This is borne out by numerous statistics, with a whopping 77% of all B2B marketers claiming that the development of brand awareness is pivotal to growth.
It’s arguably even more important for customer-focused businesses, who can leverage awareness to build trust and inspire loyalty.
In the post below, we’ll explore the concept of brand awareness and its importance to your growing business, while also determining the best strategies for building this in relation to your business.
What is Brand Awareness and Why is it so Important?
In simple terms, brand awareness is the extent to which customers are familiar with the qualities, products or identity of a particular business.
When trying to define brand awareness on behalf of your business, it’s all too easy to confuse this with the notion of recognition.
Studies have proven a subtle but clear difference between these two entities, with brand recognition best described as a cognitive process that cannot exist without awareness.
Conversely, awareness refers to a state of knowledge pertaining to an existing brand, and one that enables customers to identify products, narratives and even colours that are synonymous with a certain business.
So, in a chicken and egg type scenario, there’s no doubt that brand awareness comes first and creates a state of mind through which customers associate individual elements with certain businesses or marketing campaigns.
While this explains the core definition of brand awareness, it does little to confirm why it is so important to your business.
From a broad, top-down perspective, brand awareness definitely represents the first and most crucial step in the marketing funnel, which is crucial if you’re to effectively engage and ultimately acquire customers.
So, when initially asking yourself “why is brand awareness important?”, you should keep in mind that building this will ensure that your business remains in the forefront of consumer’s minds and is capable of driving familiarity, recognition and loyalty on behalf of the brand.
Additionally, there are numerous reasons why brand awareness is central to commercial growth, despite the fact that it is a relatively vague concept that is hard to measure and does not boast a fixed monetary value.
This should not disguise the fact that it serves as a crucial launch pad for all marketing strategies and campaigns, while also having a cumulative impact in terms of driving sales, targeting new demographics and also reducing your overall marketing spend.
In terms of the latter, it’s important to remember that it’s around five-times cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones.
The issue is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to earn the trust and loyalty of consumers in competitive markets, particularly with researching suggesting that just 36% of shoppers say that they have faith in large brands to do what is right in any given situation.
Brand awareness can play a crucial role in bridging this gap, as familiarity is known to breed trust and create a tangible connection between two distinct entities.
More specifically, the more that customers are aware of (and therefore invested in) a brand’s mission, narratives and core values, the more likely that they are to trust in their products or services.
The cultivation of brand awareness can therefore have a significant influence on both real-time and future purchasing decisions, especially with a 2016 study revealing that 94% of all customers are more likely to trust a brand when they commit to full transparency.
With this in mind, it’s also fair to surmise that cultivating brand awareness is an excellent way of securing a viable and consistent position in your chosen marketplace. It certainly allows for easier market penetration, as marketers can instantly target a defined and loyal consumer base and achieve an outstanding marketing ROI even without a vastly superior product.
If you needed any proof of the importance of building brand awareness, you can find it in a study commissioned by ISPO News. This revealed that a staggering 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously, whether we’re shopping in-store or online.
Clearly, transparent brands that have built a consistent identity and considerable awareness are the most likely to benefit from such decisions, as they are the most recognisable and capable of evoking impulsive and emotive actions from customers.
This also helps to put the relationship between brand awareness and recognition into context, as the former inspires the latter and drives subconscious buying decisions.
How Has Brand Awareness Helped Other Companies?
At this stage, you should have a basic understanding of the importance of building brand awareness and how this can contribute to a sustainable business model.
But are there any practical examples of how brand awareness has helped other companies? The short answer is yes, with one particular example provided by the ‘Shoes of Prey’ brand offering a relevant case in point.
Now, you may well have heard that the Shoes of Prey brand collapsed dramatically in 2018, with many having attributed this failure to an ultimate short-fall of funding as the company scaled at an exponential and unsustainable rate.
However, the ground-breaking company, which was initially a tearaway startup success that allowed customers to design their own shoes, was able to scale so quickly by building mass brand awareness amongst a huge target audience.
More specifically, the brand sought to target its decidedly young target demographics through YouTube, leveraging 16-year old beauty vlogger and influencer Blair Fowler to achieve this aim.
The video content created as a result of this collaboration had an instant impact, generating an impressive 750,000 views in no time at all.
It also delivered a permanent 300% increase in sales, while earning the brand national media attention from top media publications in Australia. Of course, this was also augmented by an exclusive partnership with Nordstrom in the US, which helped to popularise the brand across the globe.
Beyond this type of specific example, there are plenty of studies that underlines the efficacy of brand awareness, particularly when attempting to cultivate trust amongst customers.
For example, one particular study called ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ (which was conducted by Rapport and sought to explore the connection between out-of-home media and greater trust in social media), found that firms which leveraged OOH saw their brand trust rise by a whopping 26% as a result.
Similarly, brand quality rose by 106% thanks to the utilisation of OOH ads, while respondents observed a hike of 275% in customer loyalty.
Of course, we already know that individuals who see an OOH campaign are 17% more likely to engage with the brand through their mobile devices, which in turn translates into higher levels of awareness and interaction through social channels like Instagram and Twitter.
