Demand generation: it’s the hottest marketing buzzword out there, but it’s more than that. It’s a way to hit revenue goals and grow as a company. Demand generation is about—you guessed it—creating demand for your product and services.
But what drives demand? All those people demanding your product or service—how do they know about it?
It all comes back to brand. Brand awareness is the driving factor for a lot of demand generation successes. After all, if people do not know about your service or product, how do they know they need it or want it? In other words, there is no demand without brand.
Undoubtedly, brand awareness and demand work together to achieve the same company goals. They crossover both in theory and in functionality (i.e., daily marketing activities). But they are different in their own ways, and it’s important for marketing executives to really understand the nuances of each. Let’s dive into what brand awareness is all about, and how it may be different from or similar to demand generation.
What is Brand?
But is brand just about a recognizable logo and good advertisements? Or is it more than that?
At its very core, brand is about story. It tells customers:
· What the company is about: What solution are they looking to solve?
· Where they came from: What’s the history?
· What they care about: What are their values?
Brand tells the story of a company through a variety of brand awareness activities and outputs. One of the most important aspects of brand is a visual identity. The visual identify of a brand includes the logo, but also provides a consistent look and feel of the company. When people look at a company’s brand awareness campaigns, they should be brought into the story and understand what the company is all about.
This story can change and shift over time, especially for rapidly growing companies in the technology sector. When this happens, marketers need to be even more aware of their own story and make sure they are communicating it via brand campaigns.
What Makes a Good Brand?
We don’t just want stories—we want interesting stories! And that’s the same for brand and brand awareness, too. There are a few factors that make a good brand:
· Good foundations: The company knows who they are, what they’re about, and who they’re trying to reach.
· Excellent content: Each piece of content should be reaching the right people, add value, and help them further along their journey.
· Effective distribution: Even the best piece of content is not useful if it doesn’t get in front of the right people! Distribution refers to where you share your brand story—social media or more traditional avenues like print and TV.
Organic social media is one of the most effective modes of distribution. If a company can empower their employees to share insights, information, and content about the brand, then the message can go a long way. Companies cannot, of course, force anyone to share on their own personal networks and platforms. But if employees are empowered to do so and get behind the message, it bolsters the brand visibility to their network.
Brand vs. Demand: Know the Differences
If brand is the story of a company, then demand might be the interest in that story. Brand, brand awareness, and branding campaigns create the awareness and understanding of a company that then produces demand.
There are three levels each company needs to move through:
1. Start with company strategy: Where do we want to go?
2. Move to brand strategy: What story are we trying to tell?
3. Finish with distribution: How do get this story to the right people? It’s in this step that demand generation activities becomes crucially important.
As a company moves through these steps, there is a change that happens between #2 and #3; it’s a shift from awareness as the primary goal (brand) to distribution (i.e., value add) via demand generation.
Getting brand right and engaging in brand awareness activities will drive demand. Brand and demand generation need to work together so that there is a seamless transition between the two.
How to Increase Brand Awareness
If brand is so important to demand generation and, therefore, revenue—how do we increase brand awareness? There are two important elements, each of which we’ll look at further: measuring brand awareness and knowing when to outsource.
Measure Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is about playing the long game. Some of the most powerful brands in the world have been around for decades precisely because they understand this. Brand should be a long-term strategy of the company.
For this reason, it’s difficult to measure brand. None of the short-term metrics are perfectly able to capture the impact of brand campaigns or brand awareness activities. But there are two metrics that are important to capture: direct traffic and branded search.
Neither of these are only impacted by brand. Branded search, for example, can be highly influenced by an effective SEO strategy. But these are simple metrics that are easy to capture and interpret that give an overall impression of brand awareness.
And while metrics are important, they are not the most important thing a marketing team should focus on. Keep it simple by capturing these simple metrics—it will give you a brief look at whether your activities are working. From there, keep going or move on to the next thing!
Know When to Outsource Brand
Creating a brand is complex work. It’s not as simple as picking out some exciting colors and having your in-house graphic designer come up with a new logo. It goes beyond that because, as we’ve discussed, brand tells a story. Companies need to know when to hire in-house marketers and when they should outsource to an agency.
There are two main benefits to using an agency to support brand awareness initiatives:
· Scaling and growth: As a company grows, they need more resources, assets, and people. Unless there is a “Swiss army knife” designer who can do it all, companies usually don’t have enough in-house professionals to cover all the areas. An agency can provide graphic designers, coders, web developers, UX professionals, and more. It allows a company to grow without scrambling to find enough people to cover the work.
· Creativity: Working with a brand agency can help you think outside of the box. If all the brand work is done in-house, employees may not feel comfortable or empowered to speak up if they don’t like something. There is a “status quo” to maintain, which stifles creativity. An agency brings outside perspective, which boost creative thinking.
If companies can get this right, they’ll be able to develop an effective brand that drive awareness and impact demand generation.
Brand is a story. It’s a way to tell the customers and prospects what a company is all about and where they’re going. It sets the foundation for demand generation by increasing awareness and visibility.
Brand awareness and demand generation have the same end goal: to increase revenue. But there are nuances that make them different. Brand is about awareness; demand generation is about making sure it turns into revenue.
The important thing is to keep them both in the foreground of a companies marketing strategy and direction. By building strong teams, choosing the right people, and measuring progress—companies can use brand to tell a story that people will love.