What exactly is brand awareness? It can be defined as how recognizable a brand is to a customer.
It’s a vital part of driving purchases because people must be aware of what differentiates your brand’s products or services from competitors’ products or services. People won’t reliably purchase from you if they aren’t aware of how you stand out from the crowd!
Google is a legend in the world of brand awareness because it’s a household name that everyone recognizes and uses in casual conversation. After all, when you want to find an answer online, you would probably say that you’re going to “Google it.”
But you don’t have to reach the extremes of Google to boost your brand awareness. People don’t even have to remember your name.
As long as they remember your packaging, slogans, colors, or something else unique about you, brand awareness has happened.
Any brand, large or small, can follow these 11 easy tips to increase brand awareness.
1. Get People Talking About You!
Brand awareness isn’t just developed through your brand’s own marketing plan.
Word-of-mouth—when people share your brand with their friends, family, and peers— is just as important to building brand awareness. The more people talk about you in a positive way, the more brand awareness you have on your side.
And people who become aware of your brand through their friends and peers are more likely to purchase from you in the long run. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends more than any other form of advertising.
Word-of-mouth ties into, and magnifies, nearly all of the other ways we’ll go over to build brand awareness. That’s why it tops our list. So, make sure to get people talking about you!
2. Share Your Authentic Story
When you share authentic, memorable stories about your brand, it’s easier for people to remember your brand—and share your brand with others.
If you started your brand (or created one of your flagship products) to solve a specific problem, or to meet a need that no one else meets, make sure that you tell that story because it lends itself well to sharing.
Even if you don’t fit into this category, there are still plenty of opportunities to tell an intriguing story. You could tell your “signature story” — a compelling true narrative that communicates your brand’s mission and values, how and why they developed, and how you live up to them.
Also, consider talking about the relationships you build with your customers. Whichever option you choose, make sure to use your brand’s unique voice and tone. Check out an example from REI.
Remember that the stories of your customers, and their experiences with you, are just as important to the overall story of your brand. So, tell their stories on your blog, through videos, or on a dedicated story page. Or, better yet, have them tell their stories in their own words!
3. Use Social Media
Social media’s where your customers are spending the bulk of their free time, so it’s smart to use social as an advertising venue. According to Statista, people spent an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes on social media each day in 2018!
People tune out traditional ads, though, so you’ll need to be creative for them to really remember you when they see you on social. The trick is to make your posts feel organic—right at home with what individuals are posting and searching for.
Wendy’s is a master of leveraging social media for brand awareness. Their iconic tweets have gone viral several times! Even though you can’t guarantee that your posts will have the same virality, you can take cues from Wendy’s to ensure that they will make an impact.
Delivering what the audience wants, on a platform, they frequent regularly: Wendy’s knows their audience appreciates humor and wants to be entertained. So, they keep that central in all the social media they create.
Reach your own target audience on the platforms they frequent most—trying to reach every network will result in wasted time, and put your message in front of eyes that don’t necessarily match your target.
And know what your audience wants from your content. Do they want to be entertained, inspired, educated, or something else?
Staying true to your tone: From their roasts (comebacks to others’ tweets) to memes, to playlists, to a “Feast of Legends” RPG with loads of inside references, Wendy’s always injects wit and branded humor into every post (and linked content piece) they make. You don’t have to be witty like Wendy’s, but make sure you know your brand voice and stick to it.
Playing off of what’s trending: Wendy’s consistently nails this as well. For example, they made a branded series of Super Mario Maker 2 levels, and promoted them through this tweet, to go along with the buzz surrounding the Nintendo Switch game.
Tying into trending movies, TV/streaming shows, memes, and news developments is a great strategy to adopt (as long as your posts or the topics aren’t controversial) And even if your brand’s voice is more serious or educational, you can still plan posts covering trends within your industry.
4. Write Posts on Your Blog and Others’ Blogs
Writing informative blog posts on topics in your brand’s area of focus is a great way to boost your authority in potential customers’ eyes, and make sure they remember you.
