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A guide to building brand awareness online

Brand awareness underpins your entire marketing strategy. It describes the degree of consumer recognition of your product or service and will usually involve qualities that help to make your brand distinct.

A critical means through which you define, establish and build brand awareness now happens online. Getting it right could be the key to the overall success of your business.

What exactly is brand awareness, and how do you go about building it online?

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness refers to the level of familiarity your target audience has with your brand. In other words, how well do they recognise, and to a degree understand, what your brand is all about?

Brands with high awareness find it easier to market their products and services and can foster strong degrees of brand loyalty. Brands with extremely high levels of brand awareness can even shape popular culture. Do you vacuum or Hoover your house for instance? Do you use a search engine to find information or do you Google it?  While that level of brand awareness is rare and will be beyond most businesses, the principle is still the same.

Brand awareness can seem like something of a vague concept and one that’s hard to nail down.  It can be difficult to measure and quantify, but if you’ve managed to develop high levels of positive brand awareness within your target audience your business is likely to be growing.

Despite the fact it can be difficult to measure, brand awareness is incredibly important when it comes to creating the right foundation for your business to grow.

Why is brand awareness so important?

Brand awareness helps to foster trust in your products and services and that trust fosters loyalty. Once a consumer has made an emotional connection to your brand, they’re much more likely to make repeat purchases. Your product will be the one they reach for without thinking.

Fostering brand awareness makes it easier for people to connect with your brand name, giving your brand a personality. Brand awareness provides channels for people to feedback about your product and allows you to tell an evolving story about your brand, its ideals, standards and motivations. It adds a human element to your products and services, mirroring how we relate to the people and places that we love and feel loyal to.

Brand awareness also helps to shape and build brand equity. This is determined by consumer experiences and the overall perception of the brand. If the experience is positive, this will create positive brand equity, the same applies to negative experiences. A brand awareness strategy helps to foster positive associations.

Once you’ve established high levels of brand awareness a consumer will recognise and recall your brand without assistance. This will help them to make a purchase and choose your products and services over similar brands. It not only creates loyalty among your customers, but it also encourages them to recommend your brand to family and friends.

What steps can you take to help increase your brand awareness?

Building strong brand awareness with your target audience doesn’t happen by accident. Nor is it the result of a single advertisement or one-off marketing campaign. It is, in fact, the result of a range of multiple actions that form part of a much broader and more cohesive strategy.

You can’t purchase a few Facebook ads and expect that to do all the work for you. While that may be one way to promote a particular product or service, it’s unlikely to do much for your overall brand awareness.

So what steps should you take to help foster a strong brand awareness? To begin with, you need to know what your brand is all about.

Define your brand

It sounds simple, but if you can’t define your brand you can’t help other people becomes aware of it.  Defining your brand should be strategic and intentional and built on a number of key components.

Firstly, begin with your unique value proposition. What is it that sets your business apart from your competitors? Do you have a particular approach to customer service and are you more available than your competitors? Do you source your ingredients or materials from somewhere unique? Is the driving motivation of your business shaped by a particular ethical or worldview?

What is it that makes your business stand out from the competition? What is the story that motivated you to set up and run your business and what values have shaped the decisions you’ve made about its development?

These kinds of questions will help you identify your unique brand proposition. Understanding this brand proposition will also help you better identify and understand your target audience.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s easier to communicate simple and cohesive brand ideas than it is more complex messages, particularly online. Identify the key message about your business, products and services that you wish to communicate and then reinforce that message over and over again.

Be consistent across all your digital channels and website

Once you’ve defined what helps your brand stand out from the competition you need to communicate that online. Firstly, identify what digital channels you use or would like to use. If you already have a presence online then take a look at how you’re presenting yourself across those channels.

Are you using those channels to communicate a consistent brand identity? While it may be tempting to try and finesse your message for the perceived different requirements and audiences of different channels, it can be counterproductive.

Most of your customers and target audience will be using a variety of different digital channels, such as email, social media and websites. If your message across different channels, even on different social media platforms, varies then your message will be diluted and perhaps confusing. Someone who is engaging with your brand across a number of different media might begin to wonder which message is an accurate reflection of your business.

