3 Brand Awareness Challenges of Emerging Brands (And How to Tackle Them)

Emerging brands are thrust into a competitive marketplace full of established brands often with nothing but a scrappy attitude, a dream, and a tight budget. But all three, when combined with a tailored marketing strategy, are sometimes all you need to create brand awareness with consumers.

Brand awareness can mean a lot of things: recognition (consumers understand who you are and what you’re selling), recall (they remember you when it comes time to purchase), and message awareness (they understand your values and your story). 

There’s no sugar-coating it: brand awareness is one of the most important goals of emerging brands, but it isn’t always easy to attain on a small budget in a crowded marketplace. We’ve compiled three common challenges of emerging brands fighting for brand awareness, and the marketing strategies we’ve used successfully to win that fight. 

1. Taking on Existing Competition

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One of the first and greatest hurdles to brand awareness for a new brand is established competitor brands. It often feels impossible to make up for lost time: simply going to market first is a massive advantage. Luckily, that’s only the way it feels. Making a name for yourself as a new brand is actually quite doable, with the right strategies.

The Problem: Existing brands are recognizable, and they already have loyal customers. Emerging brands (or product lines) struggle to get out of the shadow of their competitors, to grab attention and keep it with a similar product. 

The Solution: Highly targeted, niche marketing. Emerging brands can’t just up and steal a broad customer base (most of the time), but what they can do is woo customers who want something a little different. 

Customers who, prior to now, only had the options the competitor brands were giving them. They had either “Chicken” or “Fish” to choose from: it’s your job to find the customers who wanted “Beef” but had to settle. Become the Beef.

For instance, Waterloo emerged on the sparking water scene with pretty heavy competition. A little research and mindset modeling showed us that there were around 6 million sparkling water customers in Waterloo’s markets who were seeking stimulation, creativity, and an opportunity to express their individuality. 

Inspira helped target those 6 million “Life Tasters” (as we called them) through paid digital media, social media, influencer marketing, and other channels to show them how to express their individuality through an alternative sparkling water brand.

Research, analysis, and differentiation help emerging brands find a new path away from the established competition and toward curious customers.

2.  Standing Out on a Limited Budget


Budget is the elephant in the room, so let’s toss it some peanuts: emerging brands usually have less financial firepower than established companies.

The Problem: Financial resources for new brands can be limited. Consequently, giant marketing campaigns are often a non-starter. Grabbing a broad audience becomes tougher, especially through traditional ad methods. 

The Solution: Unconventional campaigns, lower-priced channels, and local events. These methods often cost very little, but can still reach customers and boost your brand awareness. 

Guerilla marketing, experiential marketing, and social media campaigns can make a small budget have a big impact. Small influencers in particular can create a huge return, with a smaller upfront cost. In fact, micro-influencers have more than double the engagement of influencers with enormous follower counts.  

Product sampling in relevant markets doesn’t have to cost a ton, either, but is incredibly effective at raising awareness.

Performance-based marketing like pay-per-click and social media ads allow emerging brands to pay only for actual results, protecting a limited marketing budget.

3. Establishing Credibility and Gaining Trust 


Perhaps the most important part of brand awareness is “who is this company and why would I trust them?” And building that trust with buyers (and distributors) takes effort.

The Problem: People like and prefer what they already know. Brands that are fresh on the scene are an unknown quantity. Unfortunately, it’s a bit like landing your first job: how do you gain experience if no one gives you a chance? 

The Solution: There are a lot of ways to establish credibility and foster trust, thankfully. 

Marketing campaigns that incentivize reviews and user-generated content boost credibility immediately. It isn’t just your brand saying how great it is: now other people are lending you authority. 

Capturing social media moments during small live events is another way to go, turning a local event into possibly global content. This method effectively turns the people who visit your activations into micro-influencers, often without spending an additional dime. 

Field teams help you build trust with distributors and vendors, the ones buying your products long before they get to consumers. 

We worked with an emerging RTD cannabis beverage brand, and created a small field team of product specialists to open up conversations with dispensaries. The field team of specialists and part-time brand ambassadors spoke to the staff at new dispensaries in particular, showing them the value of the drink. It was small-scale local work, building rapport with distributors, and it had a measurable impact on sales. 

Emerging brands that build trust locally often go on to regional, national, and even global credibility. 

Brand Awareness for Emerging Brands Takes Precision and Courage

Basically, brands fighting for awareness–brands trying to cut through the noise–have to prioritize quality over quantity, innovation over tradition, and targeted strategies over blanket campaigns.

And, of course, the guts to try wild and creative campaigns. 

To learn more about boosting brand awareness, or to help set up a campaign with Inspira Marketing, reach out to our team today. 

This article has been published in the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Marketing Knowledge Center. Click here to visit their blog.

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