Guest post by Cognism
Brand awareness is a fundamental marketing pillar. It describes how well consumers recognise and remember a particular brand or company. Companies want their name, logo, brand identity and products and services to be familiar to their target market and beyond.
In this blog, we’ll dig into what a successful brand awareness campaign looks like and how to achieve it. At the end, we’ll look at some successful examples, so stick around!
Why is brand awareness important?
Brand awareness is something every company should invest in. Why?
In short, brand awareness lubricates the buyer journey. Buyers often choose the path of least resistance. If your company is their primary association with the product or service they want, they’ll gravitate towards you more readily and hiring a freelance illustrator would help.
High brand awareness also reduces customer acquisition costs and gives you more control over brand perception.
What is a brand awareness campaign?
A brand awareness campaign is a marketing campaign that has the explicit goal of growing brand awareness. It differs from other types of marketing campaigns in that it has more diffuse goals than, for instance, moving buyers through the funnel, generating leads or driving eBook downloads.
As Attest explains, brand awareness is more than just impressions. It’s about making an impression. It’s about telling a story, capturing attention and building an understanding of what makes your brand different.
How to run a successful brand awareness campaign
The successful execution of a brand awareness campaign requires a solid understanding of your target audience, clear goals, creativity and adaptability. Let’s dive in.
How to create impactful content that drives brand awareness
1. Know your customer
The starting point for impactful content is always the customer.
Marketers know they need to know their customers, but it’s easy to allow an idea of a customer to become too abstract. You can run any number of buyer persona workshops and still fail to achieve a true understanding of the kinds of customers you need to read.
For Andrew Davies, CMO of Paddle, meeting your customers is vital:
“Just get in the room with your customer, whether virtually or physically, making sure you’re having those conversations as a senior marketer. It’s too easy to be isolated from your target market; we’ve got to be hearing that customer first hand.”
“The customer understanding piece is vital because all creativity must be rooted in customer insight.”
2. Create something that resonates
With customer insight, you can create something that speaks specifically to your ideal clients’ real concerns. You want them to come away with this sense of ‘wow – this is for me, this really speaks to an issue in my life’.
A brand awareness campaign is where a marketer can allow their storytelling abilities to shine. Aim to tell a story that authentically centres your buyer persona and attempts to solve their problems. Stories can generate a powerful emotional response and achieve cut-through.
You need to know what matters to your customer, what excites them, what problems they have, what makes their work difficult, and what your product can do to help them.
And by getting close to your customers, maybe you can answer more complicated questions like: What makes them laugh? What wins their respect?
If you can create content and tell a story that gets to the heart of those questions, your campaign will be unstoppable.
3. Don’t let budget constrain ambition
Rare is the B2B marketing team that doesn’t have to worry about budget!
Thankfully, marketing is a profession where creativity and impact are absolutely possible on a tight budget. As Leonardo da Vinci allegedly said, “Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom.”
Find people in your organisation with engaging communication styles. Lean on your professional network. Run a survey or drop some high-value content – the options are many.
What mindset is needed to create an attention-grabbing campaign?
The B2B landscape doesn’t always feature the most exciting content. And that’s fine – not all content needs to set the pulse racing.
But brand awareness is an exception and provides a real opportunity to aim for something that your audience will find memorable. Creating something fresh and interesting reflects well on your brand even before the messaging you put in it takes effect.
But how to tap into those creative impulses?
Firstly, you need to adopt a customer-centric mindset. As we’ve discussed already, you need to build your content around some reality that the customer or prospect is facing. It’s this insight that allows content to feel authentic.
Secondly, it takes courage and a willingness to fail. Now obviously, you can’t just fail forever, but early attempts, even if unsuccessful from an ROI perspective, can be valuable learning experiences. Without a willingness to fail, it becomes very difficult to do something that’s genuinely interesting.
That’s because interesting means original, and original means untested. And untested means taking a leap of faith of some sort. It can be difficult to be genuinely courageous within corporate environments where bad performances draw more attention than good. As such, a brand awareness campaign manager needs the skill to win buy-in from the powers that be.
Thirdly, it takes a mindset that understands that time and space are needed for creativity. That could mean time as in a lag in terms of payoff, or an investment in time away from the churn of daily working life to think and create.
With all three factored into your thinking, your campaign will stand out from the crowd.
How to measure the impact of a brand awareness campaign
Create an ROI-focused brand awareness campaign
According to Andrew Davies:
“One way of making ROI work is to make sure the “I” is very small.”
