“Great customer service can drive brand awareness by encouraging customers to rave about how they were treated.”
Great software companies like Hubspot, Intercom and Buffer are known and respected not just by the teams that rely on them, but even by people who don’t work in technology at all.
Companies that enjoy high brand awareness do a few things right. Their marketing team is laser focused on communicating what their company is all about, they measure and obsess over brand recognition, and most importantly, they deliver a customer experience that backs up what their marketing team is communicating.
In this article, we look at brand awareness, how to measure it and how customer experience might be the secret sauce your brand strategy is missing.
What is Brand Awareness?
Brand awareness is a measurement of how familiar people are with your company’s products, services and overall ethos. It’s not just that people know about your company. It’s also how well they know and understand exactly what you do. “People”, in this case, refers to both potential customers and existing customers. If you have high brand awareness, you could also say your brand is popular.
Having brand awareness is important because it makes selling to customers easier. If leads and prospects already know who you are, it’s much easier to convert them into paying customers because you can skip right past the introductions.
Brand awareness can differ between your existing customers too. Customers who are highly attuned to who you are as a brand are often better advocates because they know exactly how to speak about you to their friends and family. Increasing brand awareness amongst existing customers can also promote upselling or cross-selling as they learn more about your other products or features.
Because of all the great benefits of brand awareness, having it actually increases your brand equity. The value of your brand is influenced by the experiences your customers have and their overall perception of your company.
Having brand equity means customers value your brand more – they trust that you will do what you say you will. That trust is valuable to your business – hence the term “brand equity”.
Measuring Brand Awareness
Putting a number to awareness can seem a difficult task. It’s a pretty nebulous concept to try and understand how many people are “aware” of you. But there are a few measurements, customer surveys and metrics that you can use to understand the current state of your brand awareness. Being able to measure what people think of your brand is the first step to improving perception.
The first metric is brand recall. This measures how well people can recall your brand name. For example, if you asked 100 people what brands they associated with ice cream, how many would say Ben and Jerry’s? Because they have high brand recall, it’s likely many of those 100 people would offer up Ben and Jerry’s unprompted.
The second metric is brand recognition. This measures how well customers recognize your brand amongst a list of alternatives. To measure the brand recognition of Ben and Jerry’s you might ask the following question:
Which of these 5 ice cream brands have you heard of before?
- Halo Top
- Ben and Jerry’s
- President’s Choice
- Haagen Dazs
Finally, you need to measure not only whether customers know about your brand, but also what they know about your brand. What words or feelings do customers associate with your company? These descriptors are brand attributes.
In order to measure brand attributes, you can either ask customers to suggest their own attributes (ie. What words come to mind when you think of Ben and Jerry’s?) or ask them to choose from a list of potential attributes. These results are often presented within the context of demographics, like “women aged 18-35.”
Which words best describe Ben and Jerry’s in your opinion?
You can also use the comments from your NPS survey to uncover how your customers think of you. Asking promoters what they told their friends that they recommended you to will help identify the key aspects they value about your brand.
Measuring brand awareness, and the perceptions customers have of your brand, can help identify where your team is not effectively communicating your message. Identifying these opportunities is the first step towards improving brand awareness.
How Customer Experience Can Improve Brand Awareness
If you’re struggling to increase brand awareness, the first place you might want to look is your customer experience. As Sarah Blackstock writes for HelpScout, customer experience (CX) is an accumulation of all the touchpoints a customer has with your brand:
“CX involves all the ways your business interacts with a customer, including and outside of traditional direct, customer-facing service. CX captures how the customer uses your product or service, their interactions with self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your retail store, customer service interactions with the team, and more.”
Brand awareness is heavily influenced by the customer experience. What customers actually see and perceive while they are interacting with your company will have a bigger impact on brand equity than anything marketing might try and sell them.
Customer experience is the new marketing
It only takes one bad response from a customer service team member for your brand to go viral in a bad way. Customers will frequently take to social media to share their experiences with their network.
Great customer service can drive brand awareness by encouraging customers to rave about how they were treated. The classic example is the Ritz Carlton hotel chain that is well loved for their attention to detail and consistently excellent customer experience. Because they take so much care in providing great customer service, they have high brand equity and awareness.
But overall, brands that invest in customer service programs are more successful. Hubspot found that 55% of companies where revenue is growing considering investing in customer service very important. (Compared to just 29% of companies where revenue is stagnant or decreasing).
These companies understand that customer service is the new marketing – the word on how you treat your customers will get out. In order to improve brand awareness, make sure that customers are talking about the good things – not the bad!
Customer experience increases referrals and recommendations
Brand awareness is often build through recommendations by family and friends. A good customer experience results in increased word of mouth. Zendesk found that 51% of customers who’ve had a good customer service interaction recommended the company to friends and family, when they wouldn’t have before. This is equivalent to turning passive NPS respondents into Promoters.
Referrals are also the most credible form of advertising, according to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report: “Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family.”
A good customer experience encourages your customers to spread the good word to their network. It’s also far more effective at increasing brand awareness than any branded marketing would be.
Customer experience creates brand attributes
Remember that brand awareness isn’t just about whether customers are aware of you – it’s also about how they perceive you.
The customer experience is how brand attributes are developed in the minds of your customer. If you want to be known as helpful, fast, or easy to use – you actually need to design a customer experience that executes on these attributes.
Telling a customer that you’re trustworthy can only go so far. At the end of the day, it’s the experience that cements the brand in your customer’s minds. Investing in customer experience means that the perception of every customer who interacts with your company is improved.
Let Customer Experience Drive your Brand Strategy
While marketing teams might not be solely responsible for customer experience, they certainly have a hand in advocating for it. Improving how the customer interacts with your brand will lead to an improved brand awareness overall. Also it sets the foundation for growth in the future.