Do you know how when you are shopping for a product, you are more likely to choose a brand that you have heard of before, rather than one that is totally unfamiliar to you? That’s called brand awareness, and it plays a big role in shaping our purchasing decisions.
Brand awareness is all about how familiar consumers are with a particular brand, and depending on that, they would be more likely to consider it when making a purchase. That’s why building brand awareness is such an important part of any marketing strategy: it could be a decision changer.
To get to this point, we need to pass the old-ways of thinking. People are aware no brand is perfect, and they are not looking for that. It’s important to communicate a message that actually is appealing to the consumer to build that kind of relationship where a person sees a brand and feels connected to it, the “I won’t even hesitate” while they take the product or buy the service.
There are a few different ways that brands can build awareness: traditional advertising, like TV commercials and radio spots, are still on the go, but we can all agree that, these days, it’s all about being strongly present in social media and as we indicated in our State of Influencer Marketing report, using influencer marketing is on the top list of marketing strategies in every 8 out of 10 marketers.
By partnering with influencers who have a deep influence in some consumers, brands can reach a wider audience and get their name in front of more people, but without the “I just want you to buy me” tag; when people see their favourite influencer using or promoting a particular product, they’re more likely to remember the brand and consider it in the future, or the feel the FOMO if they don’t belong to the “brand group”.
Actually, as we reported in our study based on Communications Matters data, 66% of Gen-Zers are more likely to trust recommendations from friends, family members, or influencers on social platforms. More than just that, 82% have purchased, researched or considered purchasing a product or service after seeing friends, family, or influencers post about it.
Of course, it’s not just about getting your brand in front of people, it’s also important to make sure that your brand is memorable and stands out from the competition. This is where things like branding, messaging, and product design come into the equation: by creating a unique and memorable brand identity, driving the correct message, you can make yourself room in the mind of the consumers.
Overall, brand awareness is all about making sure that people know who you are and what you have to say, but here comes a tricky situation: being aligned with your target and consumer values needs to be based on real actions, and not being there just by words.
One key to building your brand image is brand trust. When you build trust in your brand, you solidify your image in the minds of consumers.”–Forbes, 2023
Being “woke”: what’s the strategy?
The answer is: it’s not a strategy. Or, at least, it should not.
The highlighted audience of these past years and upcoming ones are the Gen-Zers and Millennials, both audiences that are strongly committed to social causes, taking action in protecting their moral values and changing the cultural rules to build a better future. Words like revolution, deconstruction and emotional responsibility are strongly present in their daily vocabulary. For them a classic ad with the benefits of the brand is not the way to go, so we need to care about what they care about, and we need to be in their relevant topics to be considered one of them.
A brand can be considered “woke” if it demonstrates a commitment to this social justice concept and equity in its practices and messaging. This can include taking a stance on issues related to race, gender, and other marginalised groups, actively engaging in social and political causes, and promoting diversity and inclusivity in its products and marketing. This last scenario is extremely important, since we need to actually care for all types of people, and not only the ideal buyer.
However, it’s also important to note that being “woke” is not just about making statements or using the right buzzwords. A brand that wants to be seen as “woke” must also be willing to take action and make real changes to its practices and policies: diversifying its workforce, promoting equitable hiring and promotion practices, and supporting causes that align with its values; actions that sometimes are not published in some media or drive leads, but that’s what being empathetic is about: we cannot do it for the likes.
It’s indispensable for brands to be authentic and transparent in their messaging and practices, since consumers are increasingly aware of “woke-washing”, where brands use social justice causes as a marketing ploy without actually making substantive changes to their practices, and this can lead to the feared cancellation on social media. In order to be seen as truly “woke”, a brand must be willing to back up its messaging with real action and demonstrate a genuine commitment to the social cause they stand for.
Influencer’s role in brand awareness
Influencers can play an important role in a brand’s awareness strategy since they can help humanise a brand and make it more relatable to consumers, create a sense of social proof, as consumers may be more likely to trust the opinions and recommendations of people they follow on social media, ultimately, a brand can drive its values through the right choice of influencer representation.
Influencer marketing can help brands reach niche or hard-to-reach audiences. For example, if a brand wants to target a specific demographic or group, they can partner with micro influencers who have a large following within that group. This can be particularly effective for brands that operate in niche or specialised markets, and at SAMY we have studied these niche decentralised communities to understand how to get brands in there without disrupting the environment they protect so dearly.
However, it’s important to note that influencer marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it cannot protect a brand from woke-washing and, without the proper selection, it can backfire the communication of a brand to be involved with certain digital-famous people. It’s important for any brands to carefully consider their target audience, messaging, and overall marketing strategy before investing in influencer marketing, and not stopping at that point. Brands should be transparent about their partnerships with influencers and ensure that any sponsored content is clearly labelled as such.
Cancel culture is another proof that Gen-Z and Zillennials are, each day, taking more control over their digital spaces and are willing to fight for the protection of their ideals, and will call out any practice that they consider dishonest. According to the Insider, some see it as a necessary means of holding people accountable for their actions, while others view it as a form of “justice” that can create a toxic and intolerant environment. Whether it’s a good practice or not, brands need to be aware of the damage it can represent to the reputation of the brand, and the only way they can protect themselves from cancel culture is by being coherent and authentic with their actions and words, monitoring social media, having a crisis communication plan in place, engaging through different channels, and taking responsibility and action if needed.