Understanding how brand awareness influences purchasing decisions can help keep the sales pipeline full
In today’s cluttered marketing environment, standing out from the competition has become more challenging. Everywhere we turn, thousands of brands are vying for our limited attention span. This overload has conditioned us to be hyper-sensitive to brand messaging delivered through advertising, POP marketing, and social media platforms, or as I prefer to call it, our “BS” meters are working overtime.
This is precisely why a balanced approach, using a combination of branding strategies, tactics, and measurements is so important to build brand preference in the consumer’s eyes. Using Wikipedia for standardized definitions on this topic, I present the following for people-to-people marketers:
Elevating your brand to the purchasing consideration set
Brand Awareness. This term refers to whether the consumer is able to recall a brand by name or recognize a feature associated with the brand. Brand awareness is important because the consumer must be aware of the brand before it can be placed in the purchasing consideration set.
Brand awareness can take many forms, including brand name recognition and being aware of differentiating factors such as size, shape, packaging, color, etc. In addition, the awareness factor is closely tied to the brand’s market share and competitive performance.
Increasing brand awareness falls into the domain of advertising. No matter if the target audience is mass market or niche, various forms of advertising are used to disseminate key messages, differentiate the brand, and educate the consumer as to the brand’s features and benefits. During the product’s life cycle — from introduction to decline — brand awareness should be monitored and advertising used judiciously to establish, maintain, and restore the brand’s awareness at a competitive level.
Types of brand awareness
Brand recall refers to the consumer’s ability to correctly recall a brand name from memory when prompted by a product category. Most consumers usually can only recall a small number of brands (usually three to five) in a specific category. High brand name recall indicates a strong tie between a category and a brand. For example, Apple would rank very high in brand recall in the category of personal computing. Brand recall is also affected by the consumer’s involvement and personal knowledge/experience in the category.
Brand recall also is an indication of the emotional connection the consumer has established with the brand, which is a powerful force in people-to-people marketing and is a driving factor in the considered purchase process.
Brand recognition refers to the ability of the consumer to correctly differentiate the brand when they come into contact with it. This is extremely important in the retail environment where thousands of branded products are competing for the consumer’s attention on crowded shelves. To illustrate, take a trip to any grocery or home improvement store and notice the number of free standing point-of-purchase displays, elaborate endcaps, or small ads attached to shopping carts for items such as yard equipment, gardening supplements, pet food or personal care products.
Anyway, you choose look at it, brand awareness is essential in elevating products and services to the purchasing consideration set. This is the first step in the purchasing process, whether for high value considered purchases or impulse buys from the local convenience store.