25 April 2021|Latest Posts, Launching a business, Marketing, PR, Promotion
For any entrepreneur or founder just starting out, the most challenging and nerve-racking time can be identifying the best time to launch your business, especially in the current climate. As any business leader knows, obscurity is often the biggest concern facing brands. Ultimately, if your target audience doesn’t know who you are, they’re not going to trade with you.
Brand awareness and brand recognition are two vital ingredients to build excitement and anticipation ahead of launching your business. After all, introducing any new product or service to the market requires a lot of preparation upfront. Many months, or perhaps years, of thought and strategic planning has gone into building the business and it’s imperative that this hard work pays off!
Brand recognition vs brand awareness
Brand recognition and brand awareness are terms that are often used interchangeably but they have very distinct definitions. Simply put, brand recognition refers to how recognisable your brand is – is your colour scheme, logo, font and tone of voice consistent? Is it unique enough to set itself apart from competitors? These questions are all around brand recognition.
Brand awareness on the other hand goes much deeper than slick and cohesive design. It’s the foundation in which your brand and your campaigns are built. It’s about your market position, your values and what makes your brand different.
Identifying ways to communicate those messages to your target audience builds a connection with them, which is why they should be at the core of your launch plans. When done right, it gives your brand a competitive edge, builds trust, authenticity and promotes shared values between your business and your target customer. Brand recognition and brand awareness go hand-in-hand and I believe that you can’t be successful in either area without them working in tandem.
For us at UVA, we founded our business in December 2019 with the aim of launching in 2020 but, of course, the pandemic had other plans. Brand recognition and brand awareness have been two tools that we’ve used in order to establish our point of difference ahead of the launch and I’ve outlined some of my top tips and business advice for how any entrepreneur and business founder can do the same.
1) Brand proportion
The first step is to get crystal clear on what makes your brand or product unique to what’s already out there. Think back to the reason why you first founded your business – what was your big idea and how will it help customers with a problem?
For some brands, the connection between their brand proposition and awareness can be so deep that their name has become a part of our everyday language. You don’t use a search engine to look something up, you “Google it”. That’s ultimately what any entrepreneur should be aiming for in the long term.
2) Audience insight
Being educated on your target audience will help identify the best communication tools to deliver the biggest impact. For instance, discovering what media channels and social platforms they use most will help inform your digital and communications strategy.
Outline the different demographics you want to target and how you can tailor your tone of voice to ensure your messages resonate with the right people. It’s important to note that 77% of consumers buy from brands with shared social values as them. Creating an association between your brand and a particular value is a brilliant way to capture your audience’s attention and encourage loyalty.
3) Website optimisation
The importance of web presence isn’t new for businesses, but during the current climate where all major purchases are taking place online, website optimisation should be at the top of your agenda.
Identify what you want your customers to know about your brand and implement this by using keywords on your website, as this will help you rank better on search engines. Specifics are also important in this step, for example, there might be a dozen fresh produce suppliers in your area, but you might be the only one who delivers on the same day. Your point of difference needs to be front and centre to grab attention and to effectively rank online.
Another important thing to consider is making sure each page has a clear call to action and that all the information a customer might need is easily accessible. If something is more than two clicks away, internet users will quickly lose interest!
4) PR and social media strategy
PR and social media campaigns are a great way to cultivate brand awareness and drum up excitement ahead of launch as it introduces people to your brand. Press coverage in particular creates huge value as it’s essentially a third-party endorsement from a journalist vouching for the credibility and value of your product or service.
Social media on the other hand gives you the opportunity to fully own the narrative. Consumers want to build relationships with their favourite companies and social media is the most effective way to do during the launch phase and beyond.
The success of any social media campaign ultimately boils down to adding value for your followers. Your content should be giving something back, whether it’s inspiration, entertainment or education. This brings us nicely on to content strategy…
5) Content strategy
Creating content that speaks and resonates with your audience is the key to adding value. The aim of content marketing is to convert loyal followers into brand advocates. Focussing on content also allows you to share your messages across multiple platforms, creating wide reaching online touchpoints.
The more people that start to see your branded content, such as images, blogs, infographics, videos and animations, shared on social media or external articles, the more recognisable your brand becomes. The importance of consistent brand identity and visuals comes into play here too.
For UVA UK, we use bold and bright colours which matches our friendly and approachable tone of voice. Matching your branding to your brand’s ethos is a great way to embed your business culture and values into everything you do which, in turn, creates brand recognition and awareness.
6) Partnerships and collaborations
Finally, it’s important to remember that as an entrepreneur you’re not an island. When first starting out on a new business venture, it can be tempting to try and take on everything yourself. After all, it’s your creation and it’s completely natural to feel protective of it. But the truth is, there’s always going to be elements of your business that you can delegate to someone else.
Working with experts to help you along the way will not only free up your time so that you can focus on the bigger picture and the strategic direction of your company, but you will also benefit from tapping into the knowledge and experience of industry experts. For example, a marketing agency or design studio could help craft your brand’s tone of voice and deliver it to the right people, while you focus on investment plans.
I’ve always been a big believer in that collaboration delivers the best results for businesses. As the phrase goes – it takes a village, and that is particularly true when it comes to startups.
About the Author
Ayesha Rees is the Chief Executive Officer of app-based ride-hailing technology business, UVA UK. The Solihull-based company is set to launch its new service in a number of UK cities in early 2021.
Driven to make a difference, UVA UK plans to change the ride-hailing landscape for good by placing honesty and a high moral code at the centre of its operations. Headed up by Ayesha, an inspirational woman in tech, the brand has bold growth ambitions and in the long term aims to be a UK-wide operation, launching in a new UK city every six months.