The general marketplace of goods and services as we know it is a crowded and often confusing dimension for the average consumer. What makes one product seemingly leap from the shelves into a shopping cart while a competing product sits idle? That would be the by-product of great branding.
Brand awareness, brand development and even brand extension all play a role in creating the blueprint that will guide a consumer from curiosity to closing the sale.
Brand awareness is simply the mind space that a company or product owns inside our head. There are a variety of ways a company can imprint their brand to be remembered later at a critical purchasing juncture. This is the essence of branding. The brand story is the most important piece of the puzzle that comes together to create brand awareness.
A great story is more than the sum of bulleted features and benefits on a website and in printed materials. Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer of Virgin Group said, “The best brands are built on great stories.” If you don’t have a great story to tell, your brand becomes another commodity in the sea of sameness. Take Starbucks as an example. They didn’t set out just to sell an overpriced cup of coffee to the masses. They sought to bring a real sense of connection to people, who by the way enjoyed a great cup of coffee. It’s evident in the Starbucks mission statement: to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. With more than 18,000 stores in 62 countries, Starbucks is making good on their promise.
When a brand is strong and well known among constituents and has a high degree of consumer awareness it’s considered a household name. Companies spend a considerable amount of time and energy measuring brand awareness in a number of different ways including:
Impressions — with traditional advertising, measuring impressions or views in television for example was done in GRPs or gross rating points. This method quantifies impressions as a percentage of the population reached rather than in absolute numbers reached. The digital world is a bit more precise when it comes to measuring impressions because you can tell how many customers actually clicked on your display ad. You can also measure impressions related to a user’s location, search engine preference and social media interaction.
Customer Engagement — when measuring customer engagement many marketers miss the boat by analyzing at a granular level things like website page views or emails — essentially any content you put out to be interpreted by existing or potential customers. These days, customers interact with information about a brand on a variety of platforms, not in silos, so it’s better to look at the entire customer experience as a whole when attempting to measure true customer engagement.
Reach — this is simply the totality of how many customers you are touching with your content.
Digital Brand Awareness Measurement Tools
Using Google Analytics is a great way to track how strong your brand is in the digital space. It will tell you how many people know about your site including new visitors or those who have had a previous engagement with your brand. Best part? It’s free and has several data points to help you figure out how much your brand is driving traffic to your website.
Using a high-end algorithm, this helpful site lets you monitor how strong your social media presence is across multiple platforms. You can easily track and measure what people have said about your company or a product in real time, and across multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google and more.
There are a few different things you can analyze using LinkedIn Analytics. If you have a group, you can see how it’s performing and get a snapshot of your demographic audience. You’ll be able to tell career, job function, location and industry information. This tells you if the people in your group are the right type of members you want. You can also use this information to create buyer personas, to better help you target in the future and raise consumer awareness.
What is a brand? The American Marketing Association defines a brand as the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” Brand identity is the reputation your brand has which is made up of a variety of attributes, values, passions and strengths. It’s easiest to think of a brand in terms of a person. What does this person like? What values do they hold dear? How do they interact with others?
Developing a brand is a process that sets out to define what your brand stands for, starting with a mission or vision statement. Some considerations when constructing your mission statement are, how is your brand different that its competitors? What is the most important thing it offers consumers, beyond simple features and benefits? Referring back to the Starbucks example from earlier, it was much more than a cup of coffee Starbucks aimed to provide its customers, it was about forging real connections.
The next stage of brand development is coming up with the essence of the brand, or its soul. It is best described with one, impactful word and gets to the heart of the emotional connection your brand makes with its audience. Disney is magical, Nike is inspirational, Apple is friendly and approachable. A big thing to note here is that for brand essence to truly make a meaningful connection it must be authentic, credible and ultimately believable.
A brand extension is leveraging the strength of an existing brand or product into an entirely new category. A good example of this is Colgate® who decided to tackle more than just toothpaste by extending their products into pain relieving pastes and a rinse for minor mouth irritations. With this particular type of product extension, Colgate is merely continuing the consumer experience within their defined space. Since the brand is already established, the name alone can drive customers to try the new product, rather than having to invest a lot of money to drive consumer awareness towards the new brand. A line extension conversely is when a brand introduces a modified version of an existing product. For example, “diet” or “cherry” versions of a cola line.
A brand will introduce a line extension for a number of reasons including the need to breath new life into a product. It also enables companies to tap into new markets, because of the newfound diversity in their offerings. The thing to remember with any brand extension is that the new products are a direct reflection on an existing brand. If they fail, the brand will suffer from their demise and consumer awareness will also suffer.
When a brand has been carefully crafted, has an interesting story to tell and that story resonates with consumers, a brand is well on its way to higher sales figures and return business. Just remember, in today’s real time, on demand world consumers expect a brand to really bring something to the table. Building a brand that connects to your customers requires a creative approach, strategic thinking, and the right messages to target customers at the most appropriate time and place.
Consumer awareness is the extent to which customers are familiar with your product or service. It’s so much more than the sum of a logo, tagline, packaging or ad campaign. Consumer awareness is the essence of what your brand is, what it promises and what it delivers.