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What is brand awareness?

Most businesses aim to ultimately increase their sales and revenues. They want to not only attract new customers, but also esnure that customers stay loyal to their products/ services. Brand awareness refers to how aware a customer is of the organisation’s business and its products (Gustafson and Chabot, 2007). It was found by the researchers that within a week of its introduction, over 90% of Americans were aware of the iPhone due to extensive advertising and Public Relations (PR) efforts. Thus, successful brand awareness campaign means that the brand is well known among the audiences and is easily recognisable. The most critical aspect of brand awareness is that it differentiates one organisation’s products from similar others.

Brand awareness is defined in almost similar context by various researchers. McDowell (2005, p. 39) defines it as “the ability of an audience member to identify properly a brand through recognition or recall”. Keller (1993) and Chang (2010) refer to it as brand recall and recognition performance by consumers; whereas Aaker (1996) recognises brand awareness as the customer’s ability to recognise and recall the brand under different conditions. Aaker (2002) later revised his definition to “the strength of a brand’s presence in the customer’s mind”.

Building brand awareness is a long term process that contributes to increasing brand knowledge, favorability, and sales over time (Keller, 1993 in Glynn, 2009). Customers are more likely to include brands with higher levels of awareness in their consideration sets and subsequently select and value those brands, compared with unknown brands (Aaker, 1991; Gordon et al, 1993, Glynn, 2009, p. 202). Majumdar (2009) is one of the researchers who took the concept of brand awareness further by implying that brand awareness not only refers to the recall and recognition ability of customers, but also links the brand with certain associations in the memory. As such, depth of brand awareness refers to how easily the brand can be recalled by customers, whereas breadth of brand awareness refers to the different situations in which it is recalled (Majumdar, 2009; Grover and Vriens, 2006).

Thus, brand awareness plays a significant role in customers’ product consideration set i.e. the set of brands of a single product which a customer seriously considers while making the buying decision (Narayana and Markin, 1975; Howard and Sheth, 1969). If a customer does not consider a particular brand, he will not purchase it; hence it is important to be aware of the brand in the first place (Baker et al, 1986). If a customer is aware of a particular brand that fits his/her criteria, chances are that they will not seek further information on other unfamiliar products. Brands with a certain level of awareness is more likely to be purchased than unfamiliar ones. In addition to being aware, the level of awareness is also significant.

Brand awareness is also considered one of the two important elements that builds a firm’s brand equity (Chang, 2010; Berry and Settman, 2007). It helps an organisation gain a degree of marketing advantage over its competitor in the marketplace. In fact, McDowell (2005) states the brand awareness is the first step in building brand equity


  • Gustafson, T. & Chabot, B. (207). Brand Awareness. Cornell Maple Bulletin 105, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Aaker, C. (1996). Measuring brand equity across products and markets, California Management Review, 38 (3)
  • McDowell, W.; Batten, A. (2005). Branding TV: principles and practices . National Association of Broadcasters. Elsevier, UK
  • Keller KL (1993). Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing, 57, 1-22.
  • Chang, C. (2010). Service Systems Management and Engineering: Creating Strategic Differentiation and Operational Excellence. John Wiley and Sons, USA
  • Majumdar, M. (2009). Towards Customer Equity: Should Marketers Shift Focus from Brand Equity? Grin Verlag, Germany
  • Glynn, M.; Woodside, A. (2009). Business-to-business brand management: theory, research and executive case study exercises. Emerald Group, UK
  • Grover, R.; Vriens, M. (2006). The handbook of marketing research: uses, misuses, and future advances. Sage Publication, USA

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