Let’s do a little thought experiment.
Imagine you took a camera out onto the street in any city and randomly chose a person out of the crowd. You hit them with a little makeup, knock down the shine on their forehead, put them in a nice suit of clothes and then have them read a 30-second commercial urging people to call the number on the screen to hear a special message.
How many calls do you think you’ll get?
Now shoot the same commercial but substitute a well-known celebrity. It doesn’t matter who they are as long as their identity is a household name. How many calls do you suspect you’ll get now?
It’s probably a safe bet that you’ll get far more people calling at the urging of a well-known personality than some unknown schmoe off the street, even when they have no idea what they’re calling for.
Two things are happening here. The first is that the celebrity has brand awareness. People know who he or she is. They have a history with her. They associate specific qualities or values with her. There is an established baseline of trust. And so they’re far more willing to place the call blindly.
The other thing that’s happening is more interesting. When the stranger promises a special message, the message is genuinely unknown, because the viewer has no frame of reference. But when the celebrity makes the same offer, the viewer immediately begins filling in the blanks about what the message could be based on what they think they know about the celebrity. The viewer starts creating a narrative, in their minds, based on the celebrity’s existing brand awareness. And this narrative makes the offer far more enticing.
So, brand awareness not only motivates action, it contextualizes it. It makes people want to act and gives them good reasons why they should. This is why brand awareness is so important.
Brand Awareness in Marketing
For companies, brand awareness works in much the same way. For a company to gain any real market share at all, consumers or other businesses need to know that the brand exists. This is the most basic level of brand awareness.
In this case, people are familiar with the company’s name, and likely their logo. But they may not necessarily have any personal experience with the brand. They may not know what the brand stands for, or what it values. They may know its products or services, but they don’t have an opinion concerning the quality of those offerings.
In other words, they’re aware of the brand, but they have no personal stake in its success or failure. It’s this deeper level of brand awareness that must be achieved to build real value.
Deep Brand Awareness
Like the celebrity in our thought experiment, companies with deep brand awareness among their audience benefit from the narratives people tell themselves.
Our celebrity’s promised special message was enticing because there was a perceived reasonable expectation of value. Without knowing anything about what the message was, people assumed it was something they wanted just because of the pre-existing value they placed in the person delivering it.
This is true for brands as well. When Apple rolls out a new iPhone, consumers clamor for it because of the pre-existing associations they have with the brand. They’ve built up a whole host of narratives surrounding the quality of the phones, their cool factor, their ease of use, and any number of other perks.
To a degree, the work Apple put into building brand awareness now sells their products for them. Brand awareness is a currency, and the more you have, the more you can trade on it for dominance within an industry.
Brand Awareness in the Real World
We’ve been talking about brand awareness in terms of individual companies. But what happens when every company has brand awareness?
In the real world, you and every one of your competitors has some degree of brand awareness within your market. You likely wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t. So while brand awareness is essential, it isn’t enough to have it. What’s important is how deep it runs, how widespread it is, and how positive its associations are within your audience’s mind.
So, when people talk about creating brand awareness, they aren’t talking about fabricating it out of whole cloth, unless you’re a startup. What they’re talking about is extending your existing brand awareness and managing the associated narratives.
It’s a process of defining the specific characteristics of your brand that you most want people to be aware of and communicating those clearly. Effective brand awareness means that your prospective and current customers are not only aware of your brand, but also aware of what differentiates your brand from other brands in the same space.
This process is imperative if a company wants to compete in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. The choice is no longer a selection. It’s a barrage. It’s a constant torrent of options, like rain against a window, and if your audience isn’t intimately aware of what makes you better than your competition, you could end up part of the runoff heading for the gutter.
It’s Never Too Late to Start Building Awareness
Unless you’ve hung out your ‘closed’ sign for the last time, it isn’t too late to start building awareness around your brand. A concerted marketing effort, focused on the right customers, targeting the right brand characteristics, can do wonders for your business. Because if you want people to be aware of what makes you unique, you need to tell them. Repeatedly. And then tell them again.
We can help. We’re masters of building awareness around our clients’ unique brand identities. We craft effective messaging that gets noticed. We build campaigns that shout above the din. And most importantly, we know how to make people listen.
Contact our creative team today so that we can discuss where you are currently and what we can do to help boost and define awareness around your brand.