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Brand Awareness: Defining, Measuring, and implementing it into your marketing strategy

Gordon Mccaw

Gordon McCaw

Marketing

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness, by definition, is the level of familiarity or fame/notoriety that a brand has amongst target audiences compared to its competitive set. Brands with high levels of awareness are typically well recognised and easily identifiable in their sectors. When brand awareness levels are high and sentiment is positive, these brands are generally well thought of, respected and considered trustworthy. When sentiment is negative, these brands are poorly thought of and can be considered untrustworthy.

How do you measure it?

There are several ways of measuring brand awareness. In more recent years, marketers tend to rely on tools that can track brand health and place numerical values on metrics to make them more meaningful to key stakeholders within a business. For instance, YouGov has a brand health tracker that measures brand awareness by asking panellists to select and identify brand logos that they’re familiar with. Over time, this gives companies a baseline metric for what their awareness levels are, and the impact of any marketing activity is seen when this metric fluctuates.

How does it equate to ROI?

The relationship between brand awareness and return on investment (ROI) is one that many out with the marketing discipline struggle to define. As marketers we have made great strides in being able to show the overwhelmingly beneficial impact high brand awareness over time has on long-term ROI with well established research by Binet and Field and the introduction of econometrics. With the latter, we’re able to say with a degree of economic certainty how much of a return every element of our marketing activity has delivered.

How does brand awareness impact your marketing strategies?

Awareness of a brand can have a significant impact on marketing strategies we put forward. If a brand has high awareness within their category, we are able to focus our marketing strategy more around how we would convert that awareness into sales through our marketing mix. However when brand awareness is low, we would need to first consider how we use our marketing mix to elevate awareness and recognition in the brand before they are able to convert potential customers into sales.

How do you balance short term and long-term ambitions when it comes to profitability and brand awareness?

Brands need to recognise that marketing activities that are traditionally associated with increasing brand awareness (whilst having little impact in the short term) are an investment in the future of the brand and will help the brand continue to grow, build market share and ultimately become more profitable in the long term. Research has been conducted across the globe and a multitude of sectors that has mirrored Binet and Field’s original finding of the strong relationship between activities focusing on building brand awareness and long-term profitability.

Saying that, there is nothing wrong with brands looking to run marketing activities that promote short-term actions and encourage actions/purchases from customers - within reason. If a brand focuses too heavily on short-term profitability and doesn’t invest in activities that will improve their brand awareness and sentiment, it will become increasingly difficult to grow the business as customers have no real reason to purchase or engage with the brand over those in the competitive set. Striking a balance between the two is the key to success. The long-time (general) rule of thumb was always 60% of your marketing investment should be in brand building activities and 40% in short-term/direct response. But this does vary by industry, of course.

What are the do’s and do nots when it comes to developing brand awareness strategies?

Do's

  • Have a consistent and actionable framework to measure any changes in brand awareness, so that effectiveness of marketing strategies can be assessed
  • Be clear with stakeholders that investment in brand awareness activities may not lead to immediate increases in sales/traffic etc
  • Important to have a very clear understanding of the brand’s target audience and how to reach/engage them with messaging. This will help focus on what marketing mix is best for reaching core audiences and raising awareness amongst them.
  • These audiences should also be measurable within the developed framework

Don'ts

  • Try to be all things to all people. Brand awareness isn’t about the general population being aware of your brand but rather those within your core target market being aware of the brand.
  • Focus on vanity channels – any marketing channels should still be useful and measurable (in some capacity) in building awareness amongst your core audience.