Marketing in Obscurity: How to Build Brand Awareness That Works

Estimated reading time: 12 minute(s)

We need SEO, you say. We need thought leadership. We want eyeballs. 

We hear you x 50. The first step to creating an online sales engine is brand awareness—whether you build it by optimizing your appeal to search engines, attracting a human audience with smart insights (and yeah, a cool brand identity), plastering the subways with your clever/catchy ads, maybe getting sued by the feds in your home country (and capture tons of publicity), and so forth. In short, customers can’t buy from you if they’ve never heard of you before. 

So let’s talk brand awareness: what it is (and isn’t), why it’s vital, and how to increase it.  

What Brand Awareness Is (and Isn’t)

Simply put, brand awareness makes customers aware you’re here. Technically speaking, you can break it down in two ways: brand recognition and brand recall. 

  • Brand Recognition is the ability of a consumer to identify one brand over other brands. Making this happen requires that a brand present consistent visual and verbal cues. When effectively executed, a brand can be identified without mention of its name. 
  • Brand Recall is the percentage of a target group that can name your brand when prompted with a product category. Prompts are open-ended: “Can you name a laundry detergent?” versus “Have you heard of Tide?” 

The 3 Stinging Myths of Brand Awareness (Ouch!)

In our view, these are 3 common beliefs about brand awareness that (mostly) aren’t true. For b2b brands in particular, this is good news: 

Myth 1: “Branding is for consumer goods.” 

No, silly! Sure, it might not be possible to hold a b2b product in your hand or show it off to friends. But that makes it even more vital that b2b brands build awareness. You have every right to create a powerful brand—and reinforce it with consistent and cohesive messaging. 

Myth 2: “Our logo works—and it drives brand awareness on its own.”

Here’s the thing: catchy logos and snappy slogans are still fantastic. But these tokens are most effective after your brand has already built its identity in the market, e.g. after you’ve paid your dues. Exhibits A to E: Nike, Apple, Toyota, Louis Vuitton, Coca-Cola. There’s a limit to what a logo can do for a brand that’s still somewhat obscure. 

Myth 3: “Brand awareness is emotional.”

There’s truth to this one. Inspiration, motivation, spirit, and love: all play a huge role in brand awareness (to wit: watch these tear-jerking supermarket ads, some made by our friends at 22squared). But brand awareness can also address quotidien things, such as how a brand can meet daily b2b needs. 

Try On These Stats for Size

There’s a caveat to obscurity: People who don’t know you could stumble upon your product..if you find them at the right time. It also requires that you’ve executed some killer SEO

But it’s far more powerful to appeal to all customers: the ones actively searching for products (at the bottom of the funnel) and the ones who don’t yet know they need you. Consider:

The takeaway? Brand awareness distinguishes you from competitors and tells consumers that your product provides superior emotional and functional benefits; brand awareness encourages initial and repeat purchases; and brand awareness increases incremental sales and market share.

Content & Brand Awareness

So how important is marketing content to brand awareness? In a word: very. For b2b brands in particular, your content is everything you convey to consumers. It’s in every campaign you create, every email you send, every Facebook ad you buy, and every web page you create. The more channels that deliver your content, the more brand awareness you engender. 

That doesn’t, however, mean pumping out content ad hoc. To leverage your content’s full brand-building potential, it must provide value to consumers and deliver a uniform message across all touchpoints. Anything short of this, and your brand will toil away: in obscurity. 

Need help building your brand awareness with high-value content? Contact the copywriters at MarketSmiths today. 

Amanda Cargill

Amanda Cargill is a Brooklyn-based writer, video producer, and marketing communications strategist specializing in food, travel, culture and lifestyle content in domestic, multicultural, and international markets.

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