One of the key factors that drive consumers’ purchase decisions is brand awareness. The first stage in the customer journey drives a consumer’s curiosity about a product. While the journey is usually non-linear and occurs over a period of time, strong brand awareness can provide a huge head start against the competition.
In simple terms, brand awareness measures the ability of a product or service to be recognized by consumers just based on its name. Marketers launch brand awareness campaigns to introduce a new brand, increase market share, or revive an old brand that has fallen into obscurity. It involves communicating key differentiation characteristics to help consumers distinguish a particular brand from its competitors.
But brand awareness is not just about visibility. The brand must establish a positive reputation through its interactions with its consumers, such as getting recommendations and high feedback ratings or setting a good performance record. A positive reputation is critical because familiarity breeds trust. Unless the brand does something significant that breaks this trust, consumers would rather place their hard-earned money on something that has a lesser risk of failure.
There is enough tangible evidence to prove the effectiveness of brand awareness in driving sales growth. Marketing research has shown a direct correlation between brand awareness and consumer purchase. According to Nielsen, a single point increase in awareness can directly result in a 1% sales increase, a significant number, particularly for valuable brands that pull in billions in sales every year.
Defining Top of Mind Awareness
While brand awareness refers to consumers’ familiarity with a particular brand, top of mind awareness measures a brand’s position in the consumers’ minds. A brand that consumers recall first in its category has achieved top of mind awareness. Top of mind awareness is a metric used by brands to gauge their space in the market compared to their competitors.
Achieving top of mind position does not come from just a single facet of the brand, such as sales volume or advertising reach. Rather, it comes from the collective consumer experiences and brand interactions over time. Thus, brands must consider other factors when measuring the top of mind awareness. Things to consider include consumers loyalty and support to the brand, the value of the product or service in the consumers’ mind, the level of recognition that the brand has achieved, and the emotions and experiences that consumers associate with the brand.
Achieving top of mind awareness is an enviable position for any brand. However, brands must realize that this is not an easy task. It takes years of effort, consistent positive feedback, and considerable resources before a brand is at the forefront of the consumers’ minds.
Building top of mind awareness essentially boils down to three main foundations: acknowledgment, recall, and quality customer experience. It starts with visibility, which involves spreading information about the brand across different media to let consumers know about them. Along with this, brands must set themselves apart from their competition.
Recall follows after several encounters between the brand and the consumer. This recall can either be positive or negative, depending on the quality and type of experiences that the consumers had when interacting with the brand. If the consumer feels that he’s been given more value for his money consistently after each transaction, he will positively impression the brand.
On the flip side, if a brand fails to meet expectations or cannot deliver on its promises, it will create a negative impression in the minds of consumers. A negative impression is why customer experience must be given equal importance. Complaints and signs of dissatisfaction must be swiftly addressed, and the source of dissatisfaction fixed right away, whether it is the product itself or a step in the sales process.
A consumer’s interaction with a brand may not always come from first-hand experiences. Many consumers who have not yet directly availed of the product can learn about other people’s experiences because of the internet and social media. Thus, brands must manage customer expectations in each sales cycle stage, from inquiry to after-sales service.
Increasing Top of Mind Awareness
The internet and social media combination have pushed content production to a much faster pace than ever before. As a result, consumers are faced with an onslaught of information every day. From advertisements alone, it’s estimated that an average person is exposed to anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 ads in a single day. Add to this the amount of information they get from their personal contacts, work reminders, and other minute tasks that they deal with regularly, and it’s no wonder consumers are starting to feel overwhelmed.
To achieve top of mind awareness, a brand must stand out from its direct competitors and cut across these waves of information to take hold of consumers’ attention. Fortunately, brands have many options within their reach. Here are some of the strategies that brands can tap to help them achieve top of mind awareness:
1. Set A Clear Identity
For a brand to stay in the memories of its target consumers, it should have remarkable and distinct qualities that set it apart from products or services of the same nature. If a brand appears like a copy of another existing brand, it will fail to generate interest from consumers, much less be remembered. Setting a distinction starts with its brand identity.
There must be a clear definition of what the brand is about and its added value to the marketplace. It must also be explicit about the profile of consumers it is trying to reach. Aside from its name, logo, and other elements that come together to form its visual identity, a brand must have a compelling message that will catch the consumers’ interest and make them pay attention.
The crucial part is to be visible and set itself apart from the mob of other products that bombard them with messages every day. To do this, a brand must put forward something that consumers have not experienced before, something that adds value to them and can make their lives better in some way.
