Creating Brand Awareness for Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises

What Is Brand Awareness And Why Is It Important?  

At first glance, you may take the phrase “brand awareness” at face value – having consumers be aware your brand exists. But, brand awareness is much more than that and “awareness” goes much deeper. Yes, your consumers need to know your brand exists. But, they also need to have your brand consciously arise in their memory when they are looking to solve a problem. They need to recall it and recognize it as a worthy candidate among the options they have to solve their problem.

For social impact businesses, brand awareness is even more important. You don’t simply run a business for profit – you are purpose-led. The stakes are higher because your profit fuels the impact of your purpose. So, it’s essential your target audience has awareness of your brand and has the right impression about it.

Brand Perception: It Matters What Your Audience Thinks

The way your target audience perceives you will inform the way they think when it comes to making buying decisions and when talking about your brand to others. It will influence their:

  • Trust in your company and employees
  • Confidence in your messages, values, and statements
  • Willingness, resistance, or excitement to promote your products or services to others
  • Belief that your mission and purpose is truly solving a social issue or making the world a better place, not just using “social good” as a marketing message

People can form strong opinions about a brand and once a negative belief or perception is formed, it’s very difficult to shift that belief to a positive. 

How Consumers Think About Social Impact Brands

How Consumers Think About Social Impact Brands

73% of businesses I’ve audited were actually repelling customers due to a lack of differentiation, mixed messaging, and absence of a clear purpose. This is unfortunate because when a business invests in clear messaging and branding that communicates its value and purpose, they are able to attract a wider audience of their target market and grow awareness for their brand.

Consumers care about much more than the product or service they’re searching for. When brands can communicate the value of their rich brand in a simple way, they win.

Here are some revealing statistics related to how consumers think when it comes to social issues and business:

Knowing how consumers think will help you build the know, like, trust factor into your brand so that you can increase brand awareness and brand recognition.

Building The Know, Like, Trust Factor Into Your Purpose-led Brand

You’ve likely heard the phrase “know, like, and trust”. This KLT factor is critical for building brand awareness, especially for social purpose brands. Let’s break it down a little more:

  • KNOW – In order for people to have a perception or belief about your brand, they have to know even it exists. That means you have to be visible to the right people at the right times.
  • LIKE – you have to offer something to your intended audience that they can relate, connect, and grow loyal to. Your ideal clients and customers need to know that you understand and care about them, but they won’t unless you invest time into developing your brand. And you have to know what they like to be likeable. 
  • TRUST – This is the biggest one. You can be visible and likeable, but if people are skeptical of you, you have a big problem because they’ll never buy from or work with you.

Some of the factors that influence brand perception can be improved internally – like positioning, brand visuals, messaging, product quality, customer service, and more. 

But, sometimes external factors influence that perception. These could be things like customer reviews on public forums, negative word-of-mouth interactions, and bad PR. These types of negative assumptions can harm socially conscious brands even more than traditional businesses because consumers expect more from them.

Regardless of where the influence comes from, it’s important to recognize that audience perception of your brand is crucial to its survival. For that reason, you want to help your company present an authentic and relevant brand image.

Your Brand Conscious: Presenting an Authentic & Relevant Brand Image

Your Brand Conscious: Presenting an Authentic & Relevant Brand Image

People connect to people, not logos or companies. This is especially true for purpose-led companies, where a focus on humanity is expected. For this reason, you should humanize your brand and give it a unique voice by going through a process of brand self-discovery and individuation.

This process is effective at establishing a human connection with your audience, regardless of whether you have a personal brand, small business, corporate business, non-profit organization, or other type of brand. 

To really uncover your true unique value and present an authentic, relevant image, you have to take a step back from yourself, your team, and your business and get some outside perspective. That’s why it can be incredibly valuable to have an outside consultant help you with your brand identity and image strategy.

Sometimes, you have to put what you think is your differentiator aside and look at what your ideal audience members most value about you to find your “it” factor – your big, meaningful message. This is why it’s such a huge part of the process I use for my own clients through Brandividuation.

What is really going to set you apart is being able to pull together seemingly different things and connect the common threads what:

  • your clients care about when it comes to them.
  • your clients care about when it comes to you.
  • you care about.

When you’re clear about what matters to you and your audience, you’ll want to show your audience the humanity behind the brand –

  • Get clear on the beliefs, purpose, values, and goals that guide the company. Work these into onboarding new team members, ongoing operations, business development, and consumer relations
  • Ensure you have brand and messaging guidelines so that your team members can align their responsibilities to them, participate in forming the brand culture, and maintain company values when representing the brand
  • Get to know your consumers and what they care about, then communicate that you understand them
  • Tie your company origin story, employee stories, and customer stories into your services and products. Let people know you have a viable solution while helping them connect and relate.
  • Have conversations that paint the picture of the solutions, not just advertising or content that comes across as a sales pitch.

