How to Build Brand Awareness
Need help building a brand awareness campaign?
First, be sure you really know your brand. (This sounds obvious, but an awareness campaign is a big investment and you want to put your best foot forward.) Then decide where you want to be known (geography) and by who (target audience). If you are providing great customer experiences, it more of a game of what you can afford and how you communicate. You’ll need to decide how often (frequency), maintain differentiation from your competition, and keep a pulse on timing. The buying cycle plays a role in when you run your ads and so does demand in general (who is buying and why). Getting brand recognition is not going to be overnight, but every touch counts. Brand awareness is the beginning of long-term relationships with you and your prospects and customers.
Know Your Brand
One of the best ways to better understand your brand is to work with a third-party that specializes in branding. They will help you by asking questions similar to these examples provided by Alex Honeysett:
- I want my brand to make people feel ________.
- Three words that describe my brand are ________, ________, and ________.
- I dislike brand voices that sound like ________.
Establish Brand Guidelines
Brand awareness is communicating the personality of your brand—the brand’s personality creates stickiness in the minds of your audience. Consistency is key in getting others to recognize and recall who you are in the market–this is where brand equity grows. Brand guidelines will be used by your team and anyone assisting with your campaign. The last thing you want to do is invest in a brand awareness campaign that leaves your audience unsure of who you are. Here are components to include in your brand guidelines:
- Logo and acceptable variations
- Color palette
- Font(s) & typography
- Style for photography
- Brand voice and writing style
Know Your Customers
Prior to launching an awareness campaign, build out personas. (If you don’t know what personas are, Kevin O’Connor of UX Magazine explains it well here.) The process involves a deep dive into the mindset of your target so you can know how to communicate with them effectively and create great customer experiences.
Set a Budget
Generally, business spend roughly 2-10% of the projected sales on marketing. If you are a new business, expect to invest on the higher end. Once you have tested channels and messaging effectiveness, set a benchmark.
- Determine the size of the population of your target audience and how many of them you can afford to reach with one campaign. Then decide how many campaigns you can afford for the year.
- Select complimentary channels. The cost-per-thousand will vary with each channel, but the overall mix is what will be measured. Choose a combination of tactics that are both effective in communicating your message and add overall lift to the campaign. Be sure to invest enough in each channel to make them effective.
- Do not forget to include the cost of creative production. There is the cost of the channel and the cost to build the ads.
Evaluate Each Channel
Besides comparing the CPM of each channel, weigh in on the impact and effectiveness of the type of ad within each channel. For example, video may cost more, but you are more likely to need less frequency and able to communicate more about your brand through that medium.
- How much of your target audience is each channel?
- What is the cost-per-thousand to reach that target audience?
- How much of that audience can you afford to reach?
- What frequency will you be able to afford?
- Is the type of ad the most effective?
Overall, you’ll want to have a frequency of at least 10x with a brand awareness campaign. (The old rule of thumb was 3x, but we have moved out of the dark ages of traditional media and consumers are being hit with countless ads (noise) each day.) Historically, print has been the most expensive, then TV, cable, radio, digital. Within each of these channels, the CPM can go up, depending on what type of targeting you choose. Usually, the more specific, the more it will cost you. (If more expensive means you hit your intended audience without waste, then that is a better decision than buying a high volume of impressions that are targeting people that don’t fit your target.)
Have the Right Expectation
If you are launching a completely unique idea or service, you have the potential to become known more quickly. When going to market with a product or service similar to what’s already in the market, you may have to invest more to break through the noise already being created by your competitors in your category.
- Use public relations. There is a great story behind every brand. PR can be one of the most powerful channels of an awareness campaign.
- Provide great customer experiences. This is what will earn you the most credibility (referrals, testimonials, and positive reviews).
- Establish a partner or affiliate network.
- Create interesting and shareable content.
- Educate your audience.
- Give something away for free.
- Spend the necessary amount of money and time.
- Do annual customer research and make changes based on the feedback.