Brand Awareness is a marketing term that describes the degree of consumer recognition of a product by its name. Creating brand awareness is a key step in promoting a new product or reviving an older brand. Ideally, awareness of the brand may include the qualities that distinguish the product from its competition.
Elements & Types of Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is the ability of a customer to identify a particular brand. It is basically what all a customer remembers about the company’s offering. Brand awareness can be how a customer recollects various elements about a brand like logo, product type, slogan, advertisement, brand name etc.
Brand awareness is basically of the following types:
- Brand recall: Customers are able to identify the brand themselves without any aid, known as unaided recall.
- Brand recognition: In this type of brand awareness, aided recall helps customers remember a particular brand.
- Top of the mind brand: Any brand which a customer recalls without any help and is the first thing on their mind is top of the mind brand.
The Importance of Building Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is all about what the mind state your ideal clients enter when they see or hear your company’s name. It helps you to:
- Promote your business
- Successfully introduce new products or services
- Build your business reputation
- Differentiate yourself from competitors
- Find and retain loyal customers.
Keeping tabs on where your business stands in the eyes of the buying public can go a long way toward becoming the brand of choice. If your business doesn’t have a strong brand identity or brand voice, people won’t think much of your business, as they don’t have much to work with. It is extremely important to identify and strengthen your business brand so that you can harness it for success.
Brand awareness is important when launching new products and services, and it drives consumers’ decisions when differentiating between competing companies. It encourages repeat purchases and leads to an increase in market share and incremental sales. Brand awareness is also very important to businesses that are marketing proactively through social media sites.
- Being Proactive Through Technology and Social Media: Because we are in an era of constant advancements in technology, brand awareness is especially important for every business. This is because people always have some type of computer in their hand, whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, or an actual laptop/desktop, which means they are able to quickly communicate with others in a matter of seconds. This could either work in favor of, or against your business. It all comes down to how you go about using it and adapting to these many technological advances. Being proactive in brand building through social media will lead to a better brand experience for existing customers while turning prospective customers into loyal brand followers.
- The Drive For Repeat Purchases: According to ISPO news, “90 percent of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. We use mental shortcuts to skip the process and avoid being overwhelmed by the number of available options from competitors.” With a good marketing campaign focused on your brand and business model, you will more effectively narrow in on your target audience and encourage them to feel connected to and empowered by your brand. Brand awareness affects perceptions and attitudes, which drive brand choice and even brand loyalty. This means that without brand awareness, repeat purchases are less likely.
- Increased Market Share and Sales: By building brand awareness, you can also increase your market share. If you are the first to the punch in getting your brand fused into customers’ minds, you will raise the barrier to other companies that are trying to enter the market. According to the Strategic Planning Institute, “Aggressive marketing and advertising, are the key factors in increasing brand awareness and converting awareness into market share.” Brand awareness does not have a financial value on its own, but it is part of the collective marketing effort that drives incremental sales.
There are many ways you can go about boosting brand awareness amongst consumers and making a brand mean something to consumers when they look at it is just as important as a sales pitch. Your marketing strategies may vary year-to-year, but a consistent brand message will help make your business top-of-mind when your target market is comparison shopping.
Brand Awareness Models
Brand awareness is a standard feature of a group of models known as the hierarchy of effects models. Hierarchical models are linear sequential models built on an assumption that consumers move through a series of cognitive and affective stages, beginning with brand awareness (or category awareness) and culminating in the purchase decision. In these models, advertising and marketing communications operate as an external stimulus and the purchase decision is a consumer response.
A number of hierarchical models can be found in the literature including DAGMAR and AIDA. In a survey of more than 250 papers, Vakratsas and Ambler (1999) found little empirical support for any of the hierarchies of effects. In spite of that, some authors have argued that hierarchical models continue to dominate theory, especially in the area of marketing communications and advertising.
The hierarchy of effects developed by Lavidge in the 1960s is one of the original hierarchical models. It proposes that customers progress through a sequence of six stages from brand awareness through to the purchase of a product.
Stage 1: Awareness - The consumer becomes aware of a category, product or brand (usually through advertising) ↓ Stage 2: Knowledge - The consumer learns about the brand (e.g. sizes, colours, prices, availability etc) ↓ Stage 3: Liking - The consumer develops a favourable/unfavourable disposition towards the brand ↓ Stage 4: Preference - The consumer begins to rate one brand above other comparable brands ↓ Stage 5: Conviction - The consumer demonstrates a desire to purchase (via inspection, sampling, trial) ↓ Stage 6: Purchase - The consumer acquires the product
Hierarchical models have been widely adapted and many variations can be found, however, all follow the basic sequence which includes Cognition (C)- Affect (A) - Behaviour (B) and for this reason, they are sometimes known as C-A-B models. Some of the more recent adaptations are designed to accommodate the consumer's digital media habits and opportunities for social influence.
