7 ways to use your brand awareness to increase sales
By Simon Brooks, 30 January 2015
What is your brand value?
A tricky question perhaps. The value of your brand is driven by your ethics and values and by the overall experience that your customers have with your company and products or services.
All of which means that whatever you might think, your brand is defined by the perceptions of others.
There are many things that marketers can do to positively impact these perceptions – and increase sales. In this article, we’ve distilled covered eight ways of them.
1. Strong logo and corporate identity
When some people talk about ‘branding’, they’re actually referring to their logo, colours and font that appears in their letterhead or building signage.
Part of your branding is visual, and includes everything from your colours and fonts to the images and design you use in your everyday marketing.
Think of any global brand and recall the logo for that brand. The logos that you can recognise are probably memorable for all kinds of reasons. Of course, it’s also because they spend vast amounts to generate visibility – but there’s no point spending money on a ‘forgettable’ logo!
Yet a logo doesn’t have to be complicated to be strong. Think of Nike and the simple ‘swoosh’ or ‘tick’ symbol. It’s simple, but it’s bold and memorable. The same applies to your choice of font and colour scheme; keep it bold, yet simple and relevant to your brand.
Every message, product or sample of content that comes out of your company should feature your visual identity and should always be consistent.
How is your visual identity applied to your marketing collateral? Does it appear consistently everywhere?
Review your business cards, letterhead and email footer, your website, your building signage, sales brochures, business presentations, data sheets and case studies. Look also at your invoices and purchase orders.
2. Stories and values
Audiences tend to buy products and services from companies that they can identify with.
Businesses have cottoned on to this, and to try and resonate with their markets they are increasingly using compelling stories to show that they’re on the same side.
This doesn’t mean you need a novel to promote your products and services, but your story should bring life and personality to your business or products so they engage your prospects and customers.
A brand story can help your audience assess your values and what you stand for, so they can identify with your business. It’s probably one the most important elements in brand awareness.
For example, Innocent Drinks’s story talks about how the founders started with a single juice stand at festivals, made their drinks using natural ingredients with no chemical additives and sold out every time.
It’s a simple, raw, rags to riches story that we’d all love to identify with. The name and the type of product add to this ‘aura’ that by buying Innocent, we’re doing the right thing.
What’s your business’s story? How and why did it come into being? What are the things that motivate your team at work and play every day? What charities do you support and why? What are your beliefs and convictions?
Make your story natural and convincing. It shouldn’t need too much effort to produce.
3. Personal and personality branding
You’ve heard of the ‘face of the company’. There’s a reason for it.
Many companies list some of their team on their website, perhaps with a photo and a short biography about them. Humans like to see other humans, so putting a face on a page adds personality to your brand. Customers prefer this level of closeness to a faceless business.
It’s as if by knowing you and your staff they are getting know your brand in the same personal manner.
Personal and personality branding is not new – but Neil Patel, a leading marketing expert who we admire here at C4B Media, is a great advocate of the ‘personal brand’ approach.
Neil’s companies (he’s cofounder of KISSmetrics, QuickSprout and Crazy Egg) uses his own story as part of his branding message. He is the brand.
Another excellent example is Richard Branson. Any company he’s involved with has an air of trustworthiness to it. People admire Branson for all sorts of reasons, and many like to think they can identify with him in some small way.
Who is the personality in your company? What sports do they follow or participate in? What global causes do they believe in? What are their principles and values? What personal and business successes can you tell a story about? Are these shared throughout the business?
No matter what you call it, it does the same job.
How many brand slogans can you recall right now? How about “Just Do It”, “Every Little Helps” or “I’m Lovin’ it”?
Slogans stay in the customer’s head. Most people over a certain age can still recall ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’ or “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” lines even though these campaigns ran decades ago.
Your slogan supports your story in some way, directly or indirectly by either giving out a specific message e.g. “Every Little Helps”, implying a value e.g. “Just Do It” or making a supporting statement e.g. “(We’re) The World’s Local Bank”.
The brands mentioned above spent £millions to develop slogans and then £millions more promoting and re-inforcing their messages to create awareness. They do it for very good reason, but you don’t need millions to do it yourself.
