What Is Brand Awareness, and Why Does It Matter?

Melanie Balke
April 17, 2023

Marketing strategies are as numerous as the stars in the sky.

And it seems like people are dreaming up new ways to reach audiences every day! Staying on top of the news is a time-consuming and tiring task, which is why I’m constantly updating my blog with the latest and greatest tips to supercharge your marketing.

Today, I’m focusing on one of the most phenomenal ways to bring in new audiences without breaking the bank. Introducing: Brand awareness! This inbound marketing-adjacent tactic bolsters a brand’s customer journey and improves top-of-mind awareness. It has the power to make your brand’s perceived value skyrocket, and it doesn’t have to cost millions.

Enough rambling, right?

Let’s dive in!

What Is Brand Awareness?

An old postcard. "The Basics: What Is Brand Awareness?"

I’ll start with the basics.

Oxford Dictionary defines brand awareness as “the extent to which consumers are familiar with the distinctive qualities or image of a particular brand of goods or services.” That’s a mouthful of a definition, and it’s not all that helpful. So, let’s break it down a bit more.

A simpler way to define the term comes from Carol M. Kopp of Investopedia, who summarizes the term as “the degree to which customers recognize a brand by name.”

Why Is Brand Awareness Important?

An inverted and blurred scan of an old newspaper. "Importance: Why Should My Business Care About Brand Recognition?"

The ability to instantly recognize a brand is a critical (albeit often overlooked) part of marketing. Take a second to think about the brands you know. Massive companies — like Starbucks, Target, and Walmart — have a strong foothold in the public consciousness. Seeing a bright red bullseye reminds most people of the retail chain. Likewise, plenty of people find their mouths watering around that familiar shade of forest green.

That’s because these brands have realized the power of familiarity.

Consumers trust what they know, and building brand awareness directly correlates to increased loyalty. Notably, brand recognition isn’t something that most people purposefully think about as they shop. In fact, a June 2020 study showed that most shoppers don’t even notice they’re going for what they know.

To put things more bluntly, good brand awareness promotes increased conversions, trust, and overall business success! In the age of adblocking, awareness also gives businesses a secure and infallible way to reach customers’ minds.

How to Measure Brand Awareness

A musical score. "Branding: How to Measure Brand Awareness."

Naturally, you’ll need a way to measure brand awareness.

The bad news here is that measuring brand awareness is a complicated process. Multiple schools of thought say different things, and it’s ultimately your choice. I’ll present some of the key ways to track your brand recognition, but be aware that your method depends on your marketing goals.

Track Brand Recognition With Metrics

An aerial map. "Measuring: Tracking Your Branding Metrics and Stats."

The old-fashioned way may be labor-intensive, but plenty of suites — including Google Analytics — have built-in awareness-tracking dashboards. Such pages centralize the data you must know, but you can also track your brand awareness manually.

As you’re building brand awareness, the most important metrics to monitor are:

  • Customer Feedback: Your reviews tell you how customers feel about your brand.
  • Reach: This metric reflects how many people have seen your brand.
  • Referral Traffic: Both SEO and referral program traffic increase brand awareness. This metric is particularly effective for discovering keywords, too.
  • Web Traffic: Both direct traffic (going directly to a website) and referral program hits reflect how people interact with your brand.

See What Customers Are Saying With Social Listening

A pair of over-ear headphones. "Know the Crowd: Social Listening and Social Monitoring."

Any brand dabbling in social media marketing — and, these days, that’s the vast majority! — can track its brand awareness campaigns with a trick known as social listening. Like search engine optimization (SEO), this method tracks live data to demonstrate how people interact and discuss a certain brand.

Social listening is a sophisticated automated process that tracks real-time brand mentions on social media sites. These comments are compiled and analyzed for their sentiment. There’s also social monitoring, which operates similarly. However, monitoring alerts brands to mentions, allowing companies to respond to negative comments and complaints. Both strategies ultimately give companies valuable data, which can be compared to competitors’ metrics.

This kind of active customer-first social media marketing helps businesses build brand awareness and create a sense of community.

Discover More Campaign Ideas With Surveys

An inverted form. "Ask Questions: Using Surveys to Determine Your Brand Recognition."

Finally, brands can go straight to the source! If you’re ever wondering how customers feel about your brand, it’s probably time to send out a survey.

Most brands regularly send consumer awareness surveys, and these questionnaires should be sent to both paying customers and new audiences.

On-site polls and branded emails are great ways to send out a survey. Method of distribution notwithstanding, every awareness survey should measure at least one of these four critical metrics:

  • Brand Identity: How does your brand distinguish itself from other brands?
  • Brand Image: How do customers feel after interacting with your brand?
  • Brand Perception: How do customers feel about your brand?
  • Brand Recall: How easily do customers’ minds remember your brand?

Tips and Tricks for Your Brand Awareness Campaigns

A colonial style house. "Basic Tips: The ABCs of Boosting Brand Awareness."

