Pop Quiz! What do Kleenex, Jet Ski, Q-tip, Scotch Tape, Levi’s, Popsicle, Tupperware, Velcro, Band-Aid, Xerox, Styrofoam, and Google all have in common? You guessed it. They are all brand names that can stand in for an entire category. For example, you might say that you threw dinner together in the Crock-pot even if your slow cooker was made by a different manufacturer.
When a brand has achieved that trick - becoming the generic term for the product- I think it’s fair to say they win the brand awareness championship. This accomplishment is something most PR professionals can only dream of achieving, but creating top-of-mind brand awareness in your industry should nonetheless be high on your list of PR goals. Here are a few things you can do to achieve it.
Become a the Thought Leader
Becoming a thought leader means a whole lot more than just talking about your products and services. It means understanding the issues and challenges that confront your audience, assessing the industry landscape, and providing useful insights that will be helpful to those who see it, whether they ever buy from you or not. This can take the form of becoming a trusted source for industry press, writing by-line articles or guest blog posts, participating in industry events, or even writing a book.
Build Partnerships with Industry Insiders
In public relations, there is such a thing as reflected glory. When your brand is positively mentioned by important influencers, a little bit of their status rubs off on you. You can take advantage of this with an effective influencer outreach program that involves connecting with important industry experts, analysts, journalists, user community leaders, bloggers, other vendors with non-competitive products used by your target audience, educators, and even politicians and regulators if that makes sense in your industry.
Win at Social Media
Social media is crucial to becoming known as a leader in your industry. Modern buyers turn to social media to find out what companies are really all about. They also highly leverage reviews and ratings when making buying decisions. Don’t let there be a gap between the industry leadership position you are trying to take and what your audience finds on the social channels they use. Consistent engagement on your part, as well as audience participation is critical. People want to see that your followers are liking and sharing your posts and leaving frequent comments. The first step is producing useful content that people will enjoy and learn from. The next is developing your advocates and giving them good reasons to participate in your community.
Kill It in Search
“Oh, here’s what I’m looking for, right on the fourth page of Google,” said no one. You really can’t pretend to have a reputation as the leader in your industry if you don’t rank highly for the most relevant search terms. An effective public relations strategy with a significant amount of earned media, along with good SEO practices, is the quickest way to see your search rankings improve.
Vigorously Defend Your Brand’s Reputation
The importance of reputation monitoring and management can’t be overstated. People today trust what they read on review sites and information they get from family and friends far more than information they get directly from brands. This means that you need to be aware of conversations that are taking place about your brand and be prepared to jump-in when appropriate. Of course, developing a great reputation starts with offering outstanding products and services, but even the best brands get negative comments or reviews from time to time, so you need to have your eyes wide open and be ready to react. You can also proactively build your reputation by leveraging positive comments, customer success stories, and third party validation.
Build an Outstanding Brand Presence
Your website, marketing materials, advertisements, and owned media should all be designed to instantly and consistently communicate that you are the leader in your industry. This is where cross-team collaboration is highly, highly important. As the PR person, it's okay to lean into coversations outside your normal responsibilities and have an opinion on what your website looks like, how it performs, and what you would like to see. Brand presence isn't just one team's job; it has to be spread across the organization like gossip in a middle school ;)
So, next time you open a box of Saltines (Nabisco trademark), or step on an Escalator (owned by Otis corporation) tip your hat to the men and women who pulled off a mighty brand awareness feat. You may or may not be able to turn your brand into a house hold name, but by paying careful attention to your brand reputation and building thought leadership, you can certainly ensure that your brand comes to mind when people think about your space.