How well do customers recognize your brand? When they hear the name of your company, do they immediately know who you are? Having a solid brand awareness can be a predictor of the organization’s success over time. For this reason, today we will see some of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness for small businesses.
Now, I am not going to enter into detail on why brand awareness is important. I think we can all agree that having a more recognizable, popular and trusted brand will almost always drive more sales.
Also, one more thing! Some links on this article are affiliate, which means that I will earn a small commission if you end up purchasing after clicking. But only if your purchase, not from the clicking itself!
So, without wasting any time, let’s jump right into some of the best ways to increase brand awareness for small businesses:
Although I am not ordering this list by importance, I wanted to start it with content because it’s probably the best way to generate brand awareness organically. In other words, as a small business, you will be able to work on your brand without having to invest in paid ads.
Of course, writing content may require some resources in terms of time and talent. However, once you’ve written the content, you can benefit from it for years to come. With paid advertising, you stop getting the traffic at the moment you stop paying for it.
So, what makes content so important?
There are multiple reasons why:
- Content provides value to your audience and is easily shareable online, especially on social media. If your content is great, users will share it around, increasing your small business awareness.
- It helps you establish yourself as an expert in a certain niche, sector, or topic, which increases your relevance in this sector;
- Helpful content that answers people’s questions for free will make them trust you later down the road, when they decide to purchase;
On top of that, an SEO-optimized content can easily skyrocket your organic traffic. However, we will see that in the next section. Here are some examples of content that you can write:
- Blog posts;
- Online courses;
And a lot more! The point is to be proactive and provide relevant information to help users without the sheer intent of selling something right on the spot. When they see that you have all the good intentions of helping, they will not only read and share your content.
But will also remember that further down the road when they are considering the purchase.
Increase brand awareness #1: Leverage the power of content
A great example of a good content strategy is Hubspot. They not only have a great blog with hundreds of helpful articles, but also a free online course academy, and plenty of free tools (affiliate links):
- Marketing Plan Generator;
- Make a Buyer Persona tool;
- Blog Topic Generator;
- Online Course for Inbound Marketing;
And a lot more!
2. SEO Optimization
As we already mentioned, optimizing your content for search engines is another great way to increase brand awareness. A good SEO strategy will help users find your website more easily on the Internet, and most importantly, for the right keywords.
For example, you could optimize your content for keywords such as “best marketing agency”, “top restaurants in Madrid”, or “graphic design tool”. The point is, showing up on Google when people are looking for a product like yours will definitely make your brand more recognizable.
Increase brand awareness #2: Optimize your content for search engines
And will probably drive more sales!
Of course, you can also optimize for keywords that are more on top of the funnel. For example, if you are a Marketing agency, you could write blog posts on “best marketing strategies”, “top tips for beginner Marketers”, and so on. This will boost your traffic and make you an expert on a certain topic.
A company that does a great job with their Search Engine Optimization is Hootsuite:
The social tool shows up for a lot of search terms on Google related to social media. They are probably getting a crazy traffic from that! Which helps people discover and learn about their brand.
3. Unique Brand identity
Having a unique brand identity can definitely make you stand out from the crowd. Not only in real life, but also on the Internet. An example of this is having a distinctive combination of brand colours and style, such as Mangools:
Increase brand awareness #3: Stand out with a unique brand identity
Their colours, designs and style are so distinctive that for me, I only had to see them once to remember the brand forever. They made Mangools pop up in my head every time I saw an ad with these colours and illustrations, even if I didn’t see the text nor the logo of the ad yet.
4. Influencer Marketing
Another great way to increase brand awareness is to involve your people with social power in the process. Hiring social media influencers to spread the word is a highly efficient way to reach their loyal communities. Some influencers have hundreds of millions of followers!
Increase brand awareness #4: Reach specific audiences with Influencer Marketing
Of course, Influencer Marketing is a method that can also be quite more expensive than others. Especially if we are talking about a popular influencer who charges thousands of dollars for a single post.
However, if this is out of your budget, you can also look for local influencers with small, but strong communities. In fact, some micro influencers (less than 100,000 followers) have much higher engagement rates than bigger ones.
