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Phasing out ‘brand awareness’

Hotwire Global

It’s very common, in our little hubbub of marketing, to receive a brief with the words ‘brand awareness’ splattered all over it. And while, like demand generation, content syndication, account-based marketing, and many others ‘brand awareness’ is a thing, it’s not particularly useful when it comes to briefing a creative team.

See, for us, it’s always about awareness; that’s what marketing and advertising mean. So, how do we reframe our thinking on this? Well, clients and colleagues alike should stop thinking of ‘brand awareness’ as the be-all-and-end-all of a strategy. Instead, much of the strategic thinking should be tactical – spending time cogitating what exactly it is you want your audience to be aware of, not that they need to be aware in the abstract.

From a briefing point of view, knowing ‘the what’ is more important than the how. The what, i.e., the one thing your audience needs to know about you above all else, is where the magic happens, the how is simply an engineering problem: difficult, but ultimately very solvable.

Brand Awareness

Keeping ‘the what’ simple and single

I think a lot of us shy away from defining ‘the what’ in a brief because it feels scary. You’re a huge enterprise and there’s an array of services and benefits you could offer your customers, how on earth could you possibly choose just one?

Yet that’s the magic. It’s our job as marketers and creatives to find that one thing that will capture our audience’s imagination and lure them into exploring more. We have to stop thinking of marketing and advertising (especially advertising) as the whole conversation a business will have with their customers, and rather think of it as the most important conversation to get your foot in the door.

Coming to an agency and a creative team with a good understanding of ‘what’ you want your audience to be aware of – even if it’s just a hunch and the research and strategy department need to take it and validate it – is the first step in getting great creative from an agency.

Rather than being limiting, putting in the hard work and staking a claim on a simple and singular ‘what’ can be one of the most liberating and impactful things you can do for your brand.

Next time you’re writing a brief, simply change “the goal of this campaign is brand awareness” to “the goal of this campaign is to make our audience aware of [something specific, simple and singular]”.