That means – if leadership wants your campaign to prioritise returns, a tighter budget makes it easier to prove.
But let’s not overstate the importance of working on a shoestring. A small, lightweight campaign is a great starting point for a marketing team, but as you grow in confidence, you’ll find there are ways to scale impact with investment.
Measuring and analysing a brand awareness campaign
Content can exist on the internet forever and continue to draw attention, but that’s no help when it comes to measuring campaign success.
You have to draw the line at some point. We think best practice involves gathering feedback and information while the campaign is running and for about two months after, for a total of about one quarter.
That gives your marketing campaign time to take effect while allowing you to keep moving forward with new initiatives.
There are many ways to measure the growth of awareness of your brand. These include:
- Reach and engagement metrics like impressions, shares, comments, likes.
- Search volume.
- Changes in direct traffic.
- Number of backlinks.
Tips for a first-time brand awareness campaign manager
Big-impact brand awareness campaigns can be hard to get off the ground – especially if it’s a team’s first campaign.
A campaign can be affected by all manner of things, from delays getting buy-in, left-field external political events, difficulties getting hold of key people or internal shake-ups.
But do it once and the next time will be easier. Your team will be more skilled and management will have a better understanding of the value. The growth that your team will undergo with a successful campaign to their name can be worth the effort, even without further ROI calculations.
What is the ideal timing for a brand awareness campaign?
Brand awareness is something a company should start to build early on.
Andrew Davies said:
“In terms of higher cost acquisition for life, if you’re not making those brand investments now, you’re going to be paying more on your customer acquisition cost because it’s going to cost more to cut through into those different audiences.”
The payoff for brand awareness is realised over quarters and years; companies that don’t invest in brand awareness pay for it later. It’s not only customer acquisition cost that will suffer, but lack of brand awareness makes it harder to hit long-term strategic goals.
Companies use brand awareness campaigns to help guide customer perception through transformative or newsworthy events. This could include notable M&A activity or entering new markets. Customers of acquired businesses will want to know what the new owners are all about and the additional attention M&A activity generates is ripe for making an impression.
Not all marketing teams will have the luxury of working with such easy wins, though.
Brand awareness can also be about banging the drum all year round. Paddle’s team tries to publish something meaningful and compelling every month. A hallmark of a strong team is one that can settle on a rhythm and get buy-in from relevant stakeholders to facilitate a monthly schedule, while working in sufficient flexibility or agility in content production.
How do you get buy-in for brand awareness?
Getting buy-in from senior executives from the beginning greases the campaign wheels immensely.
The best way to get that buy-in is to use the ideas your execs have. Rather than pitching ideas over and over again, facilitate conversations with them to get their ideas into the mix.
If you’re struggling to get their attention, try building out a zero-budget proof of concept that conveys the essence of the idea. After all, the key thing is you’re telling is a story – so tell it!
Creative brand awareness examples
Let’s look at a few examples of companies doing brand awareness well and what they’re getting right.
HubSpot Creator Network
CRM platform provider HubSpot’s Creator platform is an ambitious foray into media investing. Through Creator, HubSpot is acting like a private equity firm, investing in podcasters and YouTubers in the business influencer world.
HubSpot’s marketing has always been ambitious, but for a B2B SaaS company to go this big into media is something new. It’s becoming hard to imagine anyone interested in a business that doesn’t recognise the HubSpot brand.
Revenue intelligence platform provider Gong grew its brand awareness by making the absolute most of a raft of employer recognition awards it won. The company bought billboard space all across San Francisco, celebrating their employees of the year.
This killed two birds with one stone, raising brand awareness and boosting Gong’s employer brand concurrently.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk up Cognism’s very own Alice de Courcy’s Diary of a First-Time CMO.
Based on Alice’s LinkedIn journaling on Cognism’s shift from lead generation to a demand generation marketing model, Diary of a First-Time CMO has made a big splash with its target audience.
If you remember anything from this blog, we’d want it to be these things:
- Investment in brand awareness will pay off in the long (or even not so long) run.
- You can achieve brand awareness growth incrementally, but making something bold and exciting will cause people to take note.
- The institutional muscle gained from getting an initial ambitious campaign over the line can be worth the investment in itself.
- Don’t miss out on organically newsworthy events (funding rounds, M&A activity) to maximise brand awareness growth.
- A successful B2B awareness campaign takes insight, courage and time.