Also, in some cases, you can offer to send products for reviews instead of paying actual money. Getting a review from an influencer can get definitely increase brand awareness! If you want to read more on the topic, you might like the following articles from my blog:
- Influencer Marketing: Behind the scenes with Daniel Sánchez, CEO and Co-Founder of Influencity
- Top 11 Ways to Increase Instagram Engagement (+Examples)
5. Affiliate Marketing program
We just talked about involving influencers into your brand recognition process. However, this is not all; you can also involve happy customers!
Many companies have their own Affiliate Marketing program so that current users can spread the word in exchange for a commission. A very famous example, also one of the oldest Affiliate programs in the world, is Amazon Associates:
Increase brand awareness #5: Try out an Affiliate Marketing program
Which allows members to earn commissions by promoting Amazon products. This strategy is great not only because you have happy customers selling for you, but also because you don’t pay them anything until they have actually made the sale!
Which, in the case of Influencer Marketing is not always the case. More often than not, companies pay before the campaign, without knowing if it will give any results.
Having an Affiliate Marketing program will not only drive you more sales, but will also spread the word between current and potential customers.
6. Free merchandise
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular ways to increase brand awareness is by giving away free merchandise. For example, a local real estate agency in my town gives free napkins to bars and restaurants with their name and website on it.
Increase brand awareness #6: Offer free merchandise
They also provide merchandised paper bags for baguettes to local shops for food! This sneaky way is cheap, and very efficient to get more people to know and recognize your business.
Of course, the free merchandise can also be given directly to final users. For example, branded pens or folders to people who are requesting more information about your services.
7. Display ads
Running Google Display Network ads is another efficient way to spread awareness all over the Internet. These ads get millions of impressions, which means that millions of users will see them at least once. In many cases, much more than once!
Making your display ads unique and memorable will certainly boost your brand recognition. For example, this bright pink ad from Mailchimp:
Or this attention-grabbing green ad…from Mailchimp:
Increase brand awareness #7: Discover the impact of Display ads
Ads that draw the attention like that are a sure way to make people remember Mailchimp!
You can check my article 53 Outstanding Google Display Network Examples for more ads like that!
8. Social Media ads
While we are still on the topic of ads, I think it’s safe to say that they are another highly efficient way to gain more brand recognition. According to Statista, there are currently over 3 billion social media users worldwide!
This means that half of the world’s entire population has at least one social media channel. It is crazy to even think about it, right? The key with social media ads, and just any ads, is to keep your brand colours and identity in harmony throughout all channels.
This way, you will make sure that people will remember your brand. And will immediately think of you the next time they see another ad, or an image, or a source with these colours and style. A company that does a great job with their branding strategy is Salesforce:
This is an ad on LinkedIn. And this one is on Facebook:
Increase brand awareness #8: Reach your target audience with social media ads
And, as a bonus, this one is from Google:
Quite obvious that these ads are from the same company, right? Well, this is what you should strive for with all of your visuals within your branding strategy! Not only ads. If your branding strategy is not consistent, it will be hard for people to remember you and recognize you.
9. Social Media Contests
Running social media competitions are another way you can increase your reach and brand visibility. People will not only get excited to participate, but will also share with their friends and families. Especially if the contest requires to get as many votes or likes as possible.
And, as a result, more people will learn about your brand organically.
10. Organize events
Organizing events within your industry has a lot of benefits. It shows that you are a relevant player, displays your expertise, and of course, helps to increase brand awareness by drawing a lot of people in.
People who register will tell about it to their friends and family. And they will probably spread the word even further!
Of course, organizing face-to-face events can be more expensive and time-consuming, and it might not fit everyoney´s budget. Or maybe, your audience is not that easily reachable through face-to-face events. A great alternative are webinars and online events:
Increase brand awareness #10: Invite your target audience to free events
They are becoming increasingly popular, and make it easier for busy people to assist. So, definitely take advantage of this possibility!
11. Offer a free trial
People love free stuff. And, when they find something for free, they will usually get excited to share it around. Of course, the main benefit of offering a free trial is not brand awareness (it has many!), but it is definitely one of them.
For example, this week I got so excited about the free trial promoting the launch of Disney+, that I told everyone about it!
Increase brand awareness #11: Offer a free trial to generate more subscriptions
The point is, making it easier for people to access your product will encourage more of them to try it. And the word spreads much faster! It doesn’t have to be a free trial – it can be a demo, or make a part of the product free forever.
