It takes less than 10 seconds for people to form an opinion about your brand
What can you do to ensure, that the impression users get about your brand is a positive one?
With so many brands competing for your attention, it gets harder to stand out so first impression counts more than ever.
If you fail to grab people’s attention in the first few seconds they get exposed to your brand, the opportunity to make a lasting impression may be lost forever. As they say, “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression”. That is why it so crucial for businesses to do everything possible to get the brand seen positively by people who get exposed to it.
And you can’t underestimate the importance of branding and how it affects the way people interact with businesses. Don’t believe it, check out examples below.
If you’re trying to answer a question, solve a problem, or figure out how to accomplish a task, and want a quick answer…you probably Google it.
If you cut your finger and need to cover up the bleeding wound so it will heal faster…you probably grab a Band-Aid.
If you’re at a restaurant and thirsty for some soda…you’re likely to ask for a Coke.
When your brand becomes a household name like Google, Band-Aid, and Coca-Cola, that’s the pinnacle of brand awareness. But you don’t have to go that far to increase awareness of your brand. There are other easier ways to establish a brand.
What exactly is brand awareness?
Brand awareness can be defined as how recognizable a brand is, and how easily people can differentiate between individual brands and their competitors. This is critical because people prefer to buy brands they know and trust.
Interestingly enough, consumers don’t need to remember your company name for brand awareness to occur (although that’s helpful, of course). As long as they remember something unique and recognizable about a specific brand, and recall this later, they’ve exhibited brand awareness.
You can build brand awareness through both your brand’s own direct marketing efforts and through word-of-mouth—when people share your brand with their friends, family, and peers.
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Now that we’ve defined what brand awareness is, here are 14 tips and strategies you can use to increase brand awareness.
1. Social Media
It’s a digital world—we’re just living in it. People spend countless hours of free time on social media. Statista reports that, in 2018, the average social media user spent 2 hours and 15 minutes per day browsing social networks. So, social media is one of the best ways to get your brand in front of your target audience.
But people tend to tune out traditional ads, so you’ll need to be more creative than that. Let’s break down the best brand awareness strategies for paid social media.
Create Viral Brand Awareness Campaigns
If your brand goes viral in a positive way, you’re on the cusp of becoming a household name. Virality is the “holy grail” for brands on social media. You can’t control when content goes viral, but you can increase the chances that you’ll go viral using these guidelines.
- Know your audience. For instance, are you targeting students? Parents? Businesspeople?
- Determine: What does your audience want from content? For example, do they want to be entertained? Do they want to be inspired? Are they seeking knowledge?
- Draw your audience in with a compelling image or video. Make sure to clearly project your brand image and tone.
The Will It Blend video series by blender company Blendtec is an awesome example. Will It Blend went viral because it entertained without being intrusive about selling, yet still kept the product front and center with a unique selling point. Where else will you find a blender that will blend basically anything you throw in it—even smartphones?
Create Entertaining and Humorous Content
Whether it goes viral or not, entertaining and humorous content is an awesome way to get your brand to stick in people’s minds! Your goal here is to blur the lines so people enjoy the content so much, that they don’t realize it’s a type of ad. But at the same time, you’re aiming at building brand consciousness subtly. Without them realizing it, your brand will stick in your audience’s minds.
Wendy’s is an absolute master at delivering entertaining content on Twitter, and they’ve gone viral multiple times as a result. They started with their famous roasts—witty comebacks to others’ tweets (see below for two of the best examples). From those roasts, to memes, to playlists, to Super Mario Maker 2 levels, Wendy’s always knows how to generate brand awareness in a fun way.
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool because people tend to trust what their friends share with them and thus more likely to trust and remember your brand.
- Consider running contests and campaigns to motivate your customers to share their reviews, videos and images related to your brand, with enticing prizes to reward them.
- You might also create a “reward” or “contest” associated with specific hashtags, to encourage your customers to promote and share info your brand. Even if people don’t participate directly, they’ll tag their friends if they like what they see.
- Setup a system to reward the creators of the best content featuring your brand and also repost this content on your own social media account (don’t forget to credit original sources).
Play-Off on What’s Trending
If you’re marketing to younger audiences, making branded posts playing off of trending topics is an awesome way to catch people’s eyes—and possibly gain some virality of your own. Just make sure that the topic is not sensitive or controversial.
Check out this example, where BarkBox played off of the “Bird Box” Netflix movie that was trending in late 2018. This funny photo is actually user-generated content that one of BarkBox’s followers shared, and BarkBox then reposted.