Choose topics that will help your potential customers, and answer the niche questions that they’re asking. If someone stands to benefit from your brand, and you’ve helped them out with your content, it will be hard for them to forget you—they’ll likely come back to you when they’re ready to purchase.
Don’t limit the blogging to your own site, though. You’ll have a much larger reach if you also write for other websites. Consider creating a LinkedIn or Medium account for your blogging, as large audiences already frequent these sites.
Also, submit high-quality guest posts to other websites that fit your niche, but don’t compete against you directly. This is an awesome way to get your brand in front of a new, relevant audience. Be sure to include an author bio with a link to your brand’s website, and (if possible) a brief description of your brand.
5. Use SEO Carefully
SEO is vital to building brand awareness. After all, when your brand ranks highly on Google, it looks more authoritative than others, and people naturally learn about it before they investigate lower-ranking competitors.
And SEO is also an affordable choice. According to a survey, 59% of marketers believe that SEO is one of the most cost-effective content types for building brand awareness.
So, be sure to optimize your website content. You’ll want to generate a list of keywords closely related to your brand, and that your audience is searching for, and then create pages designed to rank highly for these keywords.
This includes both general keywords that describe your product or service categories and specific keywords that pose questions related to your niche (or are more focused on your product type).
Research your competition on Google so you’ll know what you’ll need to do to fight for a relevant ranking. You’ll often find that the longer, more specific keywords have low competition. These long-tail keywords draw in more people who could stand to benefit from your brand, even though they aren’t searched for as often, as this graphic from SEMrush shows.
6. Create Memorable Visual Content
Did you know that people remember about 50% of what they see, but only between 10-20% of what they read or hear? These statistics, reported by McKnight Kurland, show that text-based content isn’t always enough to increase brand awareness. So, be sure to create compelling branded images and videos. If you want to communicate statistics or useful information, consider using an infographic or another eye-catching image. Check out the infographic below from visual.ly for more compelling statistics on infographics’ power!
You could also convert content from a previous blog post into a short video. These types of content are easily shared, so they’ll help boost your brand awareness relatively quickly.
7. Give Back
Donating profits, time, or products to a charitable cause will showcase your brand as empathetic and increase your standing in the community’s eyes.
Choose a cause that resonates with your brand’s values, or that your employees are passionate about, and make a monetary donation.
You could even link your donation in with a social sharing campaign. Merging giving with social sharing lets you leverage your followers’ audiences to raise awareness at lightning speed—awareness of both the cause and your brand.
Disney did this with its #ShareYour Ears campaign, where every picture with Mickey ears and the campaign hashtag resulted in a donation from Disney to Make-A-Wish.
Creating a product or service that has a consistent charity tie-in is another solid route. Apparel brand Ivory Ella and jewelry brand 4Ocean offer awesome examples, as they have built their entire brands around charity products. Ivory Ella donates a portion of profits to elephant conservation, while 4Ocean pulls a pound of trash from the ocean with each bracelet sold.
Your brand could also give the gift of time, by having a group of your employees volunteer at a local nonprofit or community event. Or, you could start your own day of community beautification and volunteering, as Comcast has done with their Comcast Cares Day.
And if your products could directly help a nonprofit, community-building, or educational cause, why not donate some? Think a food manufacturer donating to a food pantry, a sports drink manufacturer supplying a soccer tournament with drinks, a home improvement store donating supplies to Habitat for Humanity, or a computer manufacturer supplying laptops to a school in need.
People will appreciate your brand’s commitment to making a difference, and that will stick in their minds. Just make sure that the charitable actions you take are genuine, not just done for publicity. If they’re done largely to shine the spotlight on you, this will backfire!
8. Give Away Free Stuff
Giving away items with your brand name on them, or valuable coupons, at events really makes you memorable. People are always excited to get something for nothing!
