Brand awareness is a term from market research that describes the awareness of a brand. The percentage value indicates which part of the people surveyed recognized a brand. For more in-depth studies, brand awareness, for which the term “Brand Awareness” is divided into three levels.
Brand awareness is an important factor for a company, because it can decide on a purchase in many situations. In particular, brand awareness is very important in so-called “low-involvement situations,” in which the buyer pays little attention to the product because of the price or other circumstances. In such cases, in fact, most consumers reach for the “tried and true,” i.e., familiar names and brands.
However, there are other situations in which brand awareness is important, for example in business-to-business marketing, or B2B marketing for short. Here, many measures are based on the customer’s trust in the company – and trust can only exist if the customer knows the company or the associated brand.
In the business-to-consumer sector, brand awareness helps above all to retain customers in the long term. Through brand awareness, the customer is able to assign a certain image to the brand and then usually also associates certain – preferably positive – emotions with it. This in turn creates brand trust and leads the customer to reach for the brand’s products again and again. Ideally, they even become brand ambassadors who recommend the products to others out of conviction.
The dream goal in terms of brand awareness is when the brand name becomes a generic name – in other words, when the brand replaces the term actually used for the product in everyday speech. Well-known examples of this are “Tempo,” “Selters,” “Tesafilm,” and “Walkman,” for example. In areas with established products, however, it is hardly possible to achieve such a high level of brand awareness. In the case of new developments, on the other hand, this goal is certainly achievable – but extremely difficult due to the increasingly rapid emergence of imitation products.
Brand awareness in three stages
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much room for maneuver when it comes to brand awareness – people either know the brand or they don’t. However, it’s not quite that simple, because it also makes a difference how quickly people remember the brand and whether they might need some help to come up with it. A distinction is therefore made between three levels of brand awareness:
- Top of Mind
- Unaided Recall
- Aided Recall or also Recognition
“Top of Mind” means that people remember the brand immediately, so it is mentally present to them. In the case of “Unaided Recall”, people come up with the brand name, but it takes a while before it comes to mind. This level of brand awareness is still useful for companies, but especially in situations where a purchase decision is made quickly, brand awareness often no longer comes into play. In the third stage, “Aided Recall” or “Recognition,” people do not come up with the brand on their own. But if it is mentioned to them, they recognize it. This type of brand awareness is still particularly useful when the customer has little product knowledge, but can make his purchase decision at his leisure.
Brand awareness in online retailing
At first glance, one might think that brand awareness plays only a minor role in online retailing; after all, thanks to Google, users have a huge selection of products to choose from in just a few clicks. In addition, prices can be compared online in seconds, and descriptions and reviews make it easier to weigh up the advantages of certain products.
Despite all these possibilities, however, brand awareness actually plays a very important role when buying from online retailers. This is because products cannot be held in the hand and examined on the Internet. This is particularly important for most buyers of clothing and shoes, but even in the case of electronic products, the buttons and switches can be used to draw conclusions about the quality of the product – at least supposedly. If such a “manual” examination is not possible, most customers rely on well-known brands. This is because in their minds, buyers unconsciously associate a certain minimum level of quality with the well-known brand.
Accordingly, many SEO measures are also aimed at increasing brand awareness. The idea behind this is quite simple: the more frequently the brand name appears on Google or in social media content on Facebook or other portals, the more frequently it is perceived by users. In addition to these relatively simple optimization measures, however, there are various other ways to increase brand awareness.
Measures to increase brand awareness
As mentioned above, advertisements such as Google AdWords or Facebook Ads are a very simple way to make a brand better known. Unfortunately, however, this option can also be quite expensive, because if ads are to be placed for highly competitive search terms, steep fees are charged for Google AdWords.
Optimizing your own site according to SEO standards is usually more cost-effective and also contributes to brand awareness. In addition, there are many other – usually quite inexpensive – ways to improve brand awareness, such as:
- Referral programs
- Guest posts on other sites
- Freemium products
- Social media contests
Referral programs are based on a very simple principle: the customer receives an additional benefit if he or she recommends the product or service to others. Such programs are particularly suitable for digital products, because here it is comparatively easy to check whether the customer has really recommended the product. In principle, however, they can be used in conjunction with all types of products and services. A good example of a successful referral program is the offer from the cloud storage company Dropbox. Here, every customer who persuades an acquaintance to use Dropbox receives additional cloud storage. Especially in the early days after the company was founded, this referral program contributed significantly to the spread of Dropbox – and thus also to brand awareness.
Guest posts are particularly interesting for companies that rely on social media content, because good content is shared more frequently on social networks like Facebook. If a company manages to publish a well-founded article on a certain topic on someone else’s Facebook page, this effect is amplified. The reason for this is quite simple: if others think the article is so good that they publish it on their own page, it automatically has a higher-quality effect on readers and they are more inclined – albeit unconsciously – to share it with others.
Another way to increase brand awareness is through freemium products, which offer a paid version as well as a free version that is usually limited in function or scope. Provided the free version is not too limited, users will naturally recommend the product to others – after all, who would say no to a free, high-quality product? Of course, not all new users will opt for the paid version, but some of them will – and the others will remember the brand name well thanks to the freemium product.
Social media contests are also a good way to ensure greater brand awareness. Companies can opt for very simple variants, such as a sweepstakes, or opt for more elaborate measures, such as a contest in which users create their own content. The advantage of a contest on a social media platform is that the whole thing can very quickly become self-perpetuating – the first users draw the attention of others to the content, who share it again with others, who also forward it … and so on.
An absolute classic in terms of brand awareness are giveaways, i.e. free gifts that come with the actual purchased product. These can be, for example, ballpoint pens, notepads or LED lamps in check-card format. Even digital giveaways, such as fancy designs for the social media profile page, are possible. Giveaways have two key advantages: they are usually very inexpensive, and if they are useful, they are often used, so the brand name is always in view.
Brand awareness reflects the familiarity of a brand and is a decisive factor in purchasing decisions in various situations. Brand awareness plays an important role in online retailing in particular, as the customer cannot pick up and examine the products here.
The possibilities for increasing brand awareness are very diverse and range from social media competitions and SEO measures to advertising via Google AdWords or Facebook Ads.
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