Making brand identity and image development and strategy for your mission-driven business a priority is going to give your team clarity for more effective communication with your target audience. You’ll have much more influence on the perception they have of your brand.

Brand Awareness & Marketing Work Together

Brand Awareness & Marketing Work Together

Marketing can help you grow your purpose-led brand’s awareness. As you grow awareness for your brand through marketing, your branding will have an affect on how people perceive your brand. 

When people encounter your brand for the first time, they gain awareness and form an initial opinion about it. 

People talk about your brand to others (word-of-mouth brand awareness),and it influences the perception more people have. There are some marketing strategies that can help when it comes to encouraging customers and audience members to promote your business to others. One example is offering a referral incentive.

You may decide to run ad campaigns for your brand, which will get it in front of new audiences and grow brand awareness. 

Another marketing focus is social media marketing, which has a significant impact on brand awareness. The strategies, messages, and images the marketing team decides to use will directly impact what people think about your brand.

Public relations (PR) and community involvement will also have an impact on brand awareness, depending on what positive and negative news is shared about what you’re doing.

It’s also important to note that your visual brand elements alone and in combination trigger signals in the brain that inform what people think. There are many reasons – color psychology comes into play, the level of professionalism expressed through your images and graphics, the symbols your logos may represent, and more.

When you publish marketing campaigns and assets, they will most likely include your branding elements – which means they are a piece of the picture your audience gets to form an opinion about.

Many businesses have brand and marketing departments that work in silos and don’t interact with each other often. This is a mistake. Your branding and marketing should work together – because together, they influence the perception people have of your values-focused brand.

Getting Brand Exposure and Visibility

As noted above, there are many activities your team can focus on to earn visibility and recognition for your social impact business. You can get positive exposure and increase awareness for your brand by:

  • Sharing stories of your brand, customers, and activities on your marketing channels
  • Being consistently visible and active on social media platforms where your target audience frequents
  • Earning PR opportunities that shine a light on your differentiators, results, thought leadership, processes and frameworks, products or services, and announcements
  • Running ad campaigns to get in front of new market segments or audiences
  • Speaking or teaching your knowledge for other people’s audiences
  • Optimizing your website SEO and consistently publishing new relevant content to get new organic visitors to your site
  • Partnering with other businesses and organizations to offer something to a shared audience segment and offer value

There are numerous ways you can earn exposure and visibility. Remember, it’s more effective and powerful to focus on a couple initiatives that you can execute well and will bring you the most results than trying as many tactics as you can with poor execution or commitment. 

How Brand Awareness Is Measured 

Keeping an eye on your metrics will help you see which campaigns and initiatives are working to increase awareness for your brand. There are several ways to measure your brand awareness. Some include:

  • Monitoring your social media metrics. You can do this with a tool like HubSpot, Sprout Social, or Google Analytics
  • Reviewing analytics of your site with HubSpot or Google Analytics
  • Using surveys to get insights about perceptions of your audience or target audience, like Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or Typeform

If you want a custom dashboard to measure your brand awareness and reputation across platforms, you can use a tool like HubSpot (for small and medium businesses and enterprises) or tools from Lanie Lamarre, marketing data consultant.

How Does Brand Awareness Impact Sales? 

Brands that become irresistibly in demand by setting themselves apart with a clearly defined unique brand identity and voice get more leads and close more sales. As stated earlier in this article, people care about and buy from brands they believe in.

Another thing to note is that the scarcity factor works with brands, not just products and services. If there aren’t others like you, people know your availability is limited and will want to work with you. When you are willing to develop your brand authentically and effectively, others relate to it in a more authentic way, becoming more trusting of your brand. 

If there are 13 SAAS companies that offer a similar product and only one of them is a b-corp that has social impact goals built into their business model, for example, that could be the differentiator that influences awareness growth and sales. But, if that company doesn’t communicate the vision behind their business model, consumer knowledge is nonexistent and they may get passed over.
When a brand has a solid identity that is evident, relatable, and unique, people are drawn to them. Brand awareness increases audience size, which increases the number of leads you bring to your business. When it comes to making sales for your products or services, it’s all a numbers game and the more leads you get, the more you have to close.

Creating Brand Awareness for Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises

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Hey there – I’m Amber Brooks, the founder of Brandividuation®. Having served as a marketing consultant, content director, marketing producer, and brand strategist, I’ve helped businesses and leaders, from startup to multi-billion dollar revenue enterprises develop brand messaging and marketing initiatives that get results. 

 

I use surveys, interviews, and research to find out things you never knew (but always wished you did) about your ideal audience. I also help you, the Visionary, get everything out of your head and help your team embrace the bigger purpose. This allows purpose-fueled teams to explain, embody, and sell what they do for better outcomes and more impact.

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