Building Brand Recognition
by Melanie, on 11 Aug 2020
One of the main things that early-stage companies need to worry about is brand recognition. This is not just a big company topic. Some people in the entrepreneurship world may also refer to it as "building awareness".
It may sound obvious that you need to build awareness and that doing so should be simple. However, a deeper understanding of why it's critical will help you become much more effective in your strategic efforts.
So, rather than assuming or glossing over it , we think it's important to talk about it as an important company goal.
Building awareness is the first stage in the customer journey. You need to get potential buyers from not knowing about you – possibly not even knowing your category of product or service – to having heard of you. That's an important first step!
Keep reading to learn more about:
- The five levels of brand recognition
- Why brand recognition is valuable to your company
- What you can do to increase brand recognition
- How to measure your brand recognition
- Next steps
Also, recognize that building brand recognition and brand equity is a long-term strategy. You won't see the value overnight but you cannot afford to ignore it until you're bigger. Start now.
What is Brand Recognition?
Let's get more specific about the different categories of brand recognition. There are five levels associated with various stages.
Note that the horizontal line is where we recommend early-stage companies focus - moving customers from non-recognition to recognition.
As you become a more mature company, your early customers will hopefully move into the preference and loyalty phases and you'll begin to shift some attention to managing those phases more intentionally.
We also hope that you don't yet have to deal with the brand rejection stage!
You can avoid falling into this stage by being thoughtful and intentional about the customer experience you're building. Early adopters should understand that you're still working out some kinks as you grow.
Keep putting your customers front and center, apologize when something goes wrong, demonstrate that they matter to you, and they'll forgive you for the occasional hiccup without rejecting your brand.
Which stage best describes your company's present situation? Be honest about the challenges that are most pressing in terms of your go-to-market strategy. Then, keep reading for ideas on how to move to the next stage. Remember, incremental changes and small wins will build momentum.
Why Is Brand Recognition Valuable to your company?
The most simplistic answer is that more people knowing about your company means an increasing number of potential customers. More potential customers should hopefully result in more actual customers, which results in more revenue.
Hopefully this will start to scale, making your margins better. Hello, growth!
But, how does this actually happen?
A strong brand doesn't happen by accident. It's built on your purpose, mission, and vision. It's built by people or individuals who understand the importance of brand recognition.
The brand takes into account what customers expect and want, even if it might surprise them!
Your brand also creates a particular customer experience that spans senses and digital and in-person.
Generate a list of adjectives that describe your brand's voice and style. If your brand had behavior, what would it do? Prioritize these until you have no more than five in each category.
Similarly, identify adjectives and verbs that you would 100% NOT want people to associate with your brand.
Think about what this means in terms of your visual aesthetic and how it might impact your written content.
Depending on the channels you're targeting and whether or not you sell or ship physical products, you might also spend some time considering scents that can be associated with your brand.
Perhaps you're going to produce some videos. If so, think through what background music would sound like your brand. You have the opportunity to create a multi-sensory experience for your customers.
Continue expanding this thought process to the next layer of your business. How does it impact your operations? Customer success? How will you ensure brand consistency across your company? What's needed to do that?
Start by making sure you have consistent brand elements.
This means consistent logo, colors, and fonts. It also means you should have consistent visuals – for example, if you use stock photos or illustrations, they should all have a similar style.
And by color, I don't mean "blue;" I mean picking a specific hex code.
|If your website uses this:|
|And your app uses this:|
|And your logo uses this:|
Pick #00B4D8 as your blue and use it across everything.
Can people really see the difference?
Yes. Which is why I'm picky about it. Others may not consciously think "hey, that blue is different here than over there," but you'll quickly look less professional and lower quality by not paying attention to details.
If people perceive your brand as higher quality (because you are being consistent with your brand elements), you can charge higher prices because they will perceive that you deliver more value.
In addition to pricing, your overall sales should increase because people are more likely to buy from brands they trust, and consistency increases our trust in others. We know that you're dependable. We know what we can expect. And, hopefully, we have other positive connections with your brand as well.
Be as specific as possible about your brand elements. Capture all the details in a brand guidelines document and share it with everyone at your company, from your development team to your accounting team.
Designate a person to review internal and external materials to ensure they are brand compliant. As you scale up, there are software tools for managing your team's access to brand-compliant materials online, minimizing the chance that someone "goes rogue."
Your brand provides an opportunity to experientially stand out from your competitors, helping your target audience differentiate between your solution and other options they have.
Look at the websites and social media accounts of three of your competitors. What are their color schemes and visual look? How does their content sound?
Do they use a consistent voice and look and feel? If not, there's a huge way you can stand out. If they are, it may mean that branding really matters to your target market, so you should step up and really pay attention to your brand.
What can you do TO increase brand recognition?
Many recent articles have stressed the importance of social media in increasing brand recognition – both through advertising and content.
Different platforms provide brands with different opportunities to display their personality and showcase their style and behavior through direct interaction with the market. Plus, it's visible to everyone.
No matter which channels you're focused on, you have the chance to highlight your brand and increase brand recognition. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Social media
- Partner brands – co-marketing with other companies, guest blogging, influencer marketing
- Content marketing – lead magnets, podcasts, infographics, videos, et.
- Freemium business model
- Swag/direct mail materials
- Community participation or creation
- Existing customers via referrals
If you're in the early stages of marketing at your company, choose a handful of channels and don't worry about the others for a while. Invest effort in creating custom graphics or audio files – whatever is needed for each particular channel. Don't rush or spread your resources so thin that your brand gets diluted along the way.
How to measure brand recognition?
While brand recognition is on the "touchy-feely" end of the marketing spectrum, which makes it harder to quantify, there are some indicators you can monitor without having to hire a market researcher to survey your target market.
Key metrics to look at include your website traffic (both sessions and visitors), the size of your social audience, and the number of people who have subscribed to your company pages and channels.
Use software to capture your website traffic and email subscribers on a regular basis (e.g. Google Analytics or HubSpot). Create a simple spreadsheet to track and evaluate your stats over time – we recommend logging and reviewing them at least month, and preferably every week.
What to do next?
Don't limit your thinking to generating awareness and increasing brand recognition! This is just the first step of your customers' journey with you.
Think about the next steps. What happens when they consider doing business with you? How do they become paying customers? Then, how are you going to build their loyalty over time and encourage them to refer others' business to you.
Now is the perfect time to create your customer journey maps if you haven't yet done so.