September 01, 2022
Case Study

What Is Brand Awareness? A glossary definition | plus 4 marketing examples with results


Before any potential customer can buy your product or service…they need to know about it.

To spark your best thinking for getting known by your ideal customers, in this article we bring you examples from OREO x McDonald’s, a digital marketing consultancy, a local painter, and laboratory insights company.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

What Is Brand Awareness? A glossary definition | plus 4 marketing examples with results

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Brand awareness measures how many of your ideal customers are acquainted with your company and its marketplace identifiers, such as your company name, product names, logo, positioning, etc., and how deeply they are acquainted with it.

Brands can build customer brand awareness with branding campaigns and promotional marketing tactics. Here is an example from a 2004 MarketingSherpa case study: “Five years ago, AFLAC – though a Fortune 500 company – had little name recognition beyond its shareholders. The name itself seemed difficult for people to remember. Today, thanks to a comic advertising campaign featuring a quacking duck, AFLAC is a household word, with a consumer awareness level of anywhere from 85% to 92%.”

Now let’s look at four much more recent case studies.

Quick Case Study #1: Digital advertising experiment increases CTR 252% for digital marketing consultancy

Flint McGlaughlin, shared a digital advertising experiment in Call to Action Strategy: This marketer changed three words to improve conversion by 300%.

“Target the essence of the prospect’s purchase intent,” McGlaughlin taught in the session and used this experiment as an example. You can learn more about that lesson and this experiment by watching the session, but here is a quick look at the experiment.

The MECLABS Institute team (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) worked with SEM Dynamics to test the ads. “When we initially submitted the ads for optimizations, we were entering into a rebranding period for our company. However, we had yet to test how our new logo would affect user engagement,” said Matthew Post, Co-founder, SEM Dynamics.

The control (original) ad had the SEM Dynamics logo, a line of copy that read “Tailored Marketing Programs That Get Results,” and a button with the call to action to “SET UP A FREE CONSULTATION.”

Creative Sample #1: Control ad for digital marketing consultant

Creative Sample #1: Control ad for digital marketing consultant brand awareness test

The treatment replaced the original logo with the new logo, which included the tagline “Search Engine Marketing.”

Creative Sample #2: Ad treatment #1 for digital marketing consultant

Creative Sample #2: Ad treatment #1 for digital marketing consultant test

The tagline helped the treatment ad do a better job of targeting the essence of the prospect’s purchase intent, thus Treatment #1 generated a 24% higher clickthrough rate (CTR). “After seeing the results, we were happy that the new logo provided greater clarity for our brand,” Post said.

The team then ran a test to determine if adding credibility would help improve results. They created a treatment that added the MECLABS seal and the words “MECLABS APPROVED” and tested it against the original control.

Creative Sample #3: Ad treatment #2 for digital marketing consultant

Creative Sample #3: Ad treatment #2 for digital marketing consultant test

Treatment #2 generated a 71% higher CTR than the original control.

The team then created a third treatment, this time adding a visual to show that the digital marketing consultant is a BBB (Better Business Bureau) accredited business with an A+ rating, along with the new, higher-performing logo. They tested this treatment against the original control.

Creative Sample #4: Ad treatment #3 for digital marketing consultant

Creative Sample #4: Ad treatment #3 for digital marketing consultant test

Treatment #3 generated a 252% higher CTR than the original control.

“After Flint took the extra step and increased the credibility in the ads, the depth in which credibility affects our industry became clear to us,” Post said. “We are using the takeaways of increasing clarity and credibility throughout the design process as we continue to transition toward our new brand.”

Quick Case Study #2: Local painter pivots advertising strategy, decreases CPL by 55%

Issac Hashimi launched his business, Paint All Stars, in February of this year. His team launched a digital marketing campaign to raise awareness of Paint All-Stars with high-intent homeowners who were looking to paint their houses. As a new business, Paint All Stars felt it was best to develop a high-volume strategy to increase profits as soon as possible. Specifically, they were targeting a minimum job size of $3,000 to ensure the team was focusing on highly profitable work.

“I wanted to start this business because I didn’t want a job that was going to control my future,” says Hashimi, Founder, Paint All Stars. “But I knew I needed help running my business and wanted help building an effective marketing strategy.”

A huge piece of closing the most profitable jobs is targeting the right areas. To start the campaign, the team did an income analysis of Jacksonville, Florida – Paint All Star’s hometown. Through this analysis, they were able to identify the top opportunity neighborhoods to go after. In addition to acquiring highly geo-targeted leads through home service aggregators like HomeAdvisor and Porch, they also launched Facebook and Instagram ads.

“Most new business owners rely heavily on organic marketing to get up and running,” says John Jacob, CEO and Founder, Hoist (Paint All Stars’ business building platform). “Despite relying so heavily on paid marketing, Issac [of] Paint All Stars has been operating his business quite profitably, which is rare for a new business owner. With under $23,500 in marketing spend, 13 percent of his revenue is allocated to marketing. This is in line with a healthy and mature painting business.”

