Even if you’ve never seen it defined, it’s still likely that you understand brand awareness. It is creating a campaign for body wash that attracts more YouTube views than Obama’s victory speech; it’s attracting 9 million monthly visitors within seven months of launching; it’s introducing new solutions to unrecognized problems. But it’s also re-branding that same solution to see better results–gaining more customers, creating more engagement.
Here are five impressive brand awareness campaigns that helped companies skyrocket “overnight,” and the lessons your business can use to benefit from those same results.
When CEO Drew Houston looked for funding for Dropbox, he couldn’t find anyone who was willing to invest, because he couldn’t find anyone who really understood the product. He realized that Dropbox needed a different way to explain itself, or it would never get off the ground.
What they did: Dropbox created an explanatory YouTube video that took viewers step-by-step through Dropbox’s features. They found a way to convey Dropbox’s value while speaking authentically and personably, hiding jokes within the video to maintain the audience’s attention. They also shared the video on Digg, knowing this was where they could find their ideal audience. Overnight, their beta waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000.
What you can do: To sell your product, you need to make sure your audience knows what the value is–and while it’s important to create engaging content to showcase this value, it’s equally important to know where to share this content. Find your target audience, and attract them by appealing to them on their terms: using the same tone, humor, and language you expect your audience would use. Basically, there’s no need to get fancy (unless your product is caviar)–keep it authentic.
A recent ad campaign for Uber featured ESPN’s Cari Champion as an Uber driver taking NBA stars around in a vehicle as they are interviewed.
It’s hard to remember a time before Uber–but a few years ago, a lot of us would’ve heard the idea and said, “Do you mean, like… a taxi, or car service?” This “simple” idea has since grown into a giant hail-riding company with a multi-billion dollar revenue. But how did Uber’s founders initially attract users? How did they create such intense traction, so quickly?
What they did: They understood the immense power of word-of-mouth. They provided free Uber rides to attendees of local tech/venture-capital events, because they understood that these people could do all their brand awareness for them. They also attained celebrity endorsements.
What you can do: Although you might not have Ashton Kutcher on speed-dial, you can still make a list of potential influencers or well-connected leaders within your industry. Reach out to them and offer free “testing” of your product to gain authentic endorsements. At the very least, remember that your marketing costs can be exponentially reduced if you find creative ways to encourage word-of-mouth, instead.
Ever heard of Eden Creamery? Probably not. But it’s likely that you’ve heard of the rebranded name: Halo Top. In three years, Justin Woolverton’s healthy ice-cream product grew almost 21,000 percent. In 2016 alone, sales jumped 2,500 percent. I bet you’re thinking Halo Top has a pretty impressive marketing team, but that’s not quite it.
What they did: Woolverton’s most ingenious move was understanding that he’d be wasting money if he employed traditional marketing methods. “You can make $100 go a lot further through, say, a Facebook ad where you can target demographically, psychographically, geographically… than by taking out ad space in a newspaper,” Mr. Woolverton told AdAge. “If you can focus on people who actually want to see your ads, everyone is happier.”
What you can do: Find your target audience, and target them: use your marketing efforts to build brand awareness around people who are likely to enjoy your product. Your primary audience will do the marketing for you, as long as you reach them.
As anyone with a SoulCycle friend knows–SoulCycle is not just a cycling class. For SoulCycle riders, it can become an obsession. People wear SoulCycle-branded clothing (and dress their babies in it), they pay $34 to attend one class, and they swear that SoulCycle “changed my life.”
What they did: SoulCycle understood the power of these “converts.” Rather than relying on stiff branding efforts, they used customer testimonials to spread their message. They share “Soul Story” testimonials each week on their blog, featuring real-life customers who swear SoulCycle transformed their lives. By making their brand personable and relatable, they created a community: and that’s why people pay $34 per class.
What you can do: Testimonials are powerful, and so is personality. Don’t be afraid to incorporate real customers and real personality into your campaigns. Even more importantly, imagine how your product or service can be a brand with the same cult-like following of SoulCycle–what can you offer people that they can’t find elsewhere? Forget cost: if people recognize themselves in your brand, they’ll be willing to pay.
Old Spice introduced its men’s body wash in 2003, but by 2006, they saw a steep decline in sales. So they created the now infamous ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ ad. But they didn’t stop there. Recognizing that their ideal young male demographic was on social media, Wieden+Kennedy came up with an outrageously risky plan: that same Old Spice actor would personally respond to fan’s messages in real-time, through individualized videos on YouTube.
What they did: For 2.5 days, W+K’s creative team wrote 186 impromptu scripts in response to celebrities and fans from various online platforms–anyone who mentioned Old Spice online was eligible, including Ellen Degeneres and President Obama. They posted Old Spice Guy’s personalized responses on YouTube. In the first day, the campaign generated 5.9 million YouTube views; by day three, it had acquired 20 million views, which doubled within a week.
What you can do: Although you’ll probably have a hard time replicating this, you can still follow the same underlying principle: tap into behaviors your ideal audience is already participating in (fans of the Old Spice ad were already posting comments on YouTube). Find your audience and engage with them on their preferred platform.
Even if your business is working with a smaller budget than these now world renown brands, you can adapt these marketing techniques to achieve success.