same time. Let your customer service team manage your social media accounts and your audience will get to see real customers with real problems get the help they need.
Link to content you’ve created (such as blog posts or videos) and let your social media account become a “back channel” that lets people converse directly with you in real time. Ensuring that your social media presence is a two-way street and taking the time to leverage social media’s network effect is key. Shopify talks about using the 70/20/10 rule when posting to social media:
Essentially [the 70/2010 rule] is adding value and brand building 70% of the time, sharing others posts and ideas 20% of the time, and promoting you or your business only 10%. By doing this you begin to establish yourself as a thought leader, and naturally attract people back to your brand, because you’re giving them a reason to keep coming back.
Pampers uses social media as both a marketing tool for its products and as a way to build a community of parents (and soon-to-be parents) to exchange stories, ideas, and tips. Pampers North American brand manager Matt Griffith noted that this helps establish strong ties with customers.
When we can build these deep relationships with mom and really celebrate what’s important to her, we get a more meaningful relationship with her and that’s ultimately what she’s looking for when she’s making her choices.
7. Let people see behind the curtain
Another effective way to use social media is to give your audience a peek behind the scenes (aka BTS), to show them how your company works and plays.
According to Maja Jaredic, Marketing Director at Flight Media, BTS content makes your brand more human:
There is lots of value in BTS content. It Humanizes your company; Shows that you have fun; Reveals your love for your team; It shows you make mistakes, but you also laugh and live. And in order to build relationship and trust, this kind of content is a necessity.
On their Instagram feed, Modern Salon doesn’t feature just the end results of hairstyles or makeovers, they also show behind the scenes in the salon itself. Followers get to see the process as stylists go from zero to completion. Getting to see what really happens helps customers know what to expect while being both inspirational and aspirational.
Ultimately, brand awareness is about ensuring your customers are not just thinking about you, but also thinking about you in a positive, engaging way. Grow that awareness by being authentic, providing exceptional customer service, engaging with social media, inviting your audience to workshops and seminars, and finding like-minded brands to form partnerships with.
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