If you want to develop a strapline or slogan to support your business or products, bear in mind the three R’s: Recognise, Remember and Reward. You need customers to recognise your business, remember you for future reference and reward you with their business when they’re ready.
5. Awareness generation
Creating awareness in your target market for your company, products and services can be an expensive business.
You may be familiar with the terms ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ advertising and promotion as methods of creating awareness in target markets to drive awareness.
Above the line or “ATL” promotion is what most consumers recognise as marketing. It’s the TV advertising, the billboards, the adverts that are largely untargeted ‘mass marketing’ used by the biggest brands.
Below the line (BTL) is more targeted at specific niche audiences and is often favoured in the B2B marketing world. Think direct mail – if professionally executed it targets profiled groups with a very specific message.
For smaller businesses, marketing activity often comes down to choices and trade-offs between where to spend scarce budget. It’s about selecting the right channels and media; and choosing between different activities such as PR, email marketing, social media, blogs and web pages.
At C4B Media we’ve found that a blend of Inbound and Outbound Marketing works best. Inbound is aimed at potential customers who are actively searching the web, and getting found; outbound is about reaching out and telling customers what you have to offer using tools like email, telemarketing and DM.
What’s the most important marketing mix for creating awareness of your products among your target customers?
Take a look at every piece of marketing material or collateral that carries your logo or company name. Does it appear consistently everywhere?
The biggest brands have whole departments collectively responsible for policing brand consistency (endearingly known when I worked at BT as the Brand Police). They usually have huge tomes called Brand Guidelines which provide instructions about exact colours, fonts, spacing of logos on branded material or signage.
There is logic behind it though: to re-inforce branding and prevent ‘brand dilution’ creeping in.
Wherever your logo or name is seen it must always be visually the same. When represented online it must remain equally consistent. Your written messages must be consistent too.
Without consistency your customers will be confused and won’t be able to identify and engage with your brand.
Everything from a letterhead to a building sign or business card given away at an event must be the same. It speaks of strength, values and ‘consistency’ – all of which customers look for in placing their trust in products and companies.
How consistent is your visual branding? Do an audit of all your materials and make sure there are no different versions of your logo flying around, that your colours are exactly reproduced in print and online, that your fonts are adhered to rigorously and that your messaging language uses the same tone of voice.
The mere sight of certain brand names can instantly conjure up a sense of trust and value.
With every step you take to build brand awareness, the creation of ‘trust’ should be central to your thinking. Everything you put out there, every action you take as a company and every interaction you have with your customers and prospects, suppliers and employees, stakeholders and shareholders – all must engender trust.
Delivery promises, for example are a key example. I’m a member of Amazon Prime – which I pay an annual premium for. Whenever I buy on Amazon, I look for the “Prime” symbol, because I know that, barring an earthquake, my purchase will be delivered when Amazon promises it will be delivered. Every time. So I trust Amazon Prime.
McDonald’s (love them or loathe them) are trusted all over the world, so that from Brisbane to Bombay to Boston the customer experience of a Big Mac will be the same. You trust McDonald’s no matter what country you’re in – and for millions of tourists who travel the world, the first glimpse of the golden arches means the next meal isn’t far away.
All the visual, messaging and physical representations of your brand are as nothing if you cannot support them with service, quality, value, reliability and trust. Once your customers begin to trust you as a brand and that you can deliver, they’ll buy from you. Once they buy and your product is consistent with your branding, they’ll trust you further and begin to recommend you to others.
Is your business trusted? How do you measure it? Apple have got this absolutely right. Their earnings are higher than any other business in history and sales of their products continue to increase. Consistency, reliability and trust for Apple are everything, whether it’s going to the Apple Store, unwrapping a new iPad, or using your iPhone every day. Yet their products may not always be the best. Sorry, Apple lovers.
We’ve not by any means covered every aspect of brand awareness here. In fact brands can very often be prominent in the market for all the wrong reasons.
But if you’re a marketer whose job it is to increase brand awareness in the right ways and for the right reasons, try working on some of the above. Tell us about your experiences!
Or if you’d like some help with your brand development, alignment and consistency or logo and corporate identity design, contact C4B Media and we’ll be pleased to discuss your goals with you.
For more on this please talk to us on 01763 877110