Now, we’re also aware that brands can utilise OOH to successfully build awareness and create a greater sense of trust amongst customers, creating a foundation for long-term success and optimising the value of each individual consumer.
How to Build Brand Awareness on Behalf of your Business
Now, while the importance of brand awareness has remained largely unchanged and unchallenged for generations, the best practice for building this continues to shift in line with social, behavioural and technological trends.
Back in the 1960s, television was the most effective channel through which to build brand loyalty and in 1965, around 34% of customers could remember individual commercials that were aired on television, but this number had dropped to just 8% by 1990.
In 2007 it had fallen to a meagre 2.2%, and there are no signs of this trend being reversed in the near-term.
So what channel is the most effective for building brand awareness in 2021?
As we’ve already touched on earlier in the piece, out-of-home advertising (which is also referred to as OOH advertising or outdoor advertising) is undoubtedly one of the best ways for building brand awareness in the modern age.
One of the main reasons for this is the fact that you utilise OOH channels such as billboards to cast a wide net and target a vast number of consumers in strategically positioned (and potentially untapped) locations.
This immediately introduces your brand, products and services to mass audiences through a trusted and highly engaging medium, and one that can capture the attention of customers at a time when they’re most likely to interact with brands.
This can be particularly effective for small businesses who initially want to target local customers, as they can leverage carefully chosen locations and easily build mass awareness within a clearly-defined catchment area.
What’s more, targeting a large audience through OOH media can enable you to acquire large volumes of customer data.
For example, not only you can gather information pertaining to how many impressions individual ads generate in specific locations, but metrics such as travel surveys incorporate accelerometers, barometres and compasses to establish the modes of transport used by target audiences.
Such metrics also allow you to drill down deeper into the main characteristics of target demographics, making it impossible to improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns going forward and achieve a higher return on your advertising spend.
With that said, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of outdoor advertising media available, so before taking the plunge, it’s important to understand the distinct differences, benefits and best advertising practices for your business.
Take high format paper billboards for example, which do not require brands to share space with other firms, enabling them to promote their message in the most concise and clear way imaginable. This can be extremely effective for local businesses.
The same cannot be said for digital billboards, where space is typically shared between brands whose adverts are displayed for around 10 seconds per minutes.
Billboards are also considered to be non-intrusive adverts that blend seamlessly into their background. This is largely due to the fact that billboards can be placed in strategic locations, making them easily accessible to commuters and people going about their daily business.
This drives far greater levels of interaction and engagement among customers who prefer to curate their own content, making it far more likely that your brand, its message and key features will be effectively absorbed.
This is an interesting point, as it’s impossible to lay the foundations for brand awareness if your customers are not engaged, as they will not hear what you have to say or learn enough to acknowledge the core values of your venture and its proposition.
On a final note, you need to remember that the average customer spends well in excess of 70% of their time out of the home, and in this respect, billboard advertising is the single most effective way of building awareness across the vast majority of demographics.
How to Set Up Your Campaigns
Of course, execution is also key when building brand awareness, so you’ll need to prepare thoroughly when setting up your campaigns to ensure that they receive your core business objectives.
We’ve broken down the core planning process below, so that you can understand precisely what you want as an entrepreneur and how best to achieve such goals.
- Planning, Planning and Planning: Planning your campaign features a number of key factors, which come together to form the why, the where and the who of your strategy. This compels you to drill down into your core motivation for erecting a billboard and building brand awareness, your target locations and the demographics of each audience that you intend to focus on with your messaging.
- The Initial Design: Once you have a clear understanding of these elements,the next step is to focus on the initial design of your billboard and create a basic visual template. This should be governed by the so-called ‘rule of three’ (which essentially divides your ad space into three equally-sized horizontal sections), within which you’ll place your imagery, branding and concise, primary messaging.
- The Production: At the production stage, you’ll most likely work with a dedicated and experienced agency like 75Media, who can help to bring your conceptions to life. During this process, you’ll select the exact dimensions of your billboard, depending on their precise location and the unique behaviour of your audience.
- Tracking and Measuring Your Campaign: Once your billboards and ads have been erected, the next step is to measure their efficacy and performance over time. Initially, you can use basic travel survey data to calculate OOH impressions in specific locations, with ‘MobiTest’ devices tracking an individual’s real-time location and direction of travel. 3D maps can also be used to track the movement around small indoor ads, creating more detailed impression data in the process.
The Last Word
As we can see, brand awareness is an important but often misunderstood marketing element, and one that is increasingly capable of driving sustained business growth, incremental sales and more cost-effective campaigns.
OOH media and ad channels such as billboards can be particularly effective when looking to create brand awareness for your business, while here at 75Media we’re well-placed to help you conceive, create and implement effective outdoor campaigns.
We’re also adding new digital locations to augment our selection of traditional billboard placements, so there’s never been a better time to partner with us, optimise your execution and create a genuine buzz around your brand.
If you are interested in discussing a billboard advertising campaign for your business, don’t hesitate to get in-touch to find out more.