Marketing Solution #1

One of the initial assumptions the team had about generating leads is that they would primarily rely upon aspirational marketing. In their marketing visuals, they showed big dream houses with beautiful lawns and gardens. Why? The goal was to inspire homeowners to attain a more beautiful and prominent living space. The thought was that, with this inspiration in place, homeowners would be more excited about the opportunity to purchase a sparkling coat of paint for their current house.

Here’s an example of this type of creative…

Creative Sample #5: Facebook ad for local painter

Creative Sample #5: Facebook advertisement for local painter

What they discovered, however, was that this often fell flat. Their cost-per-lead (CPL) on this ad, for example, was $89.43. It is possible to turn a profit with this CPL, but it’s difficult. Often, you’re going to be just breaking even.

Marketing Solution #2

Because of this, the team pivoted its strategy. Instead, they started utilizing content showing painters at work. Here’s an example…

Creative Sample #6: Facebook ad for local painter with new strategy

Creative Sample #6: Facebook ad for local painter with new strategy

They complemented this ad by displaying the key traits of the Paint All Stars team as text on the image. The team wanted the ideal customer to come to the conclusion that in addition to competitive pricing, Paint All Stars is incredibly reliable and flexible.

CPL fell by 55%, down to $40.52, which is more profitable for the local painter.

Hashimi launched his business in February of this year. Although the typical painting business only does around $50,000 to $60,000 in revenue during its first six months, Hashimi has been able to do over $180,000. Most notably, he did $48,000 in revenue in July 2022 alone.

What the brand learned from this test to better serve the end customer

This test helped the team cement just how vital customer trust and connection are in the painting industry. Choosing a home painter isn’t like choosing a $50 product on Amazon that people know they can return. It’s a big investment (often $3,000 to $6,000) and relatively intimate because you’re letting people into your home for an extended period of time.

Rather than creating a grandiose vision of a huge, fancy house and convincing people to paint their home, the team discovered that it’s much better to find who’s already thinking about painting their home and connecting with them on a more personal level about why they can trust your company to make their dreams a reality.

Quick Case Study #3: OREO x McDonald’s influencer marketing campaign generates 298,000 engagements on Instagram for limited-time product

OREO and McDonald’s are doing pretty good on the brand awareness front. OK, that’s a pretty big understatement. These are some of the biggest brands in the world. So perhaps they don’t need to focus as much on brand awareness as a digital marketing consultancy or local painter?

Not the case. In addition to their overall brands, they have a slew of individual products that hunger for brand awareness as well. For example, OREO and McDonald’s wanted to promote the limited-time OREO Shamrock McFlurry – a combo of vanilla soft serve with McDonald’s Shamrock Shake flavor and OREO cookie pieces sold at McDonald’s restaurants.

Influencer marketing was a key part of the promotion strategy. “When relaunching our OREO Shamrock McFlurry, we wanted to create as much buzz around the product as possible to drive hungry consumers into McDonald’s locations nationwide,” said Justine Chapin, Marketing Services Manager, Mondelēz Foodservice (the foodservice arm of Mondelēz International, parent company of OREO). “We proposed the idea of having notable lifestyle and foodie influencers share how they ‘rock out’ the moment they taste the fresh OREO Shamrock McFlurry.

“To bring this campaign to life, our team recruited three top-tier lifestyle and foodie influencers to share an Instagram video or Reels of their ‘fresh spring moment’ trying the OREO Shamrock McFlurry,” said Tiffany Borland, Director of Brand Partnerships, HireInfluence (Mondelēz’s influencer marketing agency). “These influencers aligned with a targeted age demographic of 18 - 34 years old, and demonstrated proficiency in high-quality content, relatability and authenticity in relaying the brands’ message in a way that resonated with the target demographics.”

The three influencers selected were Zahra, Courtney, and Richard.

Zahra (zahr4 on Instagram) had 481,000 followers at the time of the campaign and shared one post, four stories, and one ad. Courtney (colormecourtney on Instagram) had 754,000 followers and shared one post, five stories, and two ads. Richard (hangryblogger on Instagram) had 167,000 followers and shared one post, four stories, and three ads.

The content creators promoted the #OREOShamROCKout campaign and showed audiences how refreshing and enjoyable the new OREO x McDonald’s offering was. The versatility of influencers allowed for the OREO Shamrock McFlurry to be seen by a variety of key audiences as it creatively built excitement and urgency for customers to get the OREO Shamrock McFlurry during its limited window of availability.

Creative Sample #7: Screen grab of Instagram video from Courtney

Creative Sample #7: Screen grab of Instagram video from Courtney

“While encouraging consumers to try our product, we were able to empower them to have as much fun as possible when consuming the minty OREO McFlurry,” Chapin said.

The campaign generated 1.7 million impressions, 1.3 million video viewers reached, 298,000 engagements, and 294,000 video views.

