Marketing Snacks

BSMS 10: Brand recognition, brand awareness, and brand trust defined


In this episode we talk about brand and its role in your marketing. Brand awareness can be divided into the following categories:

  • Brand recall: ensure that prospects you marketed to months prior will remember your brand once they encounter the challenge you solve
  • Brand recognition: refers to the concept of demarcation, that’s where logos and jingles come in to identify your brand and also drive brand recall later on
  • Brand dominance: achieved when you dominate the niche market you carved for yourself – it’s the highest level of brand awareness.
  • Brand trust: is the most important for b2b saas because you need the least friction possible to drive buy-in and trust is a big part of that

Inbound assumes the audience is doing a lot of the work, but in the case of a new product category or a market where customers haven’t put a name on their problem or even realized that they have a need, outbound (e.g. Account-based marketing) becomes necessary to drive brand awareness.



All right, welcome to episode 10 of B2B SaaS Marketing Snacks. In this episode, I asked Stijn about brand and the role that it should play in early stage B2B SaaS companies. Here it is. Okay, Stijn. Here's another question for you. And this one came up pretty recently in a conversation I was having with somebody. So, it's timely. So, I think a lot of people see brand as a non-direct contributor to the bottom line, and maybe there's some misconceptions out there around what brand really means? More than just the colors that you use on your website and your typography and your iconography.

So, I'm curious to hear how you think about brand and its role in the marketing mix and the role that it should play in the marketing mix and your priorities in the early days, when you're building a company, specifically a B2B SaaS company. Is it important? Should it be a serious consideration, investment early on and what's the role that it should play? And how else does it manifest outside of just being the pretty face for your company?


Yeah. Brand is such an interesting topic, Mike. It means so many different things for different people. One thing that's always challenging is that many business owners, leaders, founders, they think of brand awareness as the most of the low-hanging fruit, right? They feel that they've created something very special and everybody can probably benefit from it. And if only everybody knew, then the product or service would sell so easily and growth would be piece of cake, right? There's sometimes where you come in as a marketer. That's the question, right? "Hey, can you just ... you should just drive brand awareness." If people know about us, everything else will go almost automatically. It's not build it and they will come, it's tell everybody about it and then they like it. I don't know. It's not necessarily the way I think about brand.

I feel brand is of course, a complex topic. So, let's dissect it a little bit. There's brand trust, right? Does your brand make people feel comfortable? Has it allowed them to make decisions quickly, to trust you? Then there's brand awareness that we just talked about, right. How many people actually know about you? And that then allows you to drive business from that brand, around equity in the market. And then there's some sub topics on that.

Let's call it brand recall and brand recognition that are a little different from brand awareness. So, let's talk about these four and why you should care and how much you should care, maybe in what order. The first one, brand trust, I think is the most important for a small technology company, a B2B SaaS company that's growing fast. Because what you need to do, you need to allow people to basically give you their money to buy your product or service with as little friction as possible.

And whether they trust your brand is going to be a big part of that, right? How do you make people feel very comfortable, that when they sign up with you in the SaaS service, often this is a long-term commitment, that you will be there still, not only tomorrow, but a couple of years from now, and that you will be trusted, first priority with their data, right? You're a SaaS company. You're going to store information on their behalf and that's confidence is really critical. So, when you think of your branding and especially things like visual brand and your brand voice, the way you express yourself, the way you show up, what your website looks like, driving things like consistency, consistent brand application, clean branding. Branding that is sort of trustworthy because it breeds sort of solid execution, attention to detail, things like that.

That's what absolutely instilled, that confidence with your potential customers to just sign up quicker, to make it more comfortable for them to trust you with their needs. So, consistency that can drive recognition of course, brand recognition as well, but it's mostly going to lead to trust. So, what you can do there is have a strong brand style guide, strong standards for brand voice, drive consistency. And it all will basically help you look bigger than you actually are, right? Which is really helpful when you're still scaling up. You're still a smaller company. So, looking bigger than you are by having phenomenal brands execution, visual, and voice. So, that's the first part.

And then the second is I think brand awareness. So, doing some form of letting people know about what you have to offer is important, especially when you are, and that's often the case with the companies that we work with, where you're trying to make a market, where you're maybe helping create a product category, a new solution category that may be not as well understood by the markets, right? And if you think of inbound and outbound marketing, it often means you need to do some outbound marketing. Pure inbound marketing, almost assumes that your audience is doing a lot of the work, right? That they are not only acknowledging and finding out that they have a need, that they're able to articulate that need. They then also do the work of starting to search for solutions. They type in a query in the Google search box, for example, and that leads them to either find you organically or see your ad. So, that is sort of the inbound journey that's often prioritized, which I think is the right thing to do.

I think that's the most healthy form of marketing, building a great inbound presence with good content that's relevant, etc. But if you're creating a new category, if you're solving a problem that people have not even given a name to, or they have no idea of what type of solutions are out there, they're doing some form of outbound. We like to call it account based marketing, to make it clear that it has to be extremely focused right, on people who actually have to challenge that you're solving super relevant content, not just making noise. But if you can find that captive audience, then doing some kind of a combination marketing is a great way to drive brand awareness. Don't sort of try to just make noise broadly, but to drive brand awareness with that specific audience that is ripe for the plucking, if they only actually knew about your solution, right to the point that I started with.

Then brand dominance is of course, part of brand awareness. When you're in a very small category, if you make the market, a viable market that you are willing to win, that you're trying to win. If you make it small enough, you can absolutely try to dominate that market, right. And then brand awareness becomes brand dominance. And that is not easy of course, for large categories. But if you think of your market and you make it small enough, you basically talk about the solution that you have for a certain problem in a certain industry and a certain country for a certain type of business, then you can maybe become the dominant player in that specific niche that you carved out. So, that's brand awareness.

Then two other, sometimes mentioned separately but  related to brand awareness, aspects of brand and brand recall, sort of how do people remember you. Recall. So, maybe they don't have a challenge today when you're marketing to them and you try to get top of mind, but if they run in three months later or a year later into the challenge that you can solve for them, if they can recall your name and what you were trying to offer them, I think that is extremely powerful. And that's where things like your name, your company name and how easy it is to remember that and how easy it is to sort of maybe describe what you do, is very powerful for brand recall benefits. Here, it's interesting that sometimes simple branding, simple names, for example, don't necessarily help you as much as something that's very vivid and easier to remember because it stands out, right. A name can be, for example, sometimes it's good that the name is not easy to pronounce for example, because it might make it more memorable.

I'm not advocating here for difficult company names or product names. But it is interesting when you think of brand recall, that other aspects of your branding that become important, that maybe were not as important, when you thought just about brand trust and brand confidence.

And then the last one again, brand recognition, right? How do you make sure that people see your brand? They can easily map it to what you do and understand what you stand for and what product category you belong to. And whether it's the slogans that you use, your packaging, your logos, jingles maybe in a podcast, all those things sort of also will help with brand recall. Also, of course, help with brand recognition. They make it easier for people to not only recognize what you do, but then drive confidence to that as well, because they understand it.

It's more common for this, of course, to happen when your market is a little more mature. And when you are actually effectively reaching your target market, that people start to tell others about you. Yeah, Mike, those are four ways to think about branding. How do you instill brand trust? How do you drive brand awareness? How do you facilitate brand recall? And of course, all of this supported by good brand recognition. So, people actually understand what you do.

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