5 Steps to Brand Recognition & What You Should Do at Each Stage

Understand the 5 key levels of brand recognition and what your tasks are at each stage.

Marketing design
August 27, 2021

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Building a strong, recognizable brand is no easy task, so we’re here to help you understand the different stages in the process.

Why is it that time and time again more people buy Coke, even though Pepsi wins in blind tests? Because of great branding.

People are loyal to Coca-Cola’s brand and often buy it without even stopping to consider some of the many and sometimes quite similar alternatives.

To help you understand how your customers might get to this stage of brand loyalty, we’ll guide you through the different stages of brand awareness and what you should do at each stage.


Brand rejection

This isn’t necessarily a stage that every brand encounters (or at least not with every client), but brand rejection means that negative feelings or experiences are associated with your brand.

What can you do?

If people have negative feelings towards your brand, you need to try and change that. Launch a marketing campaign that presents your brand in a different light, or respond directly to people that have had a negative experience. When it comes to responding to customer feedback, speed is essential. A McKinsey-Nielsen survey showed that 33% of customers would recommend a brand that provides a fast but ineffective response, compared to 17% for a slow and effective solution.

Brand non-recognition

This is the most common starting point of building a brand. It’s the stage where your brand exists, however, your target audience is mostly unaware of it, or they haven’t made a clear distinction between your brand and your competitors.

What can you do?

At this stage, people aren’t ready to seriously engage with your brand, so long personalized campaigns won’t do too much to help you. Instead, target more widely and make sure people know about your main products or services. Include your logo and branding everywhere and stick to the brand guidelines when it comes to design.

It’s equally important to establish a unique brand identity, both through design but also by using your unique tone of voice and keeping your messaging consistent. Set yourself apart from the competition by highlighting your brand’s mission, vision, and values.

Brand recognition

This stage, also known as brand awareness, is where people distinguish between your brand and one they have never heard of or that of your competitors.

What can you do?

Now that people have heard about you, it’s time to convince them that your products are better than the rest. This is where you have to give your product line (or services) more in-depth attention and really focus on your target customers.

Instead of just promoting your products widely, take time to explain how you can solve your customers’ problems. When it comes to marketing, this is the stage where you might want to focus more on inbound marketing, which helps to attract customers organically to your business.

Beyond just making them aware of your products, you need to explain how these can help them. In your marketing efforts, focus on providing value over pushy sales messaging and make sure your customers understand how to use your products.

Brand preference

You’ve made it! People are more likely to choose your products over someone else’s. Now what?

What can you do?

At this stage, it’s time to start thinking about the long term. Although your business and products might be at a great stage, there’s no guarantee your competitors won’t think of a clever way to one-up you. So, it’s important to consider how you can keep adding value to your loyal customers at this stage. Engage with them on social media or create referral programs to entice them to share their experience of your brand with others.

This is also the perfect time to launch a campaign that goes beyond your products and addresses an issue that your clients really care about. You may have drawn them initially on the basis of shared values, but now it’s time to really hone the message in. Invite them to campaign alongside you and create a powerful connection between the brand and the customers.

Brand loyalty

Once you’ve reached this final level of brand awareness, you can expect customers to always choose your brand over others as well as to advocate for your company.

What can you do?

Sit back and enjoy your success? Not really. It’s well known that an essential part of any good marketing strategy is measuring its performance.

Similarly, it’s important to keep measuring brand awareness. Depending on the stage you’re at, you will set up your own KPIs, which will help you determine the potential areas of improvement.

For example, you might be very successful at making consumers aware of your brand. However, when it comes to brand preference, your competitors are still beating you. Whether it’s the number of social media followers or your monthly recurring revenue (MRR), examine the data and see which stage of brand development might require work.

Finally, it’s really important to reflect on the importance of brand loyalty and its impact on your brand equity. A vast majority of companies (82%) agree that retention is cheaper than acquiring new customers. Increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase revenue between 25% and 95%!


Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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