Brand Recognition is the extent to which the general public (or an organization's target market) is able to identify a brand by its attributes. Brand recognition is most successful when people can state a brand without being explicitly exposed to the company's name, but rather through visual signifiers like logos, slogans and colors.
Effectiveness of Brand Recognition
If brand recognition is done correctly, your product should be recognized even without using its name. The goal is to get potential customers to recognize the product instantly without requiring much effort. For example, can you think of the name of a restaurant that is symbolized by golden arches or a computer company identified by a particular fruit? In fact, companies will often engage in market research in order to test brand recognition.
Measuring Brand Recognition 
Measuring your company’s brand recognition and awareness in the market helps you determine several data points about your brand’s health:
- How familiar are consumers with your company, product or service? (Awareness)
- What attributes or visual elements do they associate with your brand? (Recognition)
- Is your brand “top of mind” in a specific category, or is it being edged out by the competition? (Awareness)
- How effective are your advertising campaigns? (Recognition)
Levels of Brand Recognition
There are said to be 5 levels of brand recognition:
- Brand Rejection: If someone associates your brand with something negative, they will purposely avoid your product. Have you ever experienced bad service somewhere and swore you’d never return to that chain? Have any of your customers said that about your business? Create a logo and slogan that is filled with great benefits to your customer and put that on everything. If public opinion is turning against you or your product, launch a campaign to alter it.
- Brand Non-Recognition: This is where your customers simply don’t recognize your brand… probably because it is not clearly differentiated from competitors. Boldly state your product or service’s benefits. Always include the full trademark name whenever you refer to your product. Be willing to create brand names for your products or services, just like you’ve done for your own business. Find the differences in value between your product and your competitors and highlight that difference mercilessly.
- Brand Recognition: This is a good stage to aim for if you don’t have any recognition at all. Brand recognition will help people lean toward your product when given the choice between your product and one they have never heard of. At the same time, though remember that your competitors are also working on brand recognition, which means their brand could be more recognizable. Continue to differentiate yourself and be sure to add value to your product in order to get to the next stage.
- Brand Preference: This is where customers – given a choice between two brands – will choose yours over someone else’s. It often is the result of a sense of differentiation and that your product or service uniquely serves their needs. As well, you can be sure that any value-added products or services you include help them to choose yours over your competitors. Even though this is a great stage to be in, it’s not the final stage. The stage you absolutely want to be in with your brand is…
- Brand Loyalty: This is where customers will choose your brand time and time again, even if they experience the occasional poor service or if another product comes along that seems to be better suited to their needs. To achieve brand loyalty, you need to provide a product that is highly differentiated, with plenty of value added, but also you need to offer them remarkable service at a level they will not get anywhere else. Providing this level of service will ensure that they will never switch.
Brand Recognition Strategy
Getting your brand recognized is about the messages you send to customers, where you transmit them and repeating a consistent message. Regularly refining your marketing materials will help your brand adapt with the changing market place.
- Messaging: All communications, advertising materials and websites coming from your company should distinctly embody your brand in the same manner. According to an article on Entrepreneur website entitled “Sending the Right Message,” your brand’s core message must be simple, direct and consistent among all marketing channels. Further, your brand must convey what your company does, what it offers and how you are unique in the marketplace.
- Logos: Creating a recognizable logo helps your brand stick in the consumer’s mind. According to the article “Logo Design Basics” on Entrepreneur website, a good logo should be simple and define your brand. When making a logo, it is advisable to study typefaces and color. Although it may not be apparent, both elements create an image for consumers. For example, angular shapes and fonts are often used in the high-tech industry to convey innovation, and more rounded shapes are used in the service industry to reflect creativity and friendliness. Although your logo should look good in black, color can increase its recognition. It is best to choose only two colors, which should be unique to your company, convey your brand and appeal to your audience. Although trendy colors work well on young audiences, more classic colors have better lasting power for the average person.
