What is brand awareness?
“Brand Awareness” is a marketing term that describes the level of consumer recognition of a brand by its name. Strong brands with a high level of brand awareness are likely to generate more sales because consumers tend to choose a familiar, trusted brand over an unfamiliar one. So a key part of your marketing strategy will undoubtedly focus on increasing your brand awareness. But how do you do it?
There are many ways to increase brand awareness and it is unlikely that you will choose just one. Choosing a combination of activities that work together can give great results.
Here’s one example however: sponsorship, or in other words, piggy-backing on an already well established and brand.
By partnering with the well known brand of the football club, sponsors increase their exposure to a wider audience. This won’t necessarily directly increase sales however. Why? Because the average football fan probably won’t be in the market for that particular product at the time. When they are however, they’ll recall the brand and be more likely to trust it and therefore buy it.
The optimum goal, of course, would be to increase your brand awareness to such an extent that the generic product is referred to by your brand name alone, e.g. Coke, Hoover etc.
Let’s face it though, sponsoring a football club probably isn’t within the reach of most SMEs, not yet anyway. All our marketing activity helps to increase exposure of our brand, be it advertising, PR, SEO, social media, your website etc. and different activities work well for different businesses. So how do you know what works best for your business? How do you measure it?
Let’s start with an easy one. Ask your customers! This is often done in some form of survey. From simply asking existing customers how they heard about you to asking a randomly selected group if they are familiar with your brand. Doing either will give you an understanding of how people became aware of your brand and how many people recall it. Carefully structured questions will draw out the most useful information that you can use to feed into your marketing strategy. In turn, this will help you to steer your business in the right direction.
2. Online Analytics
Over the last twenty or so years, analysing your website traffic to reveal insights about visitors’ experiences when visiting your website – for example via a search, a bookmark or a clicked link – has been possible. It will tell you if it was a direct or random landing and, over time, you can track changes to measure brand awareness. Google Analytics, a popular tool to measure all your website statistics, unfortunately no longer provides keyword data – ie. the words people typed into Google in order to reach your website. There are other options however and plenty that directly link to your official online platforms. Tools like Alerts and Keyword Planner. However the results are only useful if they mention your specific brand name.
3. Social Listening
In 2020 one of the easiest ways to measure brand awareness is through social listening, i.e. listening to online conversations. We can look for where (and when) people are talking about our brand across social media and the web. You can count hashtags and brand mentions in organic conversations and this has the added advantage of avoiding response bias often found in survey data. This is where people may not give honest, natural answers because of the way questions are formatted.
Social listening can tell you the number of times your brand is mentioned – and how many times it is not – outside of your official owned channels. An analysis by Brandwatch found that 96% of conversations are outside official channels, suggesting that relying on inbuilt analytic platforms could be significantly misleading.
It is also important to understand the difference between ‘reach’ and ‘engagement’. The reach of a conversation mentioning your brand is the potential number of people that these mentions will be seen by. The number of followers of each author could be huge, so potentially the increase in brand awareness is huge. But if people aren’t actually engaging, i.e. reading, watching or listening to the content rather than scrolling past it, then does it count?
Brand awareness is crucial because increasing the number of consumers that can recall your brand is integral to success. Measuring it is important, though not always straightforward. Sometimes at best, it gives you a good indication. The data from these indicators should however provide enough useful information to feed back into your marketing strategy. In turn, this will help you to choose the best way forward with your marketing activities.
And, who knows, one day your brand could be seen running around the pitch at Wembley!