Creating a brand is just the first step in the complex process that follows. The brand has to be managed which means that owners need to clearly define what goals were behind the creation of the brand and what they intend to make of it in the future.
Brand management consists of a set of activities that involve brand communication whose objective is to produce and/or add value to the brand. Among the main communicative activities in this domain is the development of brand awareness. Keller (2013) argues that brand communication is formalized using Marketing Communication, whose objective is to inform, persuade and remind consumers of the brands they sell, passing the communication process through the following steps (Keller, 2013, p. 220) :
(1) Exposure: a person must see or hear the communication.
(2) Attention: a person must notice the communication.
(3)Understanding: a person must understand the intended message or arguments of the communication.
(4) Production: a person must respond favorably to the intended message or arguments of the communication.
(5) Intentions: a person must plan to act in the way desired by the communication.
(6) Behavior: a person must actually act in the way desired by the communication.
Also according to the same author, marketing communication involves four types of communication actions:
(1) Advertising and Promotion: Advertising refers to any paid form of presentation and promotion of ideas and/or goods/services. This is an advantageous medium as it allows the creation of strong, positive, and unique brand associations, although the specific effects of advertising are often difficult to quantify and predict. Television, radio, written press, direct response, and “place advertising” (non-traditional advertising, placed in specific places, sometimes unusual) are the main means of advertising considered by the author. In turn, promotion, which is often linked to advertising, represents an incentive given to consumers to try the product/service, for a short period of time, and its objective is to change the attitude of consumers to that they value, support, or consume a certain brand.
(2) Interactive marketing: refers to online marketing communication that has had a great development in the new millennium, being given more and more importance. According to Keller (2013), there are three crucial online tools for building brands: websites, online advertising and videos, and social media. Website development is one of the first and best tools in online marketing communication as they allow consumers to access a wide range of information about brands, from their origin, their area of expertise, brand communications /organization, among others. Internet advertising has been growing progressively over the last few years and, on the one hand, it brings several advantages, such as consumer segmentation, on the other hand, it also presents a wide range of disadvantages, such as pop-up windows that allow you to ignore the ads. According to the author, the use of ads and videos online can enhance the creative constraints of traditional media in order to communicate with persuasion brand positioning, creating positive associations with it. Finally, social media has grown substantially, which is why it has played an increasingly important role in brand communication. Social media are networks that enable their users to share text, images, audio, and videos online with each other and with businesses. Right now, the most popular social media networks are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, blogs, chats, and forums. Social media bring numerous advantages to the business sector, such as ensuring enhanced brand communication.
(3) Events and experiences: managing brands, events, and experiences are as important as online marketing. The importance of holding these events and experiences refers to the fact that the brand involves the senses and imagination of consumers
(4) Mobile Marketing: this is the last communication option that has emerged over the last few years and can play an important role in building brands since the majority of the population uses smartphones to stay informed, entertained, and to communicate.
Along with the sets of marketing communication activities described above, efforts to engage stakeholders are made up of word-of-mouth and public relations.
Public relations, as well as advertising, aim to promote the image of a company and its products. Public relations activities include preparing and publishing annual reports, raising funds and participation units, managing events and political affairs, among others. Public relations has great prominence and importance, especially in situations where organizations face crises due to their ability to deal with the media, and the activity has gained importance in the daily lives of organizations.
The so-called word-of-mouth is a consequence of advertising and public relations activities, consisting of sharing opinions and experiences about brands. Keller (2013) states that consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising, leading companies to create various techniques that give rise to word-of-mouth, also known as buzz marketing. Therefore, companies that use this type of brand seek to expose their brands to consumers in a unique and innocuous way.
Brand awareness is one of the key elements of brand equity as the first form of relationship between the market and the brand, and thus a sustainable and durable asset of an institution (Rouen, 2014).
Brand awareness, according to Aaker (1991) and Keller (2013), can be defined as the consumers’ ability to recognize and remember a brand.
The first author argues that brand awareness is the ability of consumers to “recognize or remember that the brand is a member of a certain category of products” (1991, p. 61). The same author proposes three levels of brand awareness:
- Brand recognition: the brand is recognized among several brands when associated with a certain category of products;
- Recall: the brand is easily remembered when talking about product categories;
- Top-of-mind: the brand is considered unique in the category of products it offers.
In turn, Keller (2013) argues that brand awareness consists in recognizing and remembering the performance of the brand, and (1) recognition concerns the ability of consumers to recognize a certain brand from among a set of brands, and ( 2) brand recall is the ability of consumers to remember a brand when they come across a particular category of products.
For Ruão (2014), brand awareness consists in the brand’s ability to be remembered and evoked by its stakeholders. The construction of brand awareness begins with the development of brand familiarity, which results from the process of exposure to the brand, generated by the accumulation of experiences (Alba & Hutchinson, 1987). The greater the familiarity of the brand, the greater the ability of stakeholders to recognize and remember the brand. Brand communication plays a fundamental role in building brand awareness since it is through it that stakeholders maintain contact with the brand and create their perceptions about it, which will give rise to the brand image.
According to the same author, brand awareness is an important aspect since it represents the link between the brand and the mental associations established by the stakeholders. In this sense, the analysis of brand awareness can be carried out taking into account two dimensions: (a) level of awareness – it consists in the ease of stakeholders to remember and evoke the brand, and (b) brand breadth – refers to the number of situations in which the brand appears in the minds of stakeholders.
The process of evaluating the reputation of a brand is carried out through the application of memory measurement techniques that allow knowing the degree of recognition of a brand (Ruão, 2014). Thus, we can classify the measure of notoriety as follows (Laurent et al., 1995, cited in Ruão, 2014):
(1) Assisted awareness: percentage of respondents who recognize the brand from a list previously provided;
(2) Spontaneous awareness: percentage of respondents who recognize the brand without help in a certain category of products;
(3) Top of mind: the brand is recognized automatically.
The measurement of brand awareness is important for organizations as it allows the creation of “safety nets” in the relationship with their audiences, that is, the goodwill that may be important when the brand experiences a problem or a crisis, constituting a pillar of support in the most diverse situations (Ruão et. al., 2013). Brand awareness brings benefits to organizations as it promotes the development of brand loyalty, the creation of strong image associations, memorization, differentiation, among others (Ruão, 2014).
Aaker, D. (1991). Managing Brand Equity. New York: The Free Press.
Keller, k. L. (2013). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity. London: Pearson Education Limited.
Ruão, T. (2014). The role of communication in promoting brand awareness. In Frontiers and Conceptual Foundations of Public Relations (pp. 121-137). Covilhã: LabCom Books