Use the Social Media Platforms Your Audience Prefers
Whichever methods you decide on, don’t try to post on every social network at once. This will be far too time-consuming, and you’ll waste efforts on audiences that don’t align with your target. Instead, carefully pick the social networks that your target audience frequents most. Use analytics to see which networks your customers use the most. See what posts and pages get the most shares and what social sites bring in the most traffic.
2. Share Your Story
Sharing the compelling stories behind your brand makes it easier for people to talk about you. You could talk about how your brand came to be in blog posts, videos, social media posts, and more.
If your brand was inspired by providing a solution to a common problem, you need to share that. A story like that is moving, memorable, and highly shareable. Athletic apparel powerhouse Under Armour has that kind of unique story. They created moisture-wicking shirts that would stay cool and dry, no matter how much athletes would sweat—something no other apparel brand thought to do. As a result, their brand awareness skyrocketed!
Consider sharing your “personal story” — an authentic, intriguing narrative that builds and explains your brand, organization, business strategy and/or customer relationship.
This kind of story is all about the “why” behind the brand: the brand’s mission and values, and how they developed. When you write your story, make sure to use an appropriate tone that suits your brand.
But don’t just tell your brand’s story, talk about the people behind the brand, too. Make it personal and something your customers can relate. Think about showing a behind-the-scenes video of your team or offices, free trial or spotlighting individual people on your team for your blog or social media. This contributes to your brand’s credibility and adds a human touch.
Telling inspiring, authentic customer stories (or letting the customers tell their own stories) also increases your brand’s shareability. Salesforce has an entire page of customer stories where it spotlights clients like (RED).
3. Enlist Influencers and Brand Ambassadors
Think about recruiting influencers or brand ambassadors to build your brand awareness. These influencers can promote your brand in their own authentic voice, on their own platforms, because they love your brand and think it will resonate with their audience.
Both influencers and brand ambassadors must have authority in your niche or among members of your audience, to make a significant impact. They might not have large amounts of followers, but they can easily influence the followers they have.
There are many influencers and ambassadors who might not be helpful promoting your brand, so choose them wisely and do your research before making an investment.
- Influencers promote your brand in the short-term, by showing how they use it in real life, on their own social media accounts.
- Meanwhile, ambassadors engage in long-term promotion. They are masters of authentic online and offline conversations, especially when they’re one-on-one.
- Ambassadors spread the word about your brand at tradeshows and events, through guerrilla marketing campaigns, on social media, and through networking.
Influencer Haley (@redrhinestone) promotes Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner.
4. Publish Authoritative Posts
Writing informational blog posts on topics in your brand’s niche will help increase your brand authority. As many digital marketing contents marketers will tell you, creating high-quality content has been shown to be extremely effective in growing your brand online. If you sell healthy snacks, for example, you can share tips on healthy eating. If you are a clothing brand, you can share fashion advice. It will be difficult for someone who stands to benefit from your brand to forget the advice you share.
Consider creating accounts on LinkedIn and/or Medium, and posting informational and educational content on these channels. You can also answer questions on sites such as Quora related to your niche. The wide reach of these sites will pay dividends!
5. Contribute Guest Posts
Don’t just limit your blogging to your own website and publishing accounts. Submitting high-quality guest posts to other websites is an awesome way to build your brand’s credibility, and get your brand in front of new eyes. Find relevant blogs that accept guest blogs where you can share expertise related to your brand’s niche and start contributing.
Just make sure that, in every guest post, you include an author bio with a link to your brand’s website or social media account. If you have space to do so, also include a brief description of your brand (in one sentence or less).
If your brand maintains its own blog, and you can exchange quality guest posts (write a guest post for another site, and a writer from that site will contribute a post for your site in return), that’s even better. After all, when the marketers from that site share the post they contributed on their social channels, that’s another opportunity for new traffic to come to your website.
6. Start a Podcast
If your niche doesn’t have many podcasts covering topics your customers are interested in, why not start your own? Interviewing experts in your field builds relationships and exposes you to the experts’ audiences. You could also repurpose the transcripts from the podcasts into new piece of content.
If you’re in an industry such as marketing, with loads of existing podcasts, it’s probably too difficult to compete with your own podcast. However, you can still have your experts make appearances on others’ relevant podcasts, and share their stories and insights.
7. Create Visuals and Infographics
Don’t rely on text and audio alone. On average, people remember only 10-20% of the information they read or hear, but 65% of what they see. So, be sure to include visuals in your brand awareness strategy. Have some compelling statistics, or other useful information, related to your niche? Design an infographic, and clearly display your brand logo. Infographics are easily shared, so they’re a great way to boost your brand’s authority. Check out this infographic with more stats on infographics, as compiled by Fishbat.
