Brand Awareness vs Perception: Part 1 of 2

by Jenny on August 20, 2018 Comments Off on Brand Awareness vs Perception: Part 1 of 2

There are two big questions we keep hearing from our clients:

  1. Have consumers heard of our brand?
  2. What do consumers think about our brand?

Finding definitive answers to these questions will offer key insights when looking to attract new customers, keep existing customers happy, and build or maintain a positive brand image. While these questions and objectives tend to go hand-in-hand, they should be distinctly different in terms of their research strategies.

To determine whether or not consumers have heard of your brand, conduct a Brand Awareness Study.

To understand what consumers think about your brand, conduct a Brand Perception Study.

It seems easy enough, right? In some ways it is. However we commonly see brands combine these two research questions into one research project. The reasoning for this makes sense; accomplish two goals with one survey, consolidate efforts, maximize resources, etc. However these benefits are short-sighted and very rarely materialize as hoped. Instead, the survey results are typically too diluted or vague to produce significant insights and the total investment far exceeds the original budget. Based on experience, it’s best to approach these two research questions separately.

This two-part blog post will clarify some of the key conceptual differences between Brand Awareness and Brand Perception. It will also discuss research details for both brand awareness and perception with hopes of providing a solid jumping-off point for future research projects.


The first step is to identify the consumer population you’re interested in examining. This group can be as wide-reaching as “general population”, or you can specify target consumers by geographic location, product ownership or lifestyle preferences.

Whichever consumer population you decide to include in this Brand Awareness study, the next step is to segment these consumers into two groups; those who have heard of your brand and those who have not heard of your brand. This is accomplished with a straight-forward question to start a consumer survey: “Have you heard of (Brand Name)?”

Right away you’ll have an indication of your presence within a specific marketplace and you’ll get a high-level view of marketing effectiveness. You’ll also have an opportunity to pursue different research objectives for each consumer group – those who have and those who have not heard of your brand – to better understand who these people are and how best to reach them.

For those who have heard of your brand, dive deeper into the world of Brand Awareness looking beyond name recognition. Consumers may know you by name but do they know what you offer? Do they know where to find you? Do they have access to the information needed to make informed purchase decisions?

These are important (yet easily overlooked) facets of Brand Awareness that will help guide marketing decisions such as content messaging and resource allocation. By understanding what is currently known and available, you will have a clear picture of what is not known about your brand; thereby presenting an opportunity to do make needed adjustments.

For those who have not heard of your brand, resist the urge to ask “well why the heck not?” If consumers are unaware of your brand this is not a condemnation of your current marketing efforts. Rather it’s a newly discovered audience of potential customers, which is good news!

If a consumer hasn’t heard of your brand, there’s a high probability you don’t know much about this consumer either. Instead of researching with hindsight trying to figure out where these consumers have been this whole time, research with foresight trying to understand where these consumers will be in the future. This will provide data-driven insights for ongoing brand positioning, alignment and communication efforts.

Keep in mind, this should be more specific and focused than a standard media consumption survey. The idea here is to understand where consumers go when looking for information related to your product or service. What types of platforms, mediums or communication channels do they frequent and what are they looking for?

By understanding where these consumers are going for information, you can look internally at your brand’s marketing approach to identify any gaps between the two. If a consumer has never heard of your brand and it turns out your brand has no presence in their particular market, bridges can be built to get your brand where it needs to be.



Sometimes consumers have heard of your brand but are unsure of product or service details. Other times consumers haven’t heard of your brand at all. Either way, there’s always room for growth and development as it relates to Brand Awareness. Competitive markets are continually changing so keeping consumers educated and informed about your brand is necessary to stay relevant.

Continue reading: “Brand Awareness vs Perception – Part 2”


If you’d like to chat further about Brand Awareness research or are ready to launch a study of your own, give us a shout!

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Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

JennyBrand Awareness vs Perception: Part 1 of 2