How can you ever grow your customer base and sales if your target audience doesn't know or trust your brand? A person's ability to recognise a particular company or brand is referred to as brand awareness. Establishing recognition for a business can foster trust, and this trust can make all the difference between a single transaction and a continuous stream of profits from sustained business.
This is where PR comes into play. A good PR agency will help you craft and refine your brand story and communicate this in a compelling way, so that you can improve brand awareness and reach new audiences.
Here are ten great tips for using PR to improve brand awareness:
1. Define your brand story and tell it
Every brand has a story, but do you know what that story is? If you don’t have a clear idea of what your brand stands for, then it’s unlikely anyone else will either. The first step in developing your brand story is knowing who you are and what you stand for as an organisation. This should be expressed through your mission statement, values and vision and integrated into all communication materials and media content – from press releases to brochures to email newsletters and blogs – so that it comes across consistently across all platforms.
Storytelling can be a powerful tool for businesses. As Anthony Hill said in his book ‘The Brand Builder's Guide to Innovation’, “facts tell and stories sell”. Storytelling allows businesses to engage with their audience in a more personal way, making them more relatable. It can also help businesses reach potential customers by creating an emotional connection that encourages people to buy from them.
A PR firm can identify the best platforms for telling your narrative and showcasing the distinctive aspects of your brand. Features such as ‘My Business Life’ in Think Business and ‘Leaders' Insights’ in Silicon Republic provide this opportunity. Business leaders have a unique story to tell. They’ve overcome challenges, made tough decisions, and taken risks. They’ve also built successful businesses from scratch. By sharing that story and providing those insights, it may resonate with a large network of people.
2. Create useful free content that users can’t resist
Creating value beyond your product is a critical way to build long-term brand awareness. Consider creating content that your followers will want to share rather than trying to make a cold call sale. Your company may possess some extremely valuable knowledge and experience. Use it by creating engaging content that informs, educates, or entertains – in the form of detailed blogs, explainer videos, simple infographics, case studies, surveys, whitepapers, the list is endless - that will make people want to visit your website. One customer may refer others to your business, and before you know it, you have regular website visitors who are interested in your brand and offering.
Public relations experts are natural storytellers, which makes them ideal for assisting with blog content production. Since they know how to interact with the media, they focus on using non-commercial language that journalists will embrace, to craft and convey the company messaging in an engaging and innovative manner.
3. Lockdown your personality and style
An organisation must determine the personality and identity of their brand. A brand personality is a set of characteristics that a customer associates with an organisation. The public perception of a company is shaped by how it acts, what it says, and how it appears.
Your brand personality will differ, depending on your product, service, origin, market, target audience and so on. For instance, if you are a cybersecurity service provider, your personality may centre around protection, safety and trust, however, you may adopt storytelling about cyberattacks to highlight the importance of cybersecurity.
In contrast, your brand identity is the expression of your brand personality. It includes elements such as your logo, brand colours, fonts, tag lines or style of speech. Your company should create a template encompassing all these elements so you stay on brand and consistent.
McDonald's is one of the world's most recognisable and well-known brands. Throughout the worldwide franchises, McDonald’s maintains a consistent brand image. When you walk into your local McDonald's, you'll notice some visual elements that will help you recognise their brand no matter where you are in the world, such as the golden arches of the letter ‘M’ , which can be found outside every restaurant.
At Comit, our first step is to host a messaging workshop which will tease out each client’s unique story and value proposition and turn it into a messaging platform that assures a consistent brand personality.
4. Be consistent
If you want your brand to be memorable, you need to be consistent. Consistent with your messaging, but also with the content you produce, or events you run. Brand consistency tells customers that your company has a strong brand identity and is easy to recognise. Consistency builds trust, and it makes people feel confident purchasing a product or service.
Have you ever passed a billboard and instantly recognised the brand it was for? Being able to recognise an advertisement without having heard the brand name is the quintessential example of brand awareness as a result of consistent marketing. According to 71% of consumers, people are more likely to choose a known brand when purchasing goods or services. Brands that are consistent reap the rewards of being quickly recognisable, which will help you build brand awareness, and acquire your customers' trust.
If you’re producing website content such as blogs or social media posts, this should be done consistently on either a weekly, or monthly basis. If you conduct research like a survey, why not do it annually? It's also a good idea to conduct events or charitable fundraising campaigns on a frequent basis. An annual charity event could significantly boost your brand awareness. Take the VHI Women's Mini Marathon, for instance. This annual occasion and fundraising fits the brand of VHI and marathons as it focuses on tenacity and wellness.
A PR agency will identify the optimum opportunities for your business by consistently delivering your core messaging to enhance the likelihood that your target audience will take notice.
