Awareness is one of the two most important drivers of strong brands (the other being relevant differentiation). Past research has shown brand awareness to have a high correlation with quality perceptions, purchase intent, market share and other important brand and business metrics. I have found top-of-mind unaided brand awareness for the product/service category in question to be the awareness measure most correlated with positive brand and business outcomes.
If your company has created a superior product offered at a price that delivers an outstanding value and supports the product with unparalleled service, but no one has ever heard of your company or its products, how many of those products are you likely to sell? Zero. That’s why awareness is so important. It is the cornerstone of strong brands.
Research indicates that the primary impact advertising has on brands is to build awareness for those brands.
What, in addition to advertising, can one do to build strong brand awareness? – (a) any form of repeated exposure to the brand and (b) a strong brand identity consistently presented. Any of the following can lead to repeated exposure:
- Extensive distribution
- Publicity and brand-related stories/articles
- Publicity stunts
- Product placement in movies, games, etc.
- Direct marketing
- A strong social media presence
- Creating and distributing viral brand content
- Customer referrals
- Word of mouth marketing
- Frequency programs
- Insignia merchandise
- Brand licensing
- A strong presence at trade shows and in trade magazines
- Thought leadership in the industry – white papers, speeches, roundtable discussions, user conferences, best practice benchmarking, etc.
- Branding on employee uniforms, sides of vehicles, in front of buildings, etc.
- Brand signature on all email messages
- Programs promoting product trial
- Brand-related contests
- Brand participation in local activities and events
A strong identity requires a strong icon, a tagline that reinforces the brand promise, a highly functional identity system and guidelines and a champion (“identity police”) to ensure consistent use. Digital asset management systems are excellent in driving consistent use.