Brand Awareness, Experience and Research: What is What?

Understand why all three branding processes are important for your company.

Marketing design
October 18, 2021

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Learn how building brand awareness, creating unique experiences and nurturing your customers’ perception of your brand will help meet your objectives, and how these branding processes are different.

Whenever you see McDonald’s golden arches or Coca-Cola’s elegant cursive font, you immediately recognize the brands behind the logos.

When you see an advertisement on YouTube or while swiping through your Instagram feed, sometimes you recognize the brands even before seeing the entire video or reading the copy. You don't think twice about which internet search engine to use because only one comes to mind when you want to google something.

Over time we learn to recognize the brands we like, and we tend to gravitate towards them more than the ones we see for the first time. Using marketing, design, and communication techniques to distinguish a company from its competitors has been used by big corporations and small businesses for a long time.

Getting people to remember and trust a particular brand has always been one of the most important things in every marketing strategy.

However, creating a successful brand doesn't happen overnight. It takes a lot of effort and research to create something unique and well-liked by customers. Building brand identity is just the first step. Nurturing your brand, raising awareness about it and developing a well-rounded brand experience are the additional steps that will help you build your brand equity.


What is brand awareness?

Think about a laundry detergent, hair shampoo, or box of cereals. How many brands can you name for each category? Depending on how frequently you buy these products, you might come up with up to eight brand names from the top of your head. It is estimated that an average person can recall up to four brands for each category of interest.

The ability of customers to recognize or recall a brand under different conditions is called brand awareness. This recall includes visual elements of brand identity, general emotions about the business, and every other information about a product or a service.

Brand awareness is one of the most critical parts of brand equity. The ability of potential customers to recognize or recall a particular brand can determine its success in the long run. It can help the marketing team understand how well potential customers know and remember brands, and further raise brand awareness through effective advertising campaigns.

Brand awareness also represents the top of the marketing funnel. It is the phase in which potential customers are becoming acquainted with the company, and here the marketing team needs to pull the target audience in and turn it into buying customers, slowly moving them down the funnel.


Very frequently, you will see that people mix or use terms brand awareness and brand recognition interchangeably. Even though they are closely related, they represent different things.

Brand recognition is a subset of brand awareness. It shows how well customers can identify a particular brand with visual help such as logo, fonts, and colors. You instantly know that it's Mc Donald's logo when you see two golden-yellow arches forming a letter M.

On the other hand, brand awareness encompasses brand recognition, general feelings about the business, user experience details, and any additional information about a product or a service. Let's take Mc Donald’s as an example.

Brand awareness means that we recognize the logo and can associate Big Mac with the brand as well as quick service and a particular set of emotions that Mc Donald’s triggers.

Types of brand awareness

Whether you are just starting your business or working for years in a very competitive industry, you need to pay close attention to brand awareness. If your target audience is not aware of your existence, you will not get the desired results. There are four distinct types of brand awareness:

  • Brand recall is used to describe a situation where a person can remember a specific brand only after being prompted with a particular category of products or services.
  • “Top-of-Mind” is when people can think of a specific brand first when asked to name brands in a particular category. For example, if someone asks people to think of a brand for cold medicine, they will likely put Tylenol on the top of their list.
  • Brand recognition is, in fact, the initial phase of brand awareness. It means that a person can recognize a particular brand only after seeing or hearing something that helps them identify the brand.
  • Brand dominance is when a consumer recalls only one brand in a product category. For example, Bandaid and Kleenex are brand names but have become synonymous with adhesive bandages and tissues.

Why is brand awareness important?

Brand awareness is one of the key indicators when it comes to the market performance of a brand. It provides a good insight into the potential success of a particular brand. A big part of an individual's purchasing decisions is based on it. When making purchasing decisions, people do not consider the brands they are not aware of.

Since brand awareness is the key indicator of how effective brand identity and communication are, most companies closely monitor it. Sometimes it might be challenging to measure results that are directly associated with efforts to increase awareness. However, there are indirect metrics that might help:

  • Brand visibility surveys are a direct insight into your brand awareness efforts. You can get valuable information and ideas for your current and future campaigns by asking your target audience directly and increase brand awareness.
  • Direct web traffic is a great indicator of brand awareness. If the number of people coming directly to your website increases, that is a good indicator that your efforts are giving results. You can increase the number of visitors to your website by writing useful blog posts and employing search engine optimization techniques.
  • Engagement on social media gives you an idea of how many people know and engage with your brand on social channels. It is also a great way to attract new customers. With certain marketing automation tools, you can optimize and measure your brand awareness campaigns to near-perfect effectiveness.

Depending on the industry and the competition, there is a certain threshold of market awareness for each brand. If the awareness falls below this threshold, marketing teams usually launch campaigns focused on boosting brand awareness.

What is brand experience?

The emotions, sensations and memories the customers have towards a brand, is the best way to summarize the definition of brand experience. It is the long-lasting impression a customer gathers after being in touch with the brand in any environment or any stage of their customer journey.