The sentiment surrounding the campaign showed an overwhelming amount of positivity (35% of language used) and joy-filled emotions (24%) as well as notable amounts of words associated with trust (12%) and anticipation (9%). The sentiment analytics results demonstrate an audience sentiment most associated with the following words: “love,” “cute,” “omg,” “mint,” “sparkles”, “yum”, and “green.”

Creative Sample #8: Reaction from Courtney’s followers on Instagram

Creative Sample #8: Reaction from Courtney’s followers on Instagram

“We believe the results were so fruitful because the campaign not only tied into McDonald’s campaign to focus on color play, but it also showcased how the McFlurry excited consumers. We wanted the campaign to depict the experience one can have when indulging in this limited-time menu item, through sharing authentic first-hand experiences,” Chapin said.

The team discovered that connecting with the ideal customer via social channels should include a mixture of in-feed posts with Instagram Stories – to maximize exposure, direct traffic, and increase the longevity of the content.

While Instagram Stories are best used to build context and direct traffic (via the link feature), Instagram feed posts performed marginally better than Instagram Stories by producing the highest average engagement figures with Instagram Reels. The feed posts also produced higher quality content that lives on the influencer’s feed for a longer period, getting continued exposure well after the campaign has ended.

In addition, the campaign performance demonstrated that the Bakery & Sweets, as well as the Family & Children vertical, are highly effective categories to target.

Quick Case Study #4: New position and strategy drive brand awareness, enabling laboratory insights company to 3x growth rate

The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on laboratory testing and results, creating a perfect opportunity for Avalon Healthcare Solutions to redefine the company’s brand and product offering.

The team went through a process that resulted in identifying where Avalon offers a breakthrough solution that is unrivaled in the industry, instead of competing in an existing market.

Avalon reintroduced its brand as the “World’s First Lab Insights Company.” The company changed its brand promise from helping health insurance companies save money on what they pay for lab testing. The new position focused on harnessing lab testing to pioneer a new era of value-driven healthcare by unlocking the potential of lab data to proactively drive appropriate care and enhance clinical outcomes for the healthcare ecosystem.

That’s a higher value to potential customers and the team hoped it would lead to a higher order of financial success.

This category, lab insights, positions Avalon as the first—and only—company to use lab test values collected across various healthcare encounters to create a more holistic picture of a population and individual’s health, resulting in the healthcare Triple Aim—better patient outcomes, at a lower cost, while improving the patient experience.

To communicate this new value, the team went through a complete rebrand with the creation of a new logo, brand colors, guidelines, tone, and positioning/messaging, necessitating a redesigned website.

Creative Sample #9: Previous website for laboratory insights company

Creative Sample #9: Previous website for medical laboratory

Creative Sample #10: Redesigned website for laboratory insights company

Creative Sample #10: Redesigned website for medical laboratory

The new website featured a “Resources” section that allowed the company to establish itself as a thought leader, offering content in the form of webinar recordings, white papers, and case studies.

The new brand positioning necessitated a new content marketing strategy to fill those resources. The team had to create content for Avalon’s target audience (the C-suite of health plans) that offered them a new way to solve a known problem.

“In this case, health plans’ known problem was the need to accelerate value-based care. Avalon offered them a new way to solve this by helping them understand they needed to think differently about lab testing. Previously, health plans did not place much attention [on] lab testing because they didn’t believe it was a large driver of healthcare costs,” said Holley Malia Miller, President & CEO, Grey Matter Marketing (Avalon’s PR and marketing agency).

Creative Sample #11: Previous webinar for laboratory insights company

Creative Sample #11: Previous webinar for medical laboratory

Creative Sample #12: New webinar for laboratory insights company based on content strategy to support the re-branding

Creative Sample #12: New webinar for medical laboratory based on content strategy to support the re-branding

“Because this content was educational in nature – focused on a new way to solve an urgent known problem, we saw a 33% increase in LinkedIn followers and an average post engagement rate of 8.69%,” Miller said.

Website pageviews increased by 430% year-over-year, and website sessions increased by 363% year-over-year. The retooled webinar series saw registrations triple in just six months.

The new category approach also helped drive a 49% growth in talent acquisition.

All these results were built on an improvement to the product offering itself – the insight mining process that led to the rebranding helped to uncover a product development pathway that would generate a 2x to 3x increase in value to its clients compared to its existing product offering.  

"The investment in category design should have happened sooner for Avalon. Having a clear understanding of who we are and why we need to exist is fundamental. Lab Insights is much bigger and better than where we were in the laboratory benefit management category. We now have something to speak to the prospect's CMO about. We now have some sizzle to drive new growth and revenue. This new category is the reason that Avalon has seen three times the growth rate in the past two years,” said Bill Kerr, CEO, Avalon Healthcare Solutions.

Related resources

Using new social media to create brand awareness

Social Media Marketing: 7 steps for using contests and sweepstakes to promote your brand

Content Marketing: Encouraging sales and upsells at the point of purchase

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