2. Leverage on Content
In the digital age where consumers have the power to choose what to watch, content is king. A study of more than 10,000 respondents from Europe and the US has revealed that the average watching time has doubled since the pandemic. People now spend almost 7 hours consuming content every day, with 48% on social media, while 44% access content through connected TV devices.
People are generally more receptive to messages during this time, which gives brands plenty of opportunities for interaction. However, brands must note that quality is of utmost importance for content. Due to the huge volume of materials published online every day, a brand would only stand out by churning out high-quality content that viewers would enjoy watching.
Aside from the visual and audio effects, relevance is key when creating brand content that would generate awareness. Consumers want to see content that reflects their reality, not false promises or fake news. In fact, almost 70% of audiences feel attracted to ads that are aligned with their chosen content, while more than 40% of them are willing to make a trial purchase from brands they saw from an ad that they found to be relevant.
3. Expand Your Reach
Advertising can help brands get across to their target market, but it can take away a chunk of their budget. To strike a balance between awareness, objectives, and marketing spend, brands must take a multi-pronged approach when planning an awareness campaign.
Aside from strategic ad placements, resources should also be allocated to influencer marketing and search engine optimization or SEO. Influencers with significant impact in their category would be able to communicate their messages using a relatively varied approach compared to their ad materials.
Influencers are also perceived as consumers and thus can act as their representatives. Because of this, their feedback and review of a product are given more trust and credibility by their followers. In essence, influencers serve as the bridge that connects brands to their consumers.
Brands tend to be associated with influencers they partner with and vice versa. Thus, brands must choose to partner only with influencers who have already established a good following and have a clean reputation.
On the other hand, SEO can drive more traffic to a brand’s online assets for a minimal budget spend. Brands should work with their digital marketing agencies to optimize their website and online content, getting them to rank high in search results. Aside from having better chances of getting clicked, brands at the top of the list can improve awareness by having their name or website frequently appear to search engine users.
4. Create Memorable Customer Experiences
People tend to have more vivid memories of things that can touch them emotionally. Maya Angelou, a famous American poet, once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The same observation applies to brands as well.
Brands that can build emotional connections will stay in the minds of their consumers for a long time. The longer a brand can maintain this connection, the stronger the recall will be, and eventually, it can become the top of mind brand for these consumers. Customer connection is why brands must build memorable experiences with their target consumers. But not only must they do it – they must be able to do it well and consistently.
Rewarding loyal customers is one way in which a brand can build an emotional connection with its core market. Rewarding is a form of recognition to consumers who have contributed to the brand’s growth. These kinds of activities would make them feel acknowledged and appreciated, and they would associate these positive feelings with the brand. Rewards can be given exclusive discounts, freebies, loyalty cards, or gifts during special occasions.
Maintaining active communication with consumers is another way to build top-of-mind awareness. Maintaining communication can be done through an email list through which the brand sends reminders, item suggestions aligned with their preferences, or simply a birthday greeting if the information is available on record. Aside from making these consumers feel special, having regular correspondence is also a subtle reminder of the brand’s existence.
An active community also helps in creating and managing the customer experience. With social media, maintaining an active consumer community has become more simple. A brand can keep consumers engaged by sharing relevant information about their industry or helpful tips that will help make their lives better. Brands can run contests to encourage consumers to interact with themselves and others in the community from time to time.
Similarly, an active community can spread awareness and build a positive reputation for the brand. Community members can become brand advocates who willingly share their feedback and experiences with the public. These kinds of stories from current consumers can be seen by other people who are searching about the brand or its competitors.
5. Establish and Protect Brand Credibility
Like in any relationship, trust is a major issue that affects a brand’s connection with its consumers. Brands that have earned their consumers’ trust would naturally become the top of mind choice for their category. Trust also turns buyers into loyal consumers who will regularly purchase while also converting new customers through their testimonials and positive feedback.
According to research, trust is one of the key drivers of purchase decisions for more than 80% of consumers. It also plays an important role in successful advertising campaigns as 76% of consumers are more receptive to ads from brands they trust. However, this is tricky territory because while trust builds slowly over time, one major mistake can crumble the whole relationship.
Consumers expect brands to deliver on their promises consistently and without fail, which is why brands must make credibility their priority. The quality of the product and service must be held at the highest standards, and any complaint or dissatisfaction must be addressed quickly to satisfy the consumer.
Make 2022 Your Company’s Year for Top of Mind Awareness
By following the above steps for your business, 2022 can be a year of business growth for your company. Regardless of how big or small your company may be, time and resources will need to go into your marketing efforts. EWR Digital can help. Give us a call or contact us online today to find out how we can help your business grow.