January 19, 2022

December 13, 2021

8 Tips For Building Brand Awareness

Brand Execution

January 19, 2022

8 Tips For Building Brand Awareness

Brand Execution
Why build brand awareness in the first place?

Gone are the “if you build it, they will come” days. If you have a great business, but no one knows it exists or what makes it different from its competitors, you will have a tough time finding success. This goes for brick and mortar businesses, online companies, consumer packaged goods and just about anything else you can think of. Consumers have more choices than they need, more media thrown at them than they can absorb, and they’re not paying attention to whether or not you “build it.”

That’s why building brand awareness is so important. But before diving into how to build brand awareness or what a brand awareness campaign could include, you should have your brand strategy and brand identity solidified. These will give you the tools you need to make decisions and keep your brand consistent. If you don’t have those in place, check out our previous blogs on brand strategy and brand identity.

Now’s your time to make it count.

Grab these key steps to staying accountable to your brand.
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January 19, 2022

8 Tips For Building Brand Awareness

Brand Execution
Why build brand awareness in the first place?

Gone are the “if you build it, they will come” days. If you have a great business, but no one knows it exists or what makes it different from its competitors, you will have a tough time finding success. This goes for brick and mortar businesses, online companies, consumer packaged goods and just about anything else you can think of. Consumers have more choices than they need, more media thrown at them than they can absorb, and they’re not paying attention to whether or not you “build it.”

That’s why building brand awareness is so important. But before diving into how to build brand awareness or what a brand awareness campaign could include, you should have your brand strategy and brand identity solidified. These will give you the tools you need to make decisions and keep your brand consistent. If you don’t have those in place, check out our previous blogs on brand strategy and brand identity.

What is brand awareness? 

Brand awareness is recognition of your business or organization in the marketplace. It is how your business gets noticed and understood as a brand.

While your primary focus should be on your target audience, others who are not in this target group will also recognize your brand and have an impression of it. Some brands strive to become a household name, which is building brand awareness beyond a target market. While these brands may not convert everyone to become one of their customers, they own a very specific place in the minds of a larger audience. 

For example, think of brands like McDonald’s. Not everyone wants to eat a Big Mac, but all around the world, people recognize the golden arches and can describe the types of food they sell. This was made possible by decades of consistently presenting themselves through words, visuals, product offerings and behaviors. They’re not here to be all things to all people, but by staying focused on the connection between what they’re good at and what their primary audience wants, McDonald’s has grown to be a global brand.

How to use brand strategy to steer brand awareness

For this blog, let’s assume you have a brand strategy and you know what defines your brand. You know your purpose, mission, vision, goals, value proposition, target audience, customer pain points and goals, and much more. 

Use this information to make decisions about how to put your brand to work, internally and externally, to build brand awareness. It starts with training your employees so they can communicate your brand’s value to its customers. Then use it to define where to spend marketing dollars and the message you want to get across. 

How to create the perception you want people to have

You do this through consistent brand execution. Execution, by definition, is putting a plan into action. In branding, this includes crafting a plan for how you’ll bring your brand to life through internal and external actions and communications. This plan should reinforce what your brand stands for in way that people can connect with. Before we get into building awareness through brand execution tactics, let’s dig a little deeper into the concept of brand execution.

The biggest misconception is that brand execution is just a dressed-up way to say “marketing.” While marketing is included in brand execution, the two are not synonymous. Brand execution includes marketing, which is promoting and selling your products. It’s EVERY touchpoint that represents your business or organization (employee training, advertising, website design and development, interior design, packaging and so much more). All of those touchpoints impact the perception your staff and your customers have of your company. The goal is to create consistent experiences that match the impression you want to leave behind in your audience’s mind, regardless of the tactic or vehicle used.  

Why brand awareness matters

People will have an impression of your brand whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. For example, when people think of Volvo, they think safety. When they think of Jeep, they think rugged. It’s up to you to guide the impression you want others to have so you can uniquely stand out in the marketplace. 

Building awareness of your brand strategically and influencing what that impression will be is the reason people will want to continue to spend money with you. When done well, brand awareness leads to business success. (Note: Success is something that you define as a company or organization and is based on goals that are established in your brand strategy. Everything you do to build brand awareness should support those goals. Proactively planning for how to meet them through a brand execution plan can save you time and money, help you connect to your ideal customers more quickly, accomplish your business goals and increase your customer lifetime value.) 

Remember, building brand awareness is both internal and external. Let’s dissect how brand awareness extends to these areas. 

8 tips for building brand awareness

Building internal brand awareness 

Bring your brand to life internally first. Period. It will make external communications much more seamless and your customers’ experiences consistent. By establishing an internal culture, educating your staff on what makes your company unique and sharing the perception you want the world to have, you are laying the foundation to make this happen. Each employee who has a clear vision of the brand also has the opportunity to be an incredible brand ambassador. These are the people creating and conveying the value of your product or service to your customers. 