Dang! Look at all of those perks! Surely, you’re chomping at the bit to build brand awareness!

But! Not so fast!

There are certain ways to do it right, and I’m here to help! Keep scrolling to see my top tips for securing top-of-mind awareness and reaching your ideal target audience.

Always Start With a Goal

Soccer balls. "Goals: Have Clear Goals for Your Brand Awareness Strategy."

Like everything else in marketing — regardless of if you’re a large or small business — you must start with a clear goal. Every brand awareness campaign should have a clear end, and that end must have a direction.

There exists a near-infinite array of goals for your marketing campaigns, with the most obvious outcome being “increase brand awareness.” However, you can also have secondary goals, such as:

  • Backing up other advertising campaigns
  • Bolstering marketing effectiveness
  • Comparing your products to other brands
  • Establishing brand familiarity
  • Gathering more user-generated content
  • Improving certain KPIs
  • Pushing new social media posts
  • Raise awareness of an upcoming event or sale
  • Reinforcing existing brand recognition
  • Stating the brand’s values

A Quick Note About Brand Familiarity

You may have noticed that I included a new term in that list.

Brand familiarity is a lot like brand recognition and brand awareness, but it’s not the same thing! Put simply, brand awareness is knowing a brand exists, and conversely, brand familiarity is being known for something.

A steam-powered train. Overlaid text describes the difference between brand awareness and brand familiarity, as defined above.

You should always aim to balance familiarity and awareness! And, yes, that means many of your early campaigns will focus on building a solid reputation. In addition to establishing a voice and tone, building your brand’s familiarity requires a human touch.

Give your brand a personality! Establish goals and a vision for your business and make sure customers are aware of those ideas.

These efforts may not earn you many monetary returns, but you will surely see increased engagement and chatter.

Be Consistent

Overlapping foliage. "Be Consistent: Have a Defined Look and Feel for Your Company."

Once you know what you’re doing, it’s time to build your brand.

Give designers and marketers a clear guidebook about your brand. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but it should have basic information about your company’s tone. These guidelines make it easier for your team to develop consistent content, making your marketing strategies more efficient and reliable.

Some key points to include in your brand awareness playbook include:

  • Audience information
  • Colors and palettes
  • Language and tonal guides
  • Logo guidelines

Again, you don’t need an entire thesis. A few bullet points are enough to get started and reach potential customers. However, you must be consistent. Otherwise, all of that word-of-mouth marketing you’ve built up ends up getting jumbled!

Digging Deeper With More Brand Awareness Tips

A rural skyline. "More Tips: How to Boost Brand Awareness."

Want to market like a premium brand?

Well, once you’ve nailed those two basics, you’re doing the proverbial walk. Now, you have to build up to a run. Literally! It’s time to refine that brand voice and hone your messaging.

(Of course, you’ll want to check in with your target audience. Ensure your brand awareness campaign aligns with your user base because clashing with your loyal customers is the last thing you want!)

Create Brand Awareness With Personality

It may seem silly, but many customers find brand recall easier when they are active and approachable. (Or, in some cases, the exact opposite!) More precisely, savvy companies boost brand awareness by crafting a personality for their company.

Think of some of the big viral marketing efforts out there. Wendy’s is well known for its no-nonsense Twitter responses, while Tumblr has defined itself as a place for humor and art. Both of these companies understand brand awareness, and each implements its own unique strategy.

The Wendy's Twitter page.

Here’s Wendy’s Twitter page. Notice the snarky tone and massive follower count.

Conversely, check out Tumblr’s homepage on Twitter. Again, you have a very distinct voice. Moreover, Tumblr integrates its community into its brand message. The account frequently Tweets well-known Tumblr posts and employs many silly brand awareness strategies across the web.

Tumblr's Twitter page.

Both brands use social media to boost brand recognition, and it works well! Now, these quirky marketing efforts won’t work for everyone, but they’re a great base for building brand awareness.

Keep in mind, too, that social media marketing requires a unique skill set and monitoring tools for measuring brand awareness.

Make It Easy to Share Content

Assorted building blocks. "Sharability: Make It Easy to Spread the Message to Others."

Finally, it’s no secret that familiarity breeds better brand recall. So, naturally, part of your brand awareness strategy should be sharability!

Take these blog posts as an example. All of these helpful articles can be easily shared with anyone. Likewise, the Twitter-based brand awareness examples are easy to retweet to a wider audience.

Think of your content as an extension of a classic referral program — or, maybe, as viral signage at sporting events.

The end goal is promotion.

You want as many people as possible to know about your brand! Make the mission easier by giving customers ways to share content.

Email and Content Marketing Can Help!

Ready to make sure consumers recognize your brand worldwide?

It’s time to enlist some pros. At The Email Marketers, you’ll find a team of marketing experts ready to new you new users and pump up your brand trust.

We’re just a phone call away, and your consultation is free. And, while you’re waiting for your first brand-boosting meeting, don’t be afraid to check out the rest of my blog posts.