Quick, name as many luxury watch brands as you can in 10 seconds! Did you say Rolex? What about Omega? How about Vacheron Constantin? That last one not ringing any bells? I guess the world’s oldest continually operating watchmaker doesn’t have much brand awareness. But, in truth, it’s actually a fairly common problem.

Product enthusiasts and heavy users might be able to reel off a long list of brands when prompted, but the average consumer can only recall a few (typically less than five).

Every brand is shooting to be the name people think of first. Being at the top of their customer’s mind puts them at a distinct, strategic advantage. It makes conversions smoother, advertising stickier, and is pretty much the most enviable form of brand positioning: the category leader.

How do you decide on a brand awareness strategy?

Recall and Recognition

Brand awareness is a measure of how easily your brand can be recalled or recognized by potential customers.

  • Recall refers to the ability to think of a brand spontaneously just by being asked about the category it’s in.
  • Recognition, by comparison, means being able to remember a brand when it is encountered, such as on a store shelf.

Brands strategize around recall or recognition depending on their product or service type or current position in the market.

  • Recall is important to services like pizza delivery or landscaping because they rarely have visual or other clues for consumers to rely on at the time they are considering a purchase in those categories. They have to have made the impression in advance to be remembered. Reach, frequency, creativity, and repetition are important drivers for products or services in these categories.
  • Recognition is essential for fast moving consumer goods like snacks and toiletries that are usually purchased at retail outlets where packaging and point-of-sale branding acts as a visual reminder for brands that have already established their products in the market. Consistency in design and messaging are important to maintain a high level of recognition.

Both types are studied closely by marketers because awareness is the initial stage of the customer’s journey. Only after the consumer has become aware of your brand can they then learn about it, decide how they feel about it, compare it to the competition, consider acquiring it, and then finally purchase it.

Awareness Takes Time: Start Now!

‘Brand dominance’ refers to the first and only brand that consumers recall in a category. It sounds like an ideal position to be in, but is not without risks because such brands could potentially become synonymous with the category itself, (i.e. genericized). If a Kleenex just means a tissue, and not a specific brand of tissue, parent company Kimberly-Clark loses sales and risks dilution of its trademark.

Clearly, brands wishing to raise their awareness status have a hefty challenge ahead of them, but as Vacheron Constantin CEO Juan Carlos Torres said recently: “All these efforts will take time, but if you can take eight years to create a watch, you can wait five years to increase awareness.”


If you want to learn more about the types of creative executions that drive brand awareness, try our Full Funnel Marketing Tool to see how to engage prospects and drive recall and recognition.