For example, the basic version of Hubspot’s CRM is always free:
Which is a great way to get more people to talk about your product!
12. Create viral content
Creating viral, non-promotional content is another awesome way to increase brand recognition in a subtle and organic manner. Typically, viral posts or videos that people will want to share with friends are more often humoristic or informational than promotional.
For example, Petco published this video to spread awareness about the current coronavirus situation, and the importance of social distancing:
Click on the image to see the video!
As you can see, it got 274 likes and 124 shares, which is a great boost for their brand!
Of course, another example that you might know is this viral song from Metro Trains Melbourne:
Increase brand awareness #12: Gain visibility through viral content
Although infographics could have been easily added to our first section, I wanted to dedicate them a special one. Why? Because infographics are among the most shared pieces of content on the Internet.
A well-made infographic can go viral, and reach thousands of people, thus helping you to increase brand awareness. Especially if it’s carefully made with your brand colours and styles.
If you don’t have a graphic designer, you can use free tools and templates such as Canva. You can also try Canva Pro for free (affiliate link) – after that, it only costs €8.99 per month if you pay annually, and €11.99 per month if you pay monthly. And you can cancel anytime.
Increase brand awareness #13: Convert your content into beautiful infographics
14. Referral programs
We already talked about Affiliate Marketing.
Referral programs are very similar to Affiliate programs. The key difference is that referral programs are created for current customers so they can get an incentive each time a friend signs up successfully. And, instead of receiving commissions, they get rewards for the service they´re using.
For example, a one-time discount, gift cards, a service upgrade, or credits for premium features. In comparison, Affiliate programs usually give monetary compensations to actual marketers, bloggers, influencers, or industry leaders. And they don’t necessarily have to be customers, although it’s highly recommended.
One example for a successful referral program is Dropbox:
Increase brand awareness #14: Leverage the power of referral programs
They allow you to earn incentives such as extra space by inviting friends to join.
15. Guest blogging
This method for spreading brand awareness works two ways:
- You can invite guest bloggers over to your company’s blog, so they can publish a guest article on it. This way, you establish a connection so you can reach the community of the blogger, which, ideally, should be potential customers for your business. There is no use in inviting bloggers who have nothing to do with your industry – neither for you, nor for them.
- You can be the guest blogger – writing guest posts for other bloggers or influencers is another way for building your industry network, and reach other audiences that could turn into potential customers.
In both ways, you end up gaining more visibility for your brand!
16. Polls, Surveys & Quizzes
People love sharing their opinions and thoughts with the world. You can publish polls & surveys not only on your website, but also on social media channels. They can be in the forms of quizzes with right or wrong answers, or simply what they think about something.
For example, this quick quiz by IE Business School on Instagram story:
Increase brand awareness #16: Interact with your audience through surveys and quizzes
17. Social interaction
An alternative to polls and surveys is a simple publication to interact with your customers! Or, in other words, making them direct questions to answer in the comments, like these ones from Slack on Facebook:
Increase brand awareness #17: Engage with your audience on social media
18. Social media posts
And of course, we have to mention consistent organic publication on social media. How often you should publish will depend on the channels that you have chosen to post on. However, it is important to be consistent with it, not only to keep current followers happy, but also to keep algorithms happy.
The thing is, social media channels like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn want people, and companies, to use them as much as possible. This usually means that their algorithms will incentivize Company pages that publish more often over those that don’t.
Increase brand awareness #18: Publish valuable content frequently
This means that consistent publishing will usually increase your impressions (the number of times a post was viewed) and user reach over time. Along with other metrics, of course.
And there are many branding metrics available to help you obtain a precise and reliable idea of how strong your brand is and here are certain examples of brand health metrics you might want to take a look at.
Which, consequently, will also increase brand awareness as your social content will reach new members.
One of the biggest reasons why companies do sponsorships is precisely to gain more brand recognition. Think of all the moving ads you see in basketball courts or football stadiums. Organizations know that this will not get them an instant increase in sales, but instead will generate brand recognition over time.
Another great example are Formula 1 cars:
Increase brand awareness #20: Use a part of your budget for sponsorships
20. Event speakers
Having key figures such as the company´s CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, Director of Business Development, or an employee with huge expertise and good communication skills speak at important events is another way to increase brand awareness.
