You’ve created a great product based on field testing and market research. You’re ready to launch and sit down with your Marketing and Advertising team to facilitate an advertising campaign. First, potential customers need to know about your brand, to become aware of its presence on the market. Then, once they’re aware of it, you want them to choose to buy it over another brand. The first phase is to create brand awareness and the second phase, brand preference. “But really, what’s the difference?”, you think to yourself. It’s more than you may realize.
You’ve heard of Apple, right? You’re aware of their brand – Brand Awareness. Do you own an iPhone or an Android? If you’ve heard of Apple’s iPhone, but you own a Samsung-branded phone, then your Brand Preference is Android. You may have heard of a product, but based on experience, research, or opinion, you decide you prefer one product over another. Knowing this, how do you brand your own product with both awareness and preference in mind?
Types of Brand Awareness
Brand Awareness is important. It is the first step in advertising and is what is recognized by existing and potential customers. Customers looking for a smartphone may be aware of both Apple and Samsung products, but may base their buying decisions on the kind of operating system they prefer to use. If they choose an Apple iPhone, it’s likely they own a Mac computer and prefer Apple products, in general. If they choose a Samsung Galaxy, it’s likely they own and use a PC/Windows based operating system.
There are two areas of brand awareness to consider – Aided Awareness and Top of Mind Awareness (or brand recall).
- Aided Awareness implies potential customers recognize your brand among a list of other brands, which is good. But, even better is to make sure your brand is uppermost on someone’s mind.
- Top of Mind Awareness (immediate brand recall) means it’s your product someone may think of first when considering buying something in your industry or product category.
Building Blocks from Brand Awareness to Brand Preference
Now, here’s the big leap. How do you get potential customers to move from knowing about your brand to preferring it over other brands?
In our always-on, ever-on-demand, technologically advanced world, it’s important to leverage the multitude of marketing channels available from social media to word-of-mouth advertising. Keep in mind, you want to create positive feelings toward your product, so be sure to create a brand image to that end evoking reliability in your image, slogans, and taglines. Be consistent.
Strong brand awareness combined with outstanding service leads to brand preference. This trifecta of marketing aplomb also strengthens your company’s bottom line cementing awareness and preference into profit.
Motivating Your Market to Brand Preference
In any endeavor, research is tantamount to understanding the underlying wants, needs, and desires of prospective customers. From that research, you can study what drives consumer behaviors and see how that affects your product, consumer’s awareness of it in the marketplace, and ultimately their preference of it.
Knowing what your customer values can lead to a loyal customer with a strong brand preference. Talk to an iPhone user about why they prefer iPhone to Android. Do the same with an Android user and you’ll find that each is strongly attached to their brand and loyal to its image. Do they repeat what the marketing materials say? Yes, they do. And that’s what you want customers to say about your product. They may have been aware of you and even chosen to purchase a product because another may not have been available, but if courted properly, you’ll build that customer relationship into loyalty to your brand.
How do you build the customer relationship? Through engagement. On social media, you’re engaging existing and prospective customers in both direct and interactive channels. Your website, your social media platforms, these are your digital store fronts. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, it’s the smile when someone walks in the door, it’s the handshake, and the sincere “How can I help you”? It’s the personal, individualized attention, the “Hello, how are you? Try our latest….whatever. Let us know what you think. We want your opinion”. The same verbiage can be used online as well.
The Bottom Line
A brand, ultimately, evokes a feeling and meaning giving your company a persona. Everything you put into your brand – name, logo, design, slogans, content, blog, website – everything should be like an arrow pointing out what makes you great. What makes you different from your competition?
The importance of brand awareness is its measurement of how well you’re known. Brand preference is the impact of that awareness.