While many businesses let brand awareness fall by the wayside in favor of lead generation strategies, the truth is that you need a healthy combination of both to be successful. It’s like a pizza—sure, the sauce, cheese, and toppings get all the glory, but without a really good crust, your pizza is just mediocre. Mediocre pizza is still pretty good, but you know you could be eating so much better.
This isn’t totally related, but I couldn’t help myself.
In the same way, if you’re not building strong brand awareness, the rest of your marketing suffers, too. It will still work, it just won’t be as good.
To put it in terms of another analogy, brand awareness helps you grease the wheels when it comes to getting new customers. When a person is already familiar with your business, they’re more likely to click on your ads, give you their information, or become a customer. In fact, one study found that when searching for a business, 82% of people clicked on a result from a brand they were familiar with.
So how do you increase brand awareness? Through a strong brand awareness strategy. In this post, we’ll be making you aware of:
- What brand awareness is
- Why brand awareness is important
- 14 brand awareness strategies to try
- Best brand awareness examples
Let’s get cooking!
What is a brand awareness strategy and why is it important?
Brand awareness refers to a person’s recognition of a specific business or brand. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a customer of that business or that they have any particular feelings about it—just that they’re aware the business or brand exists.
A brand awareness strategy refers to the marketing activities you run in order to build or increase brand awareness for your business.
Let’s explore some reasons a brand awareness strategy is important.
More people search for you
One of the benefits of a brand awareness strategy is that it piques the interest of potential customers, and they may search for you to learn more. For example, if you see a display ad for a dentist while you’re reading the local news online, you might not click the ad, but you may search for the dentist later that day.
In the same way, brand awareness strategies can increase the chances that people will search for you after seeing your ad or brand. In fact, our data found that 27% of consumers conduct a search for a business after seeing their display ad.
It helps your business stand out
A strong brand awareness strategy can help your business stand out among the sea of competition. If a person is choosing between your product or service and a pretty comparable product or service from another company, they’re likely going to go with the business that they’re most familiar with–or aware of.
It makes your other marketing more effective
You’ve probably heard that a person needs to see information about a business 7-10 times before taking an action. Without a brand awareness strategy, you’re hurting your chances that people will see your ad, your SEO result, or your social media post and actually take the next step to become a lead or a customer.
By investing in brand awareness alongside your lead generation strategies, you’re increasing the effectiveness of your marketing plan.
For example, we found that there was a 59% lift in conversions when users conducted a search related to a display ad. This speaks to the effectiveness of running brand awareness strategies to complement your other marketing strategies.
Related: Find out how to measure brand awareness here.
14 brand awareness strategies and examples
Now that you know why brand awareness is important, let’s talk about how to build brand awareness through specific brand awareness strategies and examples.
1. Create a strong brand
It’s hard to have a brand awareness strategy if you don’t have strong branding to start with. Many brand awareness strategies (which we’ll get into) rely on consumers recognizing your brand either by your logo, brand colors, or your brand voice. So before you can build brand awareness, you need to create a strong brand identity. This means creating a great small business logo, choosing your brand colors and fonts, outlining your brand tone, and focusing on brand consistency.
By keeping your small business branding consistent, you can start to build brand awareness that your potential customers will easily identify as belonging to your business.
Here’s a great brand awareness example: When you see this ad you probably know exactly what brand it’s for even without seeing a business name or the full logo:
McDonald’s has an easily-recognizable brand, so just by seeing a piece of the Golden Arch, their bright red color, and their typical font, you can figure out what brand this billboard is advertising.
While you may not get to that level of brand recognition, you can start to get there with your strong branding.
2. Encourage word-of-mouth marketing
One way to build brand awareness is to build a loyal following from your existing customers that encourages word-of-mouth marketing. While this isn’t a guarantee for your marketing plan, it is a way for you to organically build brand awareness.
Plus, people trust recommendations from their friends and family—so not only does word of mouth marketing build brand awareness, but it can also make your business seem more trustworthy and worth trying.
You can inspire word-of-mouth marketing by running a customer loyalty program that rewards your customers for each purchase or by creating a referral program that encourages your happy customers to tell their friends and family about your business in exchange for a reward or discount for both you and the person they refer.