Not only because he will mention the company during the presentation, but also because it will be all around on the website and communications of the event:
Increase brand awareness #20: Speak at events
This is an example from the Mobile World Congress, an annual event and the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry. It is visited by more than 100,000 people every year! We can only imagine the boost that a company can get from speaking in front such an audience.
21. Press Releases
If there are important news involving your business, for example an achievement or a new partner collaboration, you can share it in your local newspaper. If the news is big enough, you can also do an official press release and send it to multiple newspapers and agencies.
This will certainly increase your exposure, and will make your brand recognizable by more people.
Hashtags are a great way to reach people who don’t have your brand in their radar yet, but are interested in the industry or the product. For example, if you are selling sports shoes, using hashtags such as #sports, #running or #sportsshoes might attract the right audience.
Or maybe, you can join hashtags that support iniciatives or current trends, such as this one from Hubspot for the International Women´s Day:
Or this one from LinkedIn for the National Doctor´s Day:
Increase brand awareness #22: Gain visibility through hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to reach more brand exposure.
Gamification is the application of game playing elements to other areas of activity. For example, it is a very common online Marketing technique to encourage engagement with users. And keep them entertained!
Gamification is a great way to make your brand more memorable. But also for users to associate it with positive feelings and experiences.
An awesome example of this is Starbucks, and their Rewards program:
Increase brand awareness #23: Incorporate gamification elements
It converts coffee buying into a fun and interactive experience which gives you rewards in return. And makes you want to share it with family and friends!
24. Local Partnerships
Another way to build your brand strategy and get more exposure is through local partnerships. This is especially important for companies that are expanding internationally and do not know the new market yet. And the market doesn´t know them either.
In a similar way to guest blogging, local partnerships allow you to reach the existing audiences or customers of your partner. Which will help you increase brand awareness in new grounds.
25. Custom car design
Branding your company cars is a cheap and efficient way to get people to know your brand while your employees are driving around:
Increase brand awareness #25: Get custom car design
Which, as a consequence, will result in a subtle and organic way to increase brand awareness.
26. Employee uniforms
The same is true for employee uniforms. They do not have to be something elaborate or custom-made. Sometimes, just a unique detail that every employee can wear is enough, like a tie with the brand colours.
For example, real estate agents working in the Spanish company RedPiso are easily and immediately distinguished by their “corbata roja“. Which means “red tie”!
As for the rest of the outfit, they can wear any suit they want within the colour guidelines. In other words, they are not wearing a specific uniform, but the outfits of the employees are in harmony across the whole chain.
And people recognize the brand instantly.
Other companies like Starbucks are easily recognizable by their green apron over their regular clothes:
Increase brand awareness #26: Make your brand recognizable through uniforms
27. Exclusive access / beta launch
Offering early access to exclusive products, or services that are still in beta, creates the illusion of exclusivity. This is a greate way to generate buzz and make those few lucky people feel special. And those who weren’t as lucky will be impatiently waiting for their chance as well.
Let’s be honest, we often desire more what we don’t have. So, spreading the word that you offer something that only a few people will get will help you increase brand awareness.
28. Limited editions
Something similar happens with limited editions. Many clothing companies do limited edition collections with (or without celebrities), which get people excited, and the word spreads faster:
It always improves your brand recognition and reputation in a way that people associate you with that celebrity:
Increase brand awareness #28: Launch limited edition products
Psychologically, seeing that a celebrity wears something will make us want to wear it as well. So we can feel as cool as them 🙂
In Marketing, storytelling is the technique of using narrative to communicate something to your audience. Using storytelling in your brand presentations, campaigns and content is a great way to make your brand more memorable.
Think of Milka and their “legend” about the famous purple cow:
Increase brand awareness #28: Use the power of storytelling
Another way to increase brand awareness is remarketing. It allows you to collect cookies from users who already visited your website, so you can impact them again with more personalized ads. For example, if they left without purchasing, you can impact them with a second ad to convince them to purchase.
Well, remarketing ads are placed all around the Internet, on other websites that users visit. Which means that they will be seeing your ads and brand everywhere. On their favourite webs and blogs, while shopping, or simply looking for information. This will not only improve your conversion rates, but will also increase brand awareness.
And that was all from me, folks! As always, I hope you enjoyed my article, and I hope to see you in the next one! Thank you for taking the time to read it.