So, find a sporting event, concert, tradeshow, parade, conference, expo, or community day. Reserve a table or spot, and get giving.
Even better? If the event, you choose has a close connection to your brand’s niche. For example, a veterinarian’s office recently gave out portable water bowls with their office’s name printed on during a pet-friendly day at a local park.
Although all items are great choices, swag that people can wear or carry with them works particularly well. If someone wears a hat or t-shirt with your brand name on it or carries around the bag or water bottle you give out, they instantly become a walking billboard!
And regardless of what you give out, you’ll likely need to send a brand rep to distribute the swag. Use this valuable opportunity to forge connections with potential customers, and make yourself even more memorable!
9. Have Ambassadors Represent You
Recruiting brand ambassadors is a powerful way to generate brand awareness. These advocates promote your brand in the long term, on their own platforms, and with their own authentic voice, because they love your brand and think their audience would benefit from your products or services.
You might think that having brand ambassadors would be difficult and expensive, but ambassadors don’t have to be celebrities or people with a large following.
Far more important is that they hold authority in your niche or among members of your target audience, so it’s easy for people to trust them. For instance, if you’re a brand that targets college students (like Victoria’s Secret PINK), you might recruit students to be campus ambassadors, as they can easily reach their peers.
Ambassadors must also be enthusiastic, authentic fans of your brand already, and comfortable with holding one-on-one conversations about you.
Thus, it’s best to choose customers who have already spoken positively about your brand without prompting—who have previously contributed to spreading awareness about your brand via word-of-mouth.
10. Encourage User-Generated Content
Regardless of if you recruit formal ambassadors, you should leverage the content that all of your customers create—social media posts about your brand, authentic images showing them using your products in everyday life, and compelling videos.
Like all word-of-mouth, this user-generated content is powerful because your customers’ friends and followers trust what your customers choose to share. This increases the likelihood that these peers will remember your brand. So, it’s in your best interest to encourage customers to create this content.
You could hold an occasional contest to motivate your customers to create this content, and award prizes to the best entries.
Or, you could design a long-term campaign where you regularly feature the best user-generated content (with permission) on your own page. Watch brand Daniel Wellington does this regularly with their #DWPickOfTheDay feature.
You might also create a social media “challenge” where customers complete a certain task connected to your brand, tag you, and use an associated brand hashtag. In addition to the people participating directly, you’ll have the enthusiastic watchers who tag their friends— which will generate even more brand awareness.
11. Create a Referral Program
Even though it’s crucial for generating brand awareness, word-of-mouth can be difficult to control and track.
The power isn’t entirely out of your hands, though. Starting a referral program is a reliable way to promote and monitor word-of-mouth.
A referral program rewards your existing customers for sharing your brand with their friends, through incentives.
If you start a referral program, you have the freedom to choose the incentives that best motivate your customers to share— you could select discounts, store credits, free products, service upgrades, or another enticing reward. For their referral program, sock brand Bombas uses the enticing incentive of $20 store credit—more than enough for a free pair of socks.
Referral programs also make it easy for customers to share with just a few clicks, using the methods they prefer. And if you use referral program software, tracking these referrals is simple.
Potential customers trust these direct referrals from family and friends, so they pay close attention when your brand’s mentioned. Plus, there’s a greater likelihood that referred leads will become your customers—and referred customers tend to stay loyal to brands for longer periods.
Brand awareness isn’t just generated through the actions your brand takes directly. Word-of-mouth is also crucial to increasing your brand awareness because people remember their friends’ and peers’ opinions.
So, whichever strategies you choose, be sure that you’re building brand awareness through both of these main methods.
Which strategies do you think will work best for your business? It’s time to apply them and boost your brand awareness.
About The Author: Jessica Huhn is a marketing content writer at Referral Rock, where they believe that every business has the potential to increase their word-of-mouth marketing. When Jessica is not writing, there is a good chance that she is singing, arranging songs, or sharing and enjoying content on social media.