Using the restaurant industry as an example, we can all relate to how having an inconsistent experience two or three times will cause you stop dining at an establishment. The first time you dine there, the wait staff is attentive, the steak is cooked to perfection and the atmosphere is perfect for date night. The second time you visit, you’re pretty sure the wait staff has forgotten about you and, when your food does come, it’s lukewarm. Meanwhile, the beats on the radio are pumping so loud you can’t even hear your date talk. Do you give that restaurant a third try? Maybe, but not without serious hesitation. 

Those paying for what you offer are more likely to become repeat customers if their experience with your organization (and its people) consistently matches their expectations of what they’re paying for. It starts with helping your staff understand the impression they should be striving to leave behind. 

Internal Brand Awareness Tips


1. Hiring Process / Human Resources

Authentic brands begin with company culture. Working your brand strategy into your hiring process will allow you to hire people who are the right fit for your company based on the brand’s personality traits. Is your brand collaborative, versatile, spirited, empowering? Ensuring the human resources department is utilizing these assets for hiring purposes will help to build your brand from the inside out. 

During the hiring process, succinctly share who the company is, what it stands for and where it’s headed to make sure that aligns with what the applicants are looking for. Can they picture themselves on the same path, supporting that vision? The human resources department should also craft interview questions specific to how the position can further bring the brand to life and discuss what that means for the role and interviewee.  

2. Customer service Approach

Most companies today understand the importance of having strong customer service. If they don’t, Google and Yelp reviews will keep them on their toes. 

Great customer service, not just good customer service, begins by training your employees and setting expectations internally first based on your unique brand strategy and your brand’s personality traits. Doing this will allow you provide consistent service that is unique to the experience you want your customers to have with your company. Consistency will build brand recognition and you will begin to stand out from the competition. It becomes obvious how important this is when considering the previously mentioned restaurant example. 

Customer service is one of the most critical touchpoints to building positive brand awareness. It will happen whether you plan for it or not. A consistent experience, unique to your own brand, with every member of your team will lead to repeat purchases and possibly even promotion of your company to their network of friends, family and colleagues. 

3. Sales efforts

Strategically selling can save you time and quickly connect you to your target audience. Your sales team should know your brand strategy inside and out. That includes your goals, position within the market and unique promise to your customers. Your sales team can pair that information with what they know about the people or businesses that are considered your ideal customer/client. This will help them communicate with sales leads in a way that matches your brand, meets the customer’s needs and identifies how your company can help the sales lead overcome a pain point or get them closer to their own goals. If you can’t show your customer how you’re going meet their needs, consider the sale lost.   

Building external brand awareness 

Once you have laid the foundation internally, it’s time to tackle building external brand awareness. You have your entire team behind you, helping in the effort to build external brand awareness organically. However, you will want to be intentional about where you are putting your time and energy to build awareness through customer-facing channels. 

Where to start

Start with items that bring the most value to your business. These are determined by key performance indicators (KPIs). Work with your company leaders to understand the KPIs they are tracking then create an execution plan through the lens of brand strategy. 

Once you have the top company KPIs outlined, create a yearlong plan with monthly or quarterly check-ins to determine if you are moving the needle. Then, slowly add secondary and tertiary tactics to help with brand awareness. Remember, focus on what adds the most value so you are making an impact in a very doable way with the resources you have.  

Branding is successful when you are able to sell more things to more people for more money. To do that, they need to be aware of your product or service.

External Brand Awareness Tips

 

4. Brand launch/relaunch 

If you are a new business just starting out or if you’re an existing business that has undergone a rebrand, your brand launch/relaunch is a great opportunity to get in front of people to introduce yourself. Consider this your first impression for new or existing customers. We all want to make a great impression and you have a unique opportunity during this time to get their attention and build brand awareness. How you do this should work towards your company KPIs and align with your brand strategy. 

We think of a brand launch/relaunch as a bullseye. If your company is at the center, the new brand should be introduced first to the ring of people closest to you. This includes your internal teams (as mentioned above) before anything is released externally. Once you’ve gotten your internal teams up to speed, loop in members of your most valued customer base. For example, for a nonprofit, this would be communications to those who help keep things moving, such as volunteers and big donors first. Then, it would extend to people who interact with your brand but to a lesser degree than the first tier, such as your patrons. Finally, you announce it to the community at large. Time your communications appropriately for each and choose your communication channels for each based on how they best engage with you. For big donors, social media probably isn’t the channel to choose.    

5. Marketing plan 

The whole of your marketing plan can be considered part of your external brand awareness. Just like everything else, your marketing plan should be informed by your brand strategy. KPIs should be known and items that bring the most value to your organization should be considered first. 

Where you are marketing, who you are marketing to and the message you are conveying will be determined based on the work that has already been done during the strategy phase. Using your budget as a bumper, you can make decisions about the best avenues for getting your message out you ideal customer. Unless you have millions of dollars, it’s impossible to be in front of everyone so stay focused on those who are most likely to pay for what you offer. 