Here’s one example of how a business used word of mouth marketing to increase brand awareness:
This business launched a referral program to encourage customers to refer their friends and family, which can build awareness (and help them get more customers!).
Related: Want to try a new strategy to get new customers? Learn about attraction marketing!
3. Stay active on social media
Social media is another great marketing channel for your brand awareness strategy. Not only can you increase brand awareness on social media with your current customers, but you can use it to get in front of new customers as well.
However, the social media landscape is filled with other brands and businesses, so you need to find ways to stand out and encourage engagement with your social media posts.
Another way you can do this is by making your social media pages a helpful resource for your customers—either by sharing useful information related to your business or even helpful local information such as upcoming events, nearby sales, and community features.
Here’s a brand awareness example from a vet sharing helpful pet dental tips:
The most important want to use this brand awareness strategy is to stay active and consistent. This gives you the best chance of increasing engagement and building brand awareness on social media.
4. Run social media ads
You can take your social media brand awareness strategy even further by putting a little budget behind it and running social media ads. Social media ads, like Facebook advertising, can help your business get seen by those who aren’t currently following you—expanding awareness for your business on social media.
Through Facebook advertising targeting, you can choose the exact audience you would want to reach—even targeting lookalike audiences, which are groups of people with attributes similar to your existing followers. This can help you increase brand awareness on social media with people who are most likely to become your customers.
Here’s a brand awareness example of a real estate business running Facebook advertising to reach potential clients:
Get real estate Facebook advertising tips here.
5. Do a social media contest
One more way to increase brand awareness on social media is to run a social media contest. Facebook contests and Instagram giveaways help you leverage your current follower base to get in front of new potential customers.
The best type of social media contest to run to build brand awareness is one where users have to be following your account and tag someone in the comment of your post in order to enter. This increases your followers on social media and increases the number of people who will see your post.
You can also run a social media contest where users need to reshare your post or tag you in one of their posts in order to enter—these each give you a way to get in front of your users’ audiences on their social sites.
Here’s an example of a business running a social media contest to increase brand awareness and get more followers on Instagram:
6. Create an email newsletter
Another brand awareness strategy that can help you stay top of mind with potential customers is an email newsletter. An email newsletter is typically a monthly or weekly email sent to subscribers with helpful information, updates about your business, and any promotions.
We outlined monthly email newsletter ideas you can use here, but the sky is the limit as far as what you include!
Just remember that an email newsletter is different than a sales email that’s all about promoting a sale or deal. You can certainly include information about sales or promotions in your newsletter, but the main focus should be to provide helpful information to your audience.
Here’s an example of a business using an email newsletter to increase brand awareness and stay top of mind with their subscribers:
7. Use display advertising…
One of the best brand awareness strategies you can use is display advertising. Display ads, also known as banner ads, show up on sites across the web at the top or side of the page as well as within content. This allows you to get your business in front of people as they’re spending time online.
One of the benefits of display advertising is that they are visual, which can help your business be remembered by users. In fact, people generally retain 65% of the information they learn three days after seeing it when it’s paired with an image. This is good news for building brand awareness with display ads!
Here’s an example of a brand awareness-building display ad:
8. …And retargeting
You can take your display advertising strategy even further by running retargeting, also known as remarketing. Retargeting involves showing display ads to users who have either visited your website or searched for you without taking the next step to become a customer. These ads can show on sites across the web as well as on social media as part of your social ads strategy.
You’re probably extremely familiar with this type of ad. Here’s an example: You visit a clothing store’s website, add a pair of shoes to your cart, and then decide to leave the site without completing a purchase. Later, you’re scrolling through Facebook or your local news site and see an ad for the same shoes at the same shop you abandoned earlier. It’s a sign! You click on the ad and check out.
Here’s a real-world example from a brand on Facebook:
While retargeting doesn’t always result in a conversion, it does help to increase brand awareness and can lead to latent conversions.
9. Bid on competitor keywords
Another brand awareness strategy that can help you get in front of a relevant audience is to bid on competitor keywords for your search ads. As you know, when you run search advertising, you typically bid on sets of keywords related to your business, and you might bid on your business name so you’re sure to show up when someone searches for you. But you can also bid on your competitors’ business names so your search ad will show up before any of their organic search results.