8. Run Digital Ad Campaigns
Whether you run them on a website or on social networks, you need to write compelling copy and employ images to generate the greatest brand awareness from digital ad campaigns. Always use a strong call-to-action, and design ads that work well on websites, networks and devices your audience uses most. Consider videos or slideshows if they work well on the platforms your audience frequents. And if you use Google Ads, be sure to target keywords that your intended audience is searching for.
9. Don’t Neglect Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing seem outdated and ineffective, but it still can work. You could display an ad in physical locations like billboards, flyers, or store signage. And you’ve probably seen cars or vans completely covered with a colorful ad—a car wrap. That grabs attention quickly, so that’s a great option for your company car. Wherever you drive, people will become more familiar with your brand!
An ad for Pepsi Mini by Car Wrap City.
10. Form Strategic Partnerships
Consider forming partnerships with other businesses related to your niche, in your area, or with a similar audience, so you can recommend each other to your customers.
- For example, if you are in the luxury space selling menswear, you can partner with companies selling luxury watches and wine.
- Or, if you produce a magazine, and your target audience frequently travels, you could partner with the travel company to have them share your magazine with travelers on their journeys.
Think about setting up a formalized partner program or reseller program if you would like to form multiple partnerships. You can also join or start your own affiliate program to help you grow your business and promote your brand.
11. Try Free Giveaways
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Giving out free items with your logo is an awesome way to make people aware of your brand. Partner with a tradeshow, a festival, a sporting event, a concert, or a community day, and hand out your branded swag. As an added bonus, this gives your brand the opportunity to forge personal connections with potential customers, since you’ll likely send a brand representative to hand out the freebies. And if the item is wearable or useful to carry around (think t-shirts, hats, totes, and water bottles), the people who receive them become your walking billboards.
It’s even better if the event has a direct connection to your niche. In my own community, a veterinary clinic gave out portable water bowls at a “doggy day” festival. Finding an event with large amounts of target audience members, and giving out something that the brand knew its prospects would use, was an awesome strategy.
You can use a similar event marketing strategy with discount coupons. Burger chain Fuddruckers partnered with the Barnstormers minor league baseball team to hand out $5 restaurant credits on certain Fridays, and “buy one, get one” burger coupons on nights that the team scored five runs or more.
12. Give Back to Community
If there’s a charitable cause you’re passionate about or know a community organization that could benefit from your products, services, or employees’ time, why not help them out. This will showcase your brand as empathetic and increase your standing in the community’s eyes. (Just make sure your donation is genuine, and not just aimed at generating publicity, or else it will backfire.)
If a cause is not local, a monetary donation is a great way to give back and show your brand in a positive light.
And if a product you sell directly connects to a community cause, why not donate some of your products to show your support. For example, a home improvement store could donate supplies for a nonprofit building’s refurbishment, or a bottled water company could donate cases of water to the community soccer tournament, 5K run, or choir festival. You can get local news covering your support and as the result get free media coverage helping your brand expand its reach.
13. Use SEO to Grow Your Online Presence
SEO, or the process of optimizing your website to rank highly on search engines for relevant keywords, is vital to building brand awareness. Being easily found in search results makes your brand look more authoritative than others, and helps users find and learn about your brand before they investigate lower-ranking competition.
SEO can be an affordable long-term strategy that can lead to many benefits if done consistently. A Referral Rock survey found that 59% of marketers believe that SEO is one of the most cost-effective content types for building brand awareness. So, think about keywords that relate to your brand, and build your website to increase your Google rank for these keywords. For example, Macy’s, Zumiez, Nordstrom, and Pretty Little Thing have all optimized their sites for the keyword “teen clothing.”
14. Referral and Affiliate Programs
As we mentioned above, word-of-mouth is crucial for increasing brand awareness. The more people talk about you to their friends, the more people know about you! Word-of-mouth can be difficult to control and track. However, starting a referral program is a reliable way to promote word-of-mouth and take back some control.
- A referral program sweetens the pot by rewarding your customers for sharing your brand with their friends, through incentives like store credits, discounts, gift cards, free products, or service upgrades.
- Referral programs also make it easy for customers to share with just a few clicks, using the methods they prefer.
- And customers trust referrals from family and friends as compared to information relayed by brands, so they pay close attention when your brand’s mentioned. Plus, they’re more likely to purchase than other leads, and more likely to remain your customers for longer periods.
Wrapping things up
Remember that you can generate brand awareness in many different ways. You can grow it by direct actions and attempting to reach as many people as possible. Or you and find ways to encourage your loyal customers share and spread the word about your brand. Now that you know 14 effective strategies to spark brand awareness, it’s time to implement the strategies and apply them to your business.
Author Bio: 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.