If You Build It...
How much does brand recognition actually matter? A lot, if you believe the statistics. In a 1990 study by Wayne D. Hoyer and Steven P. Brown, 74.5 percent of participants chose the known brand when "awareness was present but no quality difference existed between brands." And while the study may be a bit dated, the findings are not—it remains one of the most oft-cited and influential examinations of the power of brand awareness.
Small businesses can't afford to ignore those numbers—but that doesn't mean they have to break the bank to build brand recognition. For every Apple or Coca-Cola, there's a thousand businesses that do just fine without multimillion-dollar Super Bowl commercials or logos on every billboard. Thanks to social media, e-commerce, and word-of-mouth made easier by the Internet, there are more avenues for brand-building than ever before, allowing businesses to focus more on target markets and less on big ad spend.
Not sure where to start? Here are six ways businesses of any size can boost brand recognition.
1. Know Your Identity
If you don't know what your brand is about, there's a good chance consumers won't either. That makes it necessary for businesses to first have a clear mission statement and a cohesive identity before attempting to build brand recognition.
"The biggest mistake I have witnessed is when a brand strays from its core competency and creates a campaign that doesn't resonate with the consumer," said Jay Deutsch, co-founder and CEO of BDA Inc., Woodinville, Wash. "Consumers build emotional attachments to brands not because of what the company does, but because of why the company exists. The 'why' allows the consumer to identify with a brand. Figure out why your brand exists and the brand-building decisions become easy."
2. Encourage Word-of-mouth
Jason Black, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Boundless Network, pointed to word-of-mouth as one of the best ways for brands to establish themselves. "The single most important brand recognition strategy would be to have your customers telling your 'brand story' for you," he explained. "This will give you significantly more brand leverage than you telling the story."