Question for our fellow millennials out there. Remember those Apple commercials from the mid-2000s encouraging you to get a Mac because it was what the ~cool kids~ were doing?
“I’m a Mac. And I’m a PC!” We don’t see those commercials anymore, but the Apple vs. Android debate still rages on today.
So do other brand debates like Marvel vs. DC Comics. Coke vs. Pepsi. Trader Joe’s vs. Whole Foods. Costco vs. Sam’s. Nike vs. Adidas. What is it about some brands that turn casual consumers into loyal, “this brand is better and I will die on this hill” kind of fans?
Lots of things, but one big factor is brand awareness.
What is brand awareness?
Here’s a dry and kinda boring definition of brand awareness from Oxford Languages:
the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.
“a campaign to increase brand awareness”
We like Investopedia’s to-the-point definition of brand awareness, which is “a marketing term that describes the degree of consumer recognition of a product by its name.” Basically, brand awareness is how recognizable and familiar your brand is to your target audience.
If the concept of brand awareness seems kinda murky and vague and hard to measure, it is. But what we can explain is how brand awareness benefits your biz.
What can brand awareness do for my biz?
What’s so great about having a recognizable brand? A lot, in fact.
It builds loyalty and trust.
In the early stages, brand awareness helps your target audience remember and become comfortable with your brand and what you offer. Once a customer has a good experience with your brand—or a few good experiences—they’ll probably continue to buy from you in the future without spending time researching other brands or reading reviews.
In short, they’ll become loyal to your brand. They trust it because they’re familiar with it, and they have a positive experience to fall back on. You need brand awareness if you want your target audience to start trusting you.
It puts you above your competitors.
Do you look for a tissue when you have a runny nose, or reach for a Kleenex? Do you use a search engine to look up a question, or simply Google something? Do you grab a bandage to cover up a cut, or find a Band-Aid?
You might say that using Kleenex, Google, or Band-Aid instead of their counterparts just saves time and words, but if it does, it’s not by much. “Tissue” and “Kleenex” are the same number of syllables. So are “bandage” and “Band-Aid.”
What’s happening here is that these companies have reached such a high level of brand awareness that their product names replace common nouns or verbs. Consumers naturally associate their products with the generic item itself…even if they’re not using that actual brand.
It strengthens your reputation.
Some brands are known for having high-quality products or services, even if you could argue that their competitors’ offerings are better. This is called brand equity, which is the value of a brand based on consumer experiences and perception. You could also call it brand reputation.
A positive brand reputation can make it easier to find and retain customers, introduce new business offers, promote your biz, generate more leads, and so much more.
How do you start building a positive brand reputation? By increasing brand awareness. Making your brand familiar and trustworthy to your audience.
How to build brand awareness? With content
All of that stuff we just covered sounds great, right? But… how do you get there? Sounds like it would take years, a lot of money spent on ads, and more. Actually, though, you can build brand awareness without dropping a ton of money on marketing tools or expensive ads. That’s where our good old friend content comes in.
Connect with your audience online.
Talk to your audience on social media, your website, your blog, any platform where there’s an opportunity for conversation. Talk to them consistently, not just when you’re trying to promote a new offer or sale.
Stumped on what to say? Come up with a list of content ideas. Go with your gut when choosing which ones to try first. Tell stories. Share behind-the-scenes snapshots of your biz. Ramble about one of your business-related pet peeves. Offer your unique opinion.
And if some of your content flops or doesn’t feel right, try something different. Just keep talking to your audience and put yourself out there.
Offer something of value for free.
Everyone loves freebies, and in today’s digital age, offering free content is pretty inexpensive, which we love to hear as entrepreneurs. Freebies let your customers try out your services or products before making a purchase. They can also point your audience to other forms of content, free or paid, that you offer.
A quick list of freebies that you can use to raise brand awareness:
- PDF downloads
- Social media tools
- How-to guides
- Podcast episodes
Have a personality.
We’re not trying to sound like a broken record, but having a unique and genuine brand voice will set you apart from your competitors. You’re more memorable when you act and sound like yourself.
Plus, can you imagine running your brand and business trying to emulate someone else? That sounds exhausting. And boring. No thanks. Don’t be afraid to have a personality when creating and sharing content.
Commit to brand awareness
A final thought: brand awareness isn’t some one-and-done quick marketing tactic to help you reach your goals or complete a successful marketing campaign. It should be a permanent part of your brand strategy.
Even if you don’t reach that top tier level of brand awareness like Coke or Google, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of brand awareness for your own small business.
Take advantage of what you can do through your content. Connect with your target audience. Offer them valuable freebies. Be yourself. Your brand will become more familiar, trustworthy, and memorable in no time.