A word of warning: Everyone you talk with will have something to say about where they think you should be marketing. If those offering advice aren’t familiar with your brand strategy, who your primary audience is, what your company’s core values are or your business’s goals, do your own research before making a decision. For example, we recently heard a story of a small floral business owner who was approached by a Pinterest expert. This expert recommended that the business owner pay them to help her floral arrangements have a better presence on Pinterest. Her business would be found and sales would increase, the expert claimed. That sounds great, but what was not taken into account was the fact that her customers weren’t shopping on Pinterest and she didn’t ship her arrangements, so why would she need a national presence on a site that wouldn’t increase her revenue? Instead, that money could have gone towards other marketing efforts what would have built local brand awareness in her small community. Today, that floral shop is no longer in business. 

It’s also a good idea to include some non-traditional tactics in your marketing plan, like guerilla marketing or events that align with your brand strategy to surprise and delight your audience. Service-based companies, such as accounting firms and title companies, may decide to put a larger part of their marketing budget towards relationship building efforts that make sales easier in the future. Be intentional with how you build relationships because these efforts build brand awareness too. Offering a cheap piece of swag might not cut it. 

6. Advertising 

As mentioned in the floral business example, you can throw away a lot of money on advertising if you don’t know where or how you should be spending it. This includes radio, TV, print and digital ads; billboards; direct mail; product placement, and a lot more. Again, where you advertise should be influenced by your brand strategy and the goals you’ve identified. It should also be informed by information about who your target audience is and where you can best reach them. 

Start by brainstorming a list that puts you in front of your audience and aligns with who you are  and what you offer. If you’re an artisan bread maker, it might make sense to consider getting shelf space at a specialty deli and co-sponsoring advertising with them because they’re already working hard to capture the same audience. You save money on advertising because you’re not covering the entire cost, your high-quality product is in good company and your customer’s perception of your brand remains that of an artisan.   

While not considered traditional advertising, if you’re the artisan bread maker (or you offer any sort of packaged goods), your packaging is one of the biggest opportunities you have to represent your brand. It’s likely the first touchpoint a customer will have with your product or company. How are you standing out online or on the shelf against the competition? What makes you the right choice? If they do choose your product, how are you getting people to talk about you so you can build additional customers through word of mouth and grow brand awareness? Rely on your brand strategy to answer these questions and inform the design and messaging on your packaging so you can make it count.(See how Gastro Gnomes Packaging brought their brand to life.)

Once you have your list built out, review it based on what will have the highest value, both in financial return as well as brand reputation, then focus on the top five tactics and do them well. All of this can be traced back to your brand strategy and all of this builds brand awareness. 

7. Website 

For most businesses and organizations, their website is their first touchpoint with a customer or client that allows a business to really show who they are and what they offer. With the Internet in the palm of everyone’s hands, people make their initial decisions about where to eat, where to shop and what company to hire by first going online. It’s how they research who they want to do business with. This remains true for businesses in big and small communities. Why get off the couch and drive across town to “see” if a store has the product and overall vibe I am looking for when I can go online first and find the store that does?  

Your website should be a clear reflection of the idea that you want to craft in people’s minds about who your brand is, why it matters to them and what you specialize in. For example, if one of your brand pillars is “inviting” then your website better include elements that welcome visitors and make it easy and enjoyable to use. Your website should employ your brand identity (see our brand identity blog post for more on those individual elements). It should also be designed in a way that works towards those KPIs that we talked about earlier. If your goal is to recruit employees, is there an obvious place on the website that handles recruiting for you? If your goal is increase sales leads, does it highlight the benefits of doing business with you from your customer’s perspective?  

8. Social media content

Something we hear from a lot of business owners is that they “know (they) should be doing social media.” But they don’t know why or how. Some think that creating a Facebook or Instagram page and occasionally posting to it is enough. But, like the other examples in this post, if you are not doing it strategically it could be a huge waste of time and resources. At worst, it could damage your brand’s reputation if you are not keeping up with it, responding to inquiries and posting fresh, relevant content that works towards your goals.

Keep in mind that social media should feel like a two-way conversation. Are you talking at someone or giving them a story they can connect with that they’ll want to engage back with? Through the lens of your brand, consider the narrative, how that shapes your audience’s view of you and how it’s meeting their needs. 

If you do decide to include social media into your brand awareness plan, know where your audience is and what matters to them. This will help you with the type of information you should be posting. Identify the goals for what you are posting, measure how they are performing and whether they are moving you closer to your brand strategy goals. 

Construct an idea in people’s minds

Every touchpoint that you use to build brand awareness–internal and external–contributes to the greater perception people have about your brand. You can influence this by consistently and strategically executing your plan for brand awareness. If done well, the perception that they have is what you are trying to communicate and over time your sales will increase. 

All touchpoints included in your brand awareness campaign should be backed by brand strategy and planned in execution. They have goals attached to them that can be tracked to assess whether what you’re doing is working to move the needle. If something isn’t working, examine why and consider readjusting based on what you’ve found. 

If you are unsure of how to measure your success or need a hand mapping out how to build brand awareness, give us a call.

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