Sure, it’s a little sneaky, but it’s also a great way to build brand awareness. And you can also have a little fun with it to make your results extra memorable!
Here’s an example I recently stumbled across when searching for keyword research tool Ahrefs:
As you can see, SpyFu and Semrush each bid on Ahrefs’ brand name, which is why their PPC ads are showing above any organic results for Ahrefs. Semrush even used some playful ad copywriting.
(This is also why it’s so important to bid on your own business name as part of your local PPC strategy–so you’re showing up everywhere it counts!)
10. Try print advertising
Print advertising is still an incredibly effective type of advertising—not to mention a great brand awareness strategy. Print ads are the most trusted type of advertising, with 82% of readers saying they trust print ads when making a purchase decision. And people who read the newspaper are less frequently distracted, giving you an ideal audience to reach.
By running print ads, you can build awareness for your business with a highly engaged and local audience.
Here’s an example of a print ad we ran to build awareness for our brand!
11. Create branded content
Have you heard of branded content? This brand awareness strategy involves partnering with a local or national news outlet to place a piece of sponsored content on its site. This content is typically educational or helpful rather than advertorial and typically appears with a byline from your business.
This allows your business to reach local consumers with helpful information that can position you as a trusted expert while building awareness for your brand.
Here’s a branded content example from a home services business:
As you can see in this brand awareness example, this piece of content is part of the posts available on the Indy Star but is from a business representative.
12. Build a brand community
When you have a strong brand and loyal customers, you can easily build a brand community, which can help you increase customer satisfaction while also increasing brand awareness.
A brand community is a group of people who are loyal to your brand and who engage with both your business and other loyal customers. Many businesses build brand communities through social media by creating Facebook groups or encouraging discourse on their page through their posts. You can also cultivate a brand community by hosting customer meetups, sending special deals or email newsletters to a specific subset of your customers, and collecting customer feedback.
When you build a community of customers, you increase their loyalty to your businesses as well as the chances that they’ll spread the word about you to friends and family.
Here’s an example of a brand community from Starbucks:
Starbucks cultivates community within their locations but also encourages customer feedback, has a strong rewards program, and sells branded merchandise that all help customers feel like they’re part of a group.
13. Partner with related businesses
Partnering with a related business in your area can help you both build brand awareness. You could do this by co-hosting an event, agreeing to share each other’s posts on social media, or by running a special or promotion that combines your products or services. This gives your brand a way to get in front of their customers—and vice-versa.
Ideally, you’d want to choose a business that’s related to your business but isn’t a competitor. For example, a car dealership could partner with a car detailing business, or a vet could partner with a pet supply store.
Do some research around what businesses would work to partner with in your area and reach out to build a new connection and increase brand awareness for both your businesses!
Here’s an example of a local donut shop that partnered with a larger furniture store for a co-branded social media contest:
This allows both businesses to reach a new and wider audience to increase brand awareness on social media!
14. Host or sponsor an event or organization
Another way to build brand awareness in your local community is to host or sponsor an event or organization. Many events call for corporate sponsorships in exchange for your logo plastered all over the event. You could also sponsor an organization like a little league team or a Girl Scout troop.
This gives you extra exposure in your community and builds goodwill with your audience, which can increase the chances someone will do business with you down the line.
Here’s an example of a local business that sponsored a youth baseball team:
This allowed them to have their business name printed on the baseball jerseys to build brand awareness while supporting a local organization.
Create the best brand awareness strategy today
A brand awareness strategy is a must-have for your marketing plan. By investing in some (or all!) of these brand awareness strategies, you can get the word out about your business, build trust, and make your business name known.
Here are the top brand awareness strategies to try:
- Create a strong brand
- Encourage word of mouth marketing
- Stay active on social media
- Run social media ads
- Do a social media contest
- Create an email newsletter
- Use display advertising…
- …And retargeting
- Bid on competitor keywords
- Try print advertising
- Create branded content
- Build a brand community
- Partner with related businesses
- Host or sponsor an event or organization