What is Brand Awareness and Why Should You Build It?

Ellie Diamond
Published: Dec 23, 2020
Last Updated:
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When a child falls down and skins their knee, what do they ask for through their anguished tears? A Band-Aid, of course. And when the babysitter runs for that Band-Aid, they’re probably going to grab a Kleenex to dry the child’s tears. Maybe they’ll Google “How to clean a cut” while they’re at it.

You could use any search engine to find out how to clean out a scrape, but Google is first in most people’s minds—so much so that it’s become synonymous with searching for information online. And the bandage in the bathroom cabinet might not be a Band-Aid brand, but Band-Aid is so well-known that even a child asks for it specifically rather than using a non-branded term like “bandage.” The same goes for Kleenex—chances are you’ve heard this word to refer to tissue, even when the actual brand of tissue being used is something else.

Band-Aid, Google, and Kleenex are just a few examples of companies with top-notch brand awareness. Below, we define what exactly brand awareness is, why it matters to all companies and organizations, and how to use content to drive it.

What is brand awareness?

If you haven't heard the term before, here's a simple brand awareness definition from HubSpot:

Brand awareness represents how familiar your target audience is with your brand and how well they recognize it.

Besides Band-Aid, Google, and Kleenex, Starbucks is another great example. People see that familiar green and white logo and a certain image comes to mind. That might be trendy coffee, socially responsible values, or something else entirely, depending on the person—but the image is clear. If you're wondering what brand awareness is, this is it in a nutshell.

Taking Control of Your Brand Awareness

According to SproutSocial, increasing brand awareness is the most popular goal among social marketers.

(Image credit: SproutSocial)

It makes sense. Familiarity breeds trust and trust is becoming more and more important to consumers. A 2018 survey revealed that brand trust has a great deal of impact on purchasing decisions for two-thirds of U.S. buyers. People want to know that a company offers high-quality products or services, gets good reviews, and can be trusted to act ethically.

These why factors are important. It’s not just about people knowing who you are—consumers can know all about a brand but still not want to have anything to do with it.

Consider the recent controversy surrounding Facebook. The social media giant’s logo and name are instantly recognizable, yet the company ranks close to the bottom of the Axios Harris Poll 100, a reputation ranking of some of the biggest brands in America.

Reputation Sciences recently reported that Facebook has one of the worst reputations out there, due to intense and ongoing bad publicity. Here’s just one example:

Every business has brand awareness, good or bad, even if it’s just with its own customers. And if you don’t take control of how people see your brand, someone else will.

Brand Awareness Strategy: Why It Matters

Brand awareness strategy makes publicity a game of skill, rather than a game of chance. It’s the difference between proudly telling your story and sitting quietly in the shadows while other people share what they’ve heard about you.

1. It’s a First Impression

Imagine that someone has heard about your company once or twice. They come across a Facebook ad that you recently posted. How would they complete this sentence?

Oh, it’s [Company]. I heard about how it…

People’s awareness of your brand determines how they process every other message from or about you. It’s the first step to familiarity, and you only get one chance to make that first impression.

When something is this foundational to your company’s success, you can’t let it happen by accident. You need to look at what messages your company sends, across all channels, and make sure those are the messages you want people to hear.

2. It Builds Brand Value

As Facebook has proven, you need to know what other people are saying about your brand. What kinds of reviews are you getting? What kinds of brand mentions do you get on social media?

Positive reviews and mentions lead to the good kind of brand awareness, and that correlates directly to high brand equity. Brand equity is the value a brand holds in the minds and hearts of consumers—in short, a brand’s reputation.

The more brand equity a company has, the better it performs. Strong brand equity leads to:

  • A higher perceived value of your product or service
  • Increased profit margins, because you can charge more when people like you
  • Better customer loyalty, even in leaner times
  • More negotiating power with manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers

Because it helps you take control of how people perceive your company, a brand awareness strategy lets you build brand equity faster and more reliably.

3. It Gives You a Personality

Story is the lynchpin of a good brand awareness campaign. Who are you as a company? Why do you exist and what do you hope to accomplish? A strategy makes sure that you’re the creator of that narrative, not just the subject.

Humans are hardwired for narrative. According to Medium contributor Carl Alvani, we naturally connect with the main character of a story, empathizing with their feelings and projecting our own situations onto that character.

When you build a brand awareness strategy, you become the author of your company’s story. You determine how you want people to resonate with the brand and what values, beliefs, and goals you want them to associate with you. Through this process, you attract the audiences that will connect with your brand the most.

The Role of Content Creation

It’s impossible to talk about brand narrative without discussing content. When you create content, you speak directly to your audiences, and that material immediately becomes part of your brand’s story.

The more types of content you can use to tell your story, the more effectively you can build that all-important positive brand awareness.

Here are just a few examples of types of content you can use to build brand awareness.


A blog is a must-have tool for any digital brand awareness strategy. You can use a blog to develop your voice, connect with your audience, and build a reputation as an authority in your industry. Think of it as your company's diary, but one that you're more than willing to share with the world.


Newsletters help you build brand awareness in your existing audiences. A regular newsletter lets you stay on people’s radar with positive updates, announcements, and educational material, so people keep thinking of you in a positive light.

Site Pages

When people want to learn more about a company, they tend to go to the company’s “About Us” page. When they want to know what the company offers, they look at product or services pages. Your website content is your company’s autobiography, so make sure it says what you want it to say.

The Takeaway

Brand awareness is the foundation for all of your company’s marketing. It determines how well people know your company and the impression they have of it. Every company has brand awareness, whether they manage it intentionally or not.

It's that intentionality—how well you actively cultivate awareness of your brand—that determines your reputation.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Ellie Diamond.


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