The terms Brand Recognition and Brand Awareness are often used interchangeably; however, there is a difference between the two. Both are necessary measurements for determining branding effectiveness, both are crucial to the success of any brand…and both have their own metric and method of measurement.

So without delay, let’s jump into learning to identify each, and then touch on how to build brand recognition and brand awareness.

Brand Recognition and Brand Awareness: Know the Difference

build-brand-recognitionBrand Recognition is just that: how well members of the consuming public can recognise your brand—by colour, shape, name, advertisements, voice, language, etc. When people see McDonald’s golden arches, do they know what restaurant they’re looking at? When they see the Nike swoosh, do they know what company made that hoodie or those running shoes?

When brand recognition is really good, your brand name becomes synonymous with the product or service it provides. Some examples are

  • Band-Aid
  • Formica
  • Hula Hoop
  • Weed Eater
  • Jacuzzi
  • Onesie
  • Post-It
  • Q-Tip
  • Stetson
  • Jeep
  • White-Out
  • Kleenex
  • Dumpster
  • Sharpie
  • Chapstick
  • Scotch Tape
  • Super Glue
  • Zip-loc
  • Windbreaker
  • Trampoline
  • Tupperware
  • Zipper
  • Crock Pot
  • Realtor
  • Photoshop
  • Polaroid
  • Xerox
  • Aspirin
  • Jell-O
  • Styrofoam
  • Frisbee
  • Popsicle
  • Google

I’ll bet you didn’t even realise some of these were brand names, rather than generic product names. Some of them have been used so much they’ve been turned into verbs (e.g. Google it, Photoshop it, Super Glue it).

Some would say that these brands have gone overboard in their efforts to build brand recognition, because now every brand, even generics, are called by their brand names. There are others, like us, who believe this is a great thing: Whenever you can cause your brand name to be on the lips of your ideal clients, it’s a good thing.

Brand Awareness is more about pulling the memory of a brand from the ether, when a need for that type of product or service arises. For instance, will consumers think of PowerPoint when it’s time to create that presentation? Or will they open the Uber app when their car is in the shop? Or salivate for Starbucks when they need a pick-me-up?

You can imagine how valuable is it to have both brand recognition and brand awareness on your side.

Now let’s talk about how to achieve them both.

Build Brand Recognition and Brand Awareness

Now that you know the difference between Brand Recognition (recognising a brand when all or part of it is seen, heard, etc.) and Brand Awareness (knowing that a brand exists and pulling up its memory when a need arises), let’s talk about how to build them.

Though both are different metrics for measuring a brand’s (and its branding’s) effectiveness, they’re both built in the following ways:

  • Be Unique: One of the best ways to build brand recognition, and then brand awareness, is to be different than everyone else. If you’re a new version of the same old thing, you’ll struggle to be remembered. This includes being controversial, so if there’s an issue that aligns with your brand’s corporate values, take a stand. You may alienate a portion of the consuming public, but you didn’t want to do business with them anyway.
  • Give Away Merch: What’s the point of pens, paper weights, t-shirts and lip balms (i.e. Chapsticks) with your brand name on them? Is it to give something away, for reciprocity? Well, sort of. It’s more about putting your brand name and logo in front of the same eyes, again and again. If you’re a plumber, and your magnet is on someone’s refrigerator for a year, and they look at that logo every time they get a drink or prepare a meal, you’re likely to be the one they call when a pipe bursts.
  • Nurture Word of Mouth Advertising: Provide incentives to those who make referrals. Make it “cool” to be associated with your brand. Find out what your customers value the most and give them that in exchange for spreading the word about your brand.
  • Get the Backing of Recognised Names: One sure way to get attention is to align your brand with someone or something that already has the attention of your target audience. Consider booking a popular guest speaker, or pairing your product or service with another well-received one.
  • Get in Front of the Right People in the Right Places: Where are your ideal clients hanging out? Where to do they go to talk about the problems your brand solves? Do your research and then put your brand there, right under their noses. And make it repetitive. Show up regularly in social places, wrap a car, put up a billboard, create a banner ad, get onto the placemat or bulletin board at the local diner…be consistently present in the places where your target audience traffic is heaviest. They may not remember your brand the first few times they see it, but if it’s presented again and again, they will begin to recognise it and then become aware of it in times of need or when referral opportunities arise.
  • Provide Value that’s Great Enough to Share: Whether it’s valuable online content or a free downloadable guide, do whatever you can to offer superior value without cost in an effort to build brand recognition and brand awareness. Make it so good that readers/viewers/participants will be eager to share with others, in-person and on social media.

I hope you now have a better understanding of how to build brand recognition and brand awareness, as well as how to tell the difference between the two so you can make adjustments where needed and develop impressive numbers in both realms.

If you have questions, or would like to learn more about how to build brand recognition and awareness, I have the answer: It’s the B.R.A.N.D. Building Bootcamp, a one-day, fully immersive branding experience that will give you the three steps necessary for making your brand more credible, visible and profitable. Get there! But first, get here to register.

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