Amazon. Apple. McDonald’s. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the power of their branding and the scale of global brand awareness they’ve created for their companies.
As a startup, creating brand awareness might be way down on your to-do list while you focus on more immediate things like sales and building a recurring revenue stream. But should you be bumping it up the list a little as part of your growth strategy? And how do you even measure brand awareness to see what’s working?
Let’s dive in and take a look at the importance of establishing brand awareness, how to create awareness for your startup, and discuss some of the ways you can measure the success of your efforts.
Why is brand awareness important?
Brand awareness is somewhat of a vague concept. It’s hard to pin down exactly what it is, and even harder to try and measure it. Despite this, brand awareness is one of the most important drivers of business growth and it’s something that needs to be created and nurtured as your brand develops.
Brand awareness and trust are two of the main factors involved in customer purchases. Social proof, referrals, and reviews all help motivate people to make the decision to sign up or buy from you. When prospective customers are asking for product advice on Facebook, or searching on a forum, it’s important that your brand name is on everyone’s lips to guide those potential buyers straight to your door.
A Nielsen survey shows 92% of customers trust referrals from people they know, so the more brand awareness you can create, the better it is for your bottom line. If you can find ways to get in front of your ideal customers and make your brand name seem like it’s everywhere, this will go a long way towards embedding your company’s products or services into people’s minds.
How to create brand awareness
Like everything else in marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating brand awareness for your business. What works for other startups and SaaS companies might not work for you, so it’s important to test and measure different strategies to find the ones that give you results.
Build relationships on social media
Business isn’t all about selling. By focusing on networking, building relationships, and engaging with your audience, you can create a culture of trust and interest with your brand at the center. This is why speaking with your target audience and showcasing your company culture on social media is one of the best ways to grow your brand awareness.
The primary resources you need are time, patience, and a well thought out content strategy.
Social media has the advantage of being completely free and there are platforms to suit the needs of every industry. Feeling businessy? Go to LinkedIn, where longer form B2B content thrives. Is your company better with short form, snappy and witty comments? Try Twitter. Got a product that lends itself to highly visual posts? Instagram is for you. And that’s only for starters. Social platforms are growing – and that doesn’t even take into account the many targeted forums that are visited by thousands of your potential customers each day.
Tell your brand story
Founder stories make for excellent brand building. Everyone loves hearing about ideas turning into struggles, then into eventual success. It’s been a winning formula since the beginning of time. Now it’s easier than ever to tell your story. Guest posts on industry blogs, running a podcast, and publishing insightful content your own company blog can all help build brand engagement and increase your reach.
Storytelling also helps build a personality for your brand – which makes it likable and relatable, and, in turn, builds trust in potential customers.
Give away free stuff!
Everyone loves free things. Free trials, freemium, free content, and free resources can go a long way towards getting your brand out into the wider market. (RELATED: How to Improve SaaS Free Trial Conversion Rates.)
Become a sponsor
If you’ve got some spare capital lying around, or you can find a way to partner with big brands and events in the interest of getting your logo seen by the masses, this can be a strategic move to increase brand awareness. Everyone loves free stickers, t-shirts, and swag of all kinds at business events, and with a bit of creativity from your marketing department, this can often have big payoffs for you in terms of brand building.
How to measure brand awareness
Brand awareness is somewhat of a contentious subject in marketing. It’s often viewed as a bunch of vanity metrics and abstractions that don’t shed any light on your growth and have no connection to your ROI.
Bryan Sharp, author of How Brands Grow, disagrees. He states that one of the most important factors for getting someone to buy from you is their ability to recall your product.
Once you’ve decided to put some brand awareness strategies into action, the questions you’re probably asking yourself are: “how do I measure brand awareness?” and “how do I know if my efforts are working?” Sadly, there’s no tidy brand awareness metric you can track, so you’re going to need to think in broader terms.
Website traffic metrics let you see how many people have either searched for your brand or gone directly to your URL to check it out. You can also see how your marketing has impacted your target audience’s decision to visit your site, and how long they’re spending on the site once they get there.
Setting up regular customer surveys for consumer research is a great way to get feedback on your brand. Free survey software (e.g. Typeform and SurveyMonkey) makes it easy for you to ask questions about your brand, so you can check how well your brand awareness campaigns are performing.
The downside to customer surveys is that if you’re not asking the right questions, you can run into what’s called a response bias, which might affect your results.
Google Alerts is a fast and easy way to get notified when people mention your company. If you are name dropped in the media or on third-party sites, you’ll know about it and can respond appropriately, if at all.
Net promoter score
If you’re a startup that pays attention to your Net Promoter Score (NPS), then you’ll find that a high score correlates to increased brand awareness. If customers are giving you excellent NPS ratings, there’s a good chance they’re helping to spread the word about your brand by word-of-mouth and in online spaces, which serves to increase the visibility and recollection of your company.
Social media is the perfect place to find out how people are talking about your brand.
Every mention you get on a social platform increases your reach percentages. If you find a popular influencer in your space has mentioned you, this means it’s possible that your brand name has been seen by hundreds and possibly thousands of people.
The more mentions you get, and the more you get mentioned by people with large follower bases, the greater the reach of your brand awareness. While you’ll be hoping that all your mentions are positive, it’s proven that even negative views on your brand can increase your awareness in the marketplace. In fact, as your brand grows, it’s nearly impossible to avoid naysayers. The reality is both positive and negative feedback will help with a prospect’s buying decision.
Checking in on social media regularly and tracking changes in this data over time can give you a clearer picture of whether your brand awareness is increasing. Tracking your changes also helps you to see any spikes in mentions that you can tie back to something concrete – such as a particular blog post, campaign, or partnership. This can enable you to create new and effective methods based on what’s working in your marketing to drive your brand awareness to new heights.
Building a strong foundation for your brand
Creating brand awareness for your startup helps your name and product become embedded in people’s minds. When someone is looking for a particular solution for their life or business, it’s important that they can recall your brand as a first step to solving their problems.
By understanding brand awareness and how to nurture this for your audience, you can build a strong foundation for your brand that is able to grow and evolve alongside your business.
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