5. Keep up with the latest trends and news
An idea or newsjacking opportunity could be sparked by anything in the news. Newsjacking is a PR term that refers to promoting your business by joining conversations about current events. For instance, the energy problem has been covered extensively in the media lately, with a focus on the energy use of data centres. Data Edge, a company which provides power measuring and management tools to businesses like data centres, saw this as an excellent opportunity to enlighten and educate while also exhibiting their service line that can have a beneficial environmental impact.
Additionally, it's crucial to stay current with the news in order to prevent being perceived as insensitive and tone deaf. If an organisation has laid off staff, it’s best to hold off on announcing any company news that may be classed as out of touch e.g. investments. A PR agency will know how to approach this in the most effective and sensitive manner to secure the most media coverage and aid in building authentic brand awareness.
6. Social media
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that provides the opportunity to improve brand awareness with a highly targeted audience. Not only can you share company updates, but you can connect with employees, and do so in a very direct way, when you use content advertising to target specific demographics with your content.
Twitter, Facebook or Instagram can also be great avenues for raising your brand profile. Ryanair does this particularly well on Twitter. Ryanair has garnered a large following on social media thanks to its sense of humour, which can be seen sharing the latest memes, making subtle jabs at customers, less subtle jabs at government and airport management, and interacting with similar brands. It may seem tongue in cheek, but it’s unique, on brand, and very much fits in with Ryanair’s style. Followers find it interesting and engage with the posts, which again can improve brand awareness among their followers.
Nowadays, a lot of brands interact with one another, either in a competitive manner or in a more cordial way to improve brand awareness and reach larger audiences. Most PR agencies these days also offer social media services for managing and moderating social media platforms. A PR agency will leverage your social media networks, and their own ability to tell stories, to highlight your business and generate positive conversation about your company.
7. Brand partnerships
Brand partnerships with companies that complement your organisation can lead to successful ROI and improve brand awareness. Brands that share your target market but aren't competitors, share your company ethos, and are vocal about wanting to serve your target audience are those that will embellish your organisation.
For example, GE Appliances and Google worked together to develop a line of smart household appliances. The devices, which are powered by Google Cloud Vision AI, are essential for homeowners who now reside in or plan to move into smart homes. They are also environmentally friendly and provide customizable features.
PR professionals can spot what organisational partnerships would be beneficial to yours and will create exciting media and PR opportunities that will put your brand on the map and boost your brand awareness. They can do the heavy lifting in terms of finding the brand, reaching out to them and executing a successful partnership campaign. A PR agency will have media connections that could be keen to promote a partnership event. A big part of this is building up your media network.
Recently we connected Techies Go Green with Guinness Enterprise Centre to create a very powerful sustainability partnership that will bring great benefits to both organisations and enhance both their brands.
8. Build your media network
The more journalists you know, the better. A PR agency is responsible in developing enduring connections with journalists who might be interested in your brand. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, the PR agency you choose to work with will have great contacts. A media network can also be helpful for events. A partnership event, product launch, or seminar will attract some journalists, who in turn can generate coverage for your organisation.
The more journalists that are familiar with you, the better chance you have of securing interviews and media opportunities on an ongoing basis. A network exemplifies the value of human connections and the many benefits they may provide.
9. Influencer marketing
A newer trend that is great for boosting brand awareness is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing involves endorsement of products and services or product placement by an influencer - someone who has an online following through social media platforms.
Influencers with a following between 100K to 1 million followers, such as Roz Purcell, are known as macro influencers. Micro Influencers have between 10K to 100K followers, while nano influencers entail a following of 10K followers or less. It can often be better to spend your budget on working with a few micro influencers, instead of blowing it on one macro influencer. Micro influencers often have a more engaged audience and deliver stronger results for brand campaigns. Influencers with varied reach can create engaging stories across their social channels to achieve authentic awareness for your brand.
Influencers can be found in all sorts of niches, from famous sportspeople to famous businesspeople; maybe even an influential academic. You need to find the person with the right following and level of influence with the audience you want to reach.
A PR agency can establish connections between your company and those who have sway over their target market and create content strategies that support the online connection. PR firms are experts in discovering, researching, and supporting the ideal candidate to raise awareness of your brand.
Sponsorship is another way a PR agency can help a company improve brand awareness. Positive associations with specific organisations or people can help strengthen a brand's image. The wonderful thing about sponsorships is that they allow a company or organisation[AC1] to demonstrate what their brand represents.
One of the most inventive examples of television sponsorship was Dominos Pizza's endorsement of The Simpsons. Dominos wanted to increase brand awareness in order to popularise the business and drive sales. The brand used 30 second ads to create an association between The Simpsons and Dominos Pizza in the mind of the target audience – teenagers.
Similar to influencer marketing, a PR agency can assist a brand in selecting and securing sponsorship in order to improve brand awareness.
The power of public relations cannot be overstated. Investing in an in-house team or partnering with a strong PR agency should assist you in increasing your brand awareness. The right PR agency will be the reason your brand is in the media, consistently recognised, and that people understand what you do and stand for.