It’s important therefore for your company to maintain brand consistency across multiple channels. This will help to foster a positive customer experience while promoting a similar positive reputation for your business. A coherent brand image and identity improves the visibility of your business by making it easier for customers to recognise your brand, regardless of the platform.

Create a social media strategy

Social media is one of the most effective means by which to communicate with your target audience. Do it right and your brand can grow exponentially. Get it wrong and you could end up wasting time and resources without much in the way of return.

Too many companies launch into social media without thinking through what they’re trying to achieve. Not every platform is suitable for every business, and without a clear message and set of goals, you might end up badly missing the mark. While in most cases, a poorly thought out approach to social media might only lead to wasted time and public indifference. In some cases it can actually be counterproductive.

The power of social media to make and, in some cases, damage your business means that it shouldn’t be approached lightly. A social media strategy is an essential component of building your brand awareness online. It helps to identify your goals and then define how you will achieve them. It will outline the role and responsibilities to be shared across your team.

There are a number of steps you should take to create a coherent and effective social media strategy to help you build brand awareness online. These include:

  • Choose social media marketing goals that align with business objectives
  • Learn everything you can about your audience
  • Get to know your competition
  • Do a social media audit
  • Set up accounts and improve profiles
  • Find inspiration for new content
  • Create a social media content calendar
  • Create compelling content
  • Track performance and adjust your strategy accordingly

By taking a methodical and well-thought-out approach to social media you can maximise the impact it has on brand awareness.

Develop a content marketing strategy

As with social media, your approach to creating content should be considered and targeted.  This is a plan in which you use content, be that audio, visual, or written, to achieve your business goals. A successful content strategy will attract your target audience as they move through different stages of the funnel, and ensure they stay engaged and loyal after a purchase.

In this instance, a key business goal is increasing brand awareness. A content strategy that is geared towards brand awareness may focus on the intelligent use of SEO to help increase your website’s visibility on search engine results pages. This should, in turn, help to drive traffic to your products and services.

Key questions to consider when developing a content marketing strategy include:

  • Who will be reading your content?
  • What problems will you solve for your audience?
  • What makes your brand unique?
  • What content formats will you use and how?
  • What platforms will you use?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities within your team for the delivery of content?

Track and measure the success of your efforts

The effectiveness of a brand awareness strategy needs to be measured. This will help you to modify and refine your strategy going forward. You can do this through a variety of means including;

  • Study growth in direct traffic the more people who remember your brand name, the more likely they are to search for it directly.
  • Measure and study referral traffic another metric to study will be the amount and quality of referral traffic. Referral traffic should be increasing, as well as ensuring that traffic is relevant to your website.
  • Track your earned media value this is the media attention and coverage you get without the need to pay for it. You can use social tracking tools to find out when, where and how often you have been mentioned. These tools will often assign a monetary value to your mentions which allows you to easily see if they’re increasing overall.
  • Track your share of voice you can track your organic share of voice by analysing your most important keywords in relation to your main competitors. Similarly, you can track your share of social media mentions in relation to your key competitors.
  • Track your backlinks keep recording the number of backlinks you have secured for your website or content, both paid for and organic. Are these relevant and increasing over time?
  • Social media metrics how many followers do you have across your social media platforms and are they engaging with your content through likes, shares and positive comments?
  • Surveys directly ask your audience through your website, social media or emails what they know and think about your brand.

Be consistent

Consistency is key to a successful brand awareness campaign. This is part of a company’s ability to maintain communication and positioning in line with its values as well as the elements that make up its overall identity. Striving for a consistent brand message across social media and content is vital if your brand awareness strategy is to prove effective.

It’s important to remember that brand awareness is not a one-off marketing event, but an ongoing process that communicates the story of your business and what makes it different. It will by necessity evolve and grow, and in some instances, a failing strategy may require radical revision, but in nearly all cases there should be a consistent thread running throughout everything you do.

Dawn Creative can help you find, develop and grow your brand. Contact us today to find out how to outshine your competition.

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