Here is how researchers J. Joshko Brakus, Bernd H. Schmitt, & Lia Zarantonello define it in the paper “Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty?”:

Brand experience is conceptualized as sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.

So, any brand strategy should take the creation and nurturing of positive experiences into account, in order to form a positive feeling with the customer about the overall brand. Good customer experiences and lead nurturing strategies are the way to create customer loyalty and turn target audiences into loyal customers.

Customer experience and user experience

User experience relates to the way customers navigate through the customer journey and how easy they find using products and services.

Sometimes, when people say user experience, they even mean user experience design, which is the way websites, apps, gadgets and other products are made in the best way possible for users to find them intuitive and easy to use.

Customer experience, on the other hand, is a type of experiential marketing. It relates specifically to the way people perceive the brand story and vision, the people behind it and the overall impression from being users of its services or products. It is more related to customer satisfaction and acts that help build trust, than to the ease of use and intuitive setups.


Why is brand experience important?

One of the most effective techniques for converting audiences into long-term users and devoted customers is to create an effective brand experience. But why is it so successful?

One of the most important reasons is that it aids in the formation of memories and fosters empathy.

Brand experience marketing builds the link between your brand and your target audience via empathy, allowing you to have a genuine and honest conversation with your customers and aligning your company and marketing tactics to match their needs.

Another significant advantage is that it reaches a larger audience. Brand experience marketing occurs on both digital and offline platforms, making it simple for consumers to access these well-thought-out and distinctive campaigns both online and in person. Brands may turn passers-by into consumers by participating in events and engaging audience engagement in public areas.

A positive brand experience also fosters trust. Giving the audience a taste of what they could buy is an age-old tactic that makes them feel like they know what they're getting into. Participating in live events, whether it's giving away a free product or immersing the audience in a multimedia experience, will help you build a positive reputation.

Finally, brand experience allows you to see results in real-time. You'll have the chance to interact with the audience and hear what they have to say. Traditional and even digital marketing activities, on the other hand, take a long time to plan, optimize, and collect data that can then be analyzed.

Brand experience design

Because brand experience elicits a response in viewers in response to brand-related stimuli, brand experience design aims to incorporate these stimuli into the look and characteristics of products.

Brand identity components such as logos, colors, typefaces, backdrops, patterns, and slogans, as well as marketing message and tone of voice, are only some examples of stimulating branding materials.

Product experiences such as packaging, personalizations, and how the product interacts with users are other examples of such stimuli.

Finally, the setting in which the product or service is utilized might also act as a stimulus. Conferences, events, pop-up stores, and other similar activities all take place in a new setting.

Brand experience design is a way of developing goods and features that prioritizes the brand and has a thorough understanding of how to combine marketing into product experiences without obstructing the user's experience.

Designers that specialize in brand experience have often worked on both digital and physical products. This designer must be familiar with the company's goal and branding strategy.

What is market research and why is it important?

The practice of acquiring information about a target market and clients is known as market research. Market research can be divided into two categories: qualitative and quantitative.

  • Primary: your own research, such as surveys, focus groups, and competition research.
  • Secondary: repurposing existing research, such as white papers, polls, or market trend reports.

Although market research and marketing research are most often used interchangeably, the two are independent.

While the former focuses on broader issues such as the state of the market, customers, distribution channels, and so on, marketing research is important as it provides a more in-depth look into marketing: consumer behavior, advertising, promotion, and branding.


Why is it important to do marketing research before branding?

Apart from the fact that it will serve as a base for any branding project, market research has five key reasons why it should not be skipped as a step.

1. It helps define the customer base

Even without extensive study, most business owners will have some understanding of their major target market. Understanding your clients is critical not only for marketing but also for building a successful brand: no matter how wonderful your idea is, it won't be profitable until someone is prepared to pay for it.

2. It minimizes the business risks

Research data assists you in identifying the proper clients and avoiding spending time and money on ineffective prospects, allowing you to make more educated business decisions.

Regular market research, for example, can include focus groups to help you uncover possible concerns with new items, while surveys and feedback forms can help you find out where your service could be improved or why customers might want to quit.

3. It improves the brand messaging

While market research might tell you who they are, marketing research will provide you with information on how to approach your customers. It will help you understand the way your target customers communicate, what their media channels of choice are, as well as which visual communication tools you should most invest in.

4. It helps you be different from the competition

You'll have an excellent understanding of what firms comparable to yours they buy from if you used market research to discover your clients. This can aid in the development of your unique value proposition, which is the most effective approach to set yourself apart from the competitors.

5. It helps increase sales

Prior to establishing your brand, conduct market research to better understand your clients' demands and deliver the right offer at the right moment. Perhaps your clients don't want a one-time discount, but rather the opportunity to save money on your product or service over time. Alternatively, you may be missing a feature that is preventing you from attracting more customers.

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.

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