- Informal Exposure: Informally educating and entertaining your customers will get your brand recognized. According to the Entrepreneur article titled “Do More with Less,” getting involved with social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, can boost the recognition and distribution of your brand. Further, offering industry advice in blogs, news articles, industry publications, webinars, trade show or on social media sites, gives your brand credibility and boosts recognition.
- Repetition: Repeating your brand and its message to consumers is a vital trigger for recognition, according to the article titled “Creating Vocal Brand Awareness,” on Entrepreneur website. The process of repetition starts by regularly positioning your brand in places where core customers frequent, whether that is online, in print or in-person. To retain recognition, your core branding messages must stay in place, while you feed more unique tidbits of information to customers.
- Customer Service: For small businesses, word-of-mouth advertising goes a long way and it’s a free. According to Dummies.com article titled “Developing Brand Recognition,” serving customers efficiently, politely and inline with your brand’s image will create positive, credible recognition for your brand.
- Considerations: Brands need to start unique, stay unique and stay relevant to consumers, according to the Dummies.com article titled “Noting a few Truths About Branding.” You can achieve this by studying your audience and reacting accordingly. Also, make sure employees are always reflecting the company’s current brand when interacting with customers.
The Value of Brand Recognition
The value of brand recognition can’t be understated. In many ways, names and brands are the most valuable thing a company has. The value of a memorable name for brand recognition is clear from the way that people speak. For companies that first create a market or become the first to dominate it, the brand name can be synonymous with the generic product itself. Most people use the brand name Band Aid, whenever they need an ‘adhesive bandage strip’ or Frisbee for a ‘toy flying saucer, usually made of plastic, that is used for toss games’. This is more than just interesting trivia. When a person is given a shopping list that says “Band Aids” or a kid tells a relative they want a “Frisbee” they are far more likely to buy that brand name than a generic equivalent. Similarly, a brand name can drastically change the meaning of sentence. To a child, “Let’s go get a burger” and “Let’s go to McDonald’s” are too completely different things. Research has suggested that many brand loyalties start when consumers are children. In one UK study of children between six and 11 years old, the respondents correctly identified 90 percent of the logos associated with foods and drinks as well as international products like Apple and Adidas. The knowledge of the brand also affected their perception of other qualities. As any parent could attest to, the children claimed that store-branded versions of products weren’t as good as the brand names. “They don’t have the proper recipe and make it disgusting,” said one of the children in the study. The power of brand names is so important that it surpasses rational thought. In the UK study one child commented, “They do Frosted Flakes instead of Frosties, but they’re not as good.” Unbeknownst to the child, Frosted Flakes is just one of the international names of Frosties. So the child thought the exact same product tasted different on the basis of name alone (presumably, the child wasn’t shown the box art since they both have the same mascot). In many ways, brand recognition is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Technological advantages will be improved upon by others, as will advantages in distribution and marketing. But brand name is something that can’t be duplicated. According to Aswath Damodaran, 80 percent of Coca-Cola’s value is in its century-old brand name. He cites a comparison of the top five brand names in 1925 and the top five brand names 2000 showed three companies had managed to stay on top for 75 years. The only competitive advantage that lasts that long is brand recognition. What all of these examples show is that there is a value in brand. At its height, a brand can become so valuable that people are willing to pay more for the brand name. But long before that point, there are other reasons for encouraging brand recognition. When presented with two options, consumers will gravitate toward the one they heard of before in the absence of any other factors. And rather than charge more for a brand name, a company can establish itself as the low-cost alternative for usually expensive items. The importance of brand names has been known for decades, but in the 21st Century, the time has come to move beyond promotional keychains and pens (though these are still good tactics to use in a comprehensive marketing strategy for a local business). The value of brand recognition is one of the reasons why business owners need to embrace social media as part of their internet marketing strategy. People research companies on social media, so having a page with up-to-date content is important. In fact, 66 percent of teens and young adults will look up a business if they see their friends have checked in or liked the business.
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