Selected alternative hierarchical models follow:
- Basic AIDA model: Awareness→ Interest→ Desire→ Action 
- Modified AIDA model: Awareness→ Interest→ Conviction →Desire→ Action 
- AIDAS Model: Attention → Interest → Desire → Action → Satisfaction 
- AISDALSLove model: Awareness→ Interest→ Search →Desire→ Action → Like/dislike→ Share → Love/ Hate 
- Lavidge et al's Hierarchy of Effects: Awareness→ Knowledge→ Liking→ Preference→ Conviction→ Purchase
- DAGMAR Model: Awareness → Comprehension → Attitude/ Conviction → Action 
- Rossiter and Percy's communications effects: Category Need → Brand Awareness → Brand Preference (Ab) → Purchase Intent→ Purchase Facilitation 
Marketing Implications of hierarchical models
It should be evident that brand awareness constitutes just one of six stages that outline the typical consumer's progress towards a purchase decision. While awareness is a necessary precondition for a purchase, awareness alone cannot guarantee the ultimate purchase. Consumers may be aware of a brand, but for different reasons, may not like it or may fail to develop a preference for that brand. Hence, brand awareness is an indicator of sales performance, but does not account for all sales performance. For these reasons, marketers use a variety of metrics, including cognitive, affective and behavioral variables, to monitor a brand's market performance.
As consumers move through the hierarchy of effects (awareness→ knowledge→ liking→ preference→ conviction→ purchase), they rely on different sources of information to learn about brands. While main media advertising is useful for creating awareness, its capacity to convey long or complex messages is limited. In order to acquire more detailed knowledge about a brand, consumers rely on different sources such as product reviews, expert opinion, word-of-mouth referrals and brand/ corporate websites. As consumers move closer to the actual purchase, they begin to rely on more personal sources of information such as recommendations from friends and relatives or the advice of sales representatives. For example, the opinion of an influential blogger might be enough to shore up preference/conviction while a salesperson might be necessary to close the actual purchase.
All hierarchical models indicate that brand awareness is a necessary precondition to brand attitude or brand liking, which serves to underscore the importance of creating high levels of awareness as early as possible in a product or brand life-cycle. Hierarchical models provide marketers and advertisers with basic insights about the nature of the target audience, the optimal message and media strategy indicated at different junctures throughout a product's life cycle. For new products, the main advertising objective should be to create awareness with a broad cross-section of the potential market. When the desired levels of awareness have been attained, the advertising effort should shift to stimulating interest, desire or conviction. The number of potential purchasers decreases as the product moves through the natural sales cycle in an effect likened to a funnel. Later in the cycle, and as the number of prospects becomes smaller, the marketer can employ more tightly targeted promotions such as personal selling, direct mail and email directed at those individuals or sub-segments likely to exhibit a genuine interest in the product or brand.
Measuring Brand Awareness
How do you know if your brand awareness efforts are working? How do you know if you need to change direction, top the competition, or fix a crisis? Just like any other marketing metric, you measure it. While brand awareness can’t be measured in the traditional, you can still review activities and metrics that’ll help you gauge where your brand stands in terms of popularity and consumer awareness. Here are a few ways to gauge your brand awareness and learn where you can tweak your efforts:
Quantitative Brand Awareness Measures
These numbers can help you paint the overall picture of your brand awareness. To measure quantitatively, check out these metrics:
- Direct traffic. Firstly, direct traffic is the result of people intentionally typing in your URL and visiting your website. Your direct traffic number will tell you how much your marketing is prompting people to visit your website. This is an important metric, as many consumers today discover brands through social media, advertisements, or by typing in keywords related to your brand or product. When consumers go directly to your site, it means they were aware of your brand beforehand.
- Site traffic numbers. This number just reflects overall site traffic, which will tell you how much of the general internet population is checking out your content and spending time with your brand. It won’t quite tell you where people came from, but that doesn’t matter, because they’re aware of your brand enough to check it out.
- Social engagement. Engagement can refer to followers, likes, retweets, comments, and more. It’s a reflection of how many people are aware of your brand and socialize with it, as well as how impactful your content is. For instance, sites like Sparktoro can give you a specific score for your Twitter impact.
Qualitative Brand Awareness Measures
This step is where your brand awareness “score” gets a little murky. But these tactics can still help you gauge who and how many people are aware of your brand. To measure qualitatively, try:
- Searching Google and setting up Google Alerts. Doing this gets you up to speed with how your brand is being talked about online. It will alert you to any news or mentions by third-party press. As your brand grows, its internet real estate will expand beyond your website, so keep an eye on that.
- Social listening. Social listening is monitoring social media management tools for organic mentions and engagement. Who’s tagging your brand, mentioning it in comments, or using your hashtag in their posts? These tools can help you discover that. And the more your audience is discussing your brand on social media, the more they’re aware of it.
- Running brand awareness surveys. This process involves getting direct feedback from your customers and audience and can be incredibly helpful with not only understanding who knows of your brand but also what they think of it. You can release surveys through SurveyMonkey or TypeForm and share them on social media or directly with your customers. This guide will help you create and promote them.
These quantitative and qualitative metrics will help you understand your brand awareness among your audience and the general public. It’ll never be a perfect number, but keeping your pulse on this measure will help influence campaigns and stay connected to your audience. Regardless of how you gauge brand awareness for your company, avoid these common mistakes when measuring brand awareness.