5 Brand Awareness Lessons

Brand awareness lessons to learn from Beats by Dre, Kleenex and McDonalds

There are 3 companies that come to mind when I think of branding genius, McDonalds, Beats, and Kleenex. McDonalds is a classic one that has been around for so long. Even when there is negative media coverage it has little to no effect on the brand, but it does cause change within the company. Beats is one of my favorite stories, as the idea comes from two music producers that came together to build a brand. It exploded on the market by using simple strategies. 

You can go almost anywhere in North America and probably beyond, sneeze, and then ask for a Kleenex and no one will even hesitate to give you something to blow your nose. Why is that? How did the word tissue, napkin or towelette change in the modern language to Kleenex, even if you give someone another brand name product? They’re not even the biggest brand in tissue paper!

Each of these brands have important lessons in developing awareness and their success can teach us how to create a brand that not only stands the test of time but actually creates change in society. Before we can dive into how to create one or what causes awareness, we need to look at why a brand is so important. 

1. Product Validity
2. Networking Access
3. Persistency
4. Coining a Phrase or Term
5. Referencing

Overnight Brand Awareness Success

Doesn’t happen! You may have an overnight sensation, trends or a buzz, however success takes strategy and planning. Take the brand example of Beats by Dre, Apple’s buyout didn’t happen overnight. It took months if not over a year to get there. So, how did Andre Young (aka Dr Dre) and Jimmy Iovine create a brand strategy in a market that was overrun by electronic companies? 

There were 3 things that they did that allowed them to explode onto the market. 

As legends in music production, they understood the sound of the music, their expertise added extra value to their product. When you have a product that is developed by experts in the field and the reputation for delivering, you have an instant leg up. That’s why it’s not just called ‘Beats’, it’s called ‘Beats by Dre’. As soon as you associate Beats with Dr Dre, if you know anything about music or sound you know that he is the expert and are instantly going to trust his recommendation. That’s also why it’s not called ‘Beats by Jimmy’ the name recognition is just not at the same level. Although Jimmy Iovine was just as successful of a producer as Dr Dre, he didn’t possess the same personal brand and therefore it was a no-brainer to attach Dr Dre’s name to the product for validity. 

When you have two people that have been in the industry as long as they have, with the success they’ve had, they know how to get their product in the ears of influencers around the world. The fact that they were even able to get Olympians from around the world to wear and pose with them before the IOC could get wind and change the rules to prohibit such promotion, was sheer genius. Sometimes you don’t want to question if you are allowed to promote your brand, you just need to go and do it. 

If there is anything you need to know about Jimmy Iovine, it’s the fact that he is super persistent. If you want to create brand awareness and get to the next level, you never accept a ‘No’ as an answer. His persistence to get celebrities to pose with the new headphones, applies to any industry. If you know that your product is the best out there, then you make sure the best people in the industry know about your product and try it out. Ok, it helps a little when your network consists of movie and music stars! 

product developed by experts

A Life of Its Own

Most of the time, when slang is created it’s for the purpose to create an exclusive term to reference something. How you apply this to your brand awareness strategy takes a lot of creativity. There are many different examples of slang words overtime that are taking hold as the more recognized term. Even to the point that people don’t even know what the original term referenced. 

It’s not surprising when customers want the best product or service. They don’t refer to it by its category name, they reference the brand name or company name. It happens with shoes, people don’t ask for running shoes or basketball shoes, they want the LeBraun’s or the latest Saucony. As soon as you mention those names, the shoe store salesperson knows exactly what you are looking for. 

Similarly with Kleenex, their brand not only used their high quality of tissues to define them, but if you use the term more frequently, it’s just going to catch on. The more modern-day phenomenon was the term ‘Netflix and Chill’. If you use it more and more, it becomes the mainstream term for what you want to do. 

So start coining that phrase in reference to your brand and never let up until it’s stuck in people’s head. This might be the missing key element in your brand awareness strategy. 

Beyond Brand Awareness

You know your brand awareness has gone to the next level when it references something completely different than what it actually does. I’m sure McDonald’s isn’t the only one. 

Whenever I go travelling and I’m in a city that I don’t know, especially with a foreign language, I know I can count on McDonald’s being in a location that says, “You’re not lost, you are back in civilization”. 

Even though it’s been years since I’ve stepped foot in a McDonald’s, I know I can count on them to be located centrally and I can use them as a point of reference and a chance to speak English. And if I need to find a place with recognizable food. 

The Golden Arches logo symbolizes much more than just fast food, or even American food. Even if you don’t want to eat there, odds are good that if you can see the Golden Arches, it’s likely other restaurants are in the neighborhood. 

When this happens, a brand becomes a recognized industry standard and reference point.

McDonald’s was able to accomplish this by having these larger than life arches in locations that can be seen from far and wide.  

This can be used for a B2B brand strategy for commerce centers, malls, and truck stops to help attract other brand names. 

You Can Do It!

Each one of these lessons can apply to even the smallest of companies’ brand awareness strategy. It all starts with building a plan on how to develop your brand. You need to make sure you’ve done the research to understand your customer base. Once you do, you need to live and breathe your brand, making sure your customer base recognizes your product. 

So, if you have a name or a team that gives your product more validity, use it. Don’t shy away from fame. Never underestimate the power of your network, you never know who is going to introduce your brand to the gatekeeper of your desired market. Never let up, it doesn’t matter where you are and who you need to speak with, if you believe in your product, get in front of the right people to take it to the next level. People might not speak about your product or even how good it is, but if you can get them to reference your product or your tagline, you may get people to start thinking about your product in a different light and that could be worth more than your product itself. It will create a brand.

Talk to us to find out how we can help you develop your brand and create your awareness strategy

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