What Are The Four Stages of Brand Awareness? 

Introducing the Four Stages of Brand Awareness 

what are the four stages of brand awareness

One of the key components of marketing is building brand awareness. Irrespective of the channel or the media; whether it’s online or offline, in a newspaper advert, on the television, on the radio or online…  Building brand awareness is the key to getting people to know you, like you and trust you. 

So how do we get that magic to happen? How do we approach an audience and get them to know us, like us and trust us? What is this process? What does the journey look like and what steps do we need to take? 

The process of brand building takes us through four steps.  

  1. Recognition 
  2. Recall 
  3. Top of Mind Awareness 
  4. Preference

Understanding Brand Awareness 

Brand Awareness is to see a brand and to know what it is on the basis that they have seen it before. So it’s important to have a strong brand that can cut through the noise and stand out from the crowd, as well as to be able to sear itself into the mind of the target audience - quite literally like branding with hot irons in days gone by. Hence the name. 

It’s also important to have consistency in your branding in line with your brand pack. A brand pack is a document which lays out your colour scheme, your brand voice - the type of language you use and how you use it and also your company’s tone of voice. All of this being done on purpose rather than by luck.

Unfortunately brand awareness doesn’t always happen instantly and it takes (on average) 7 times viewing an advert to become brand aware. This is because of the time it takes for people to remember and recognise a brand. 

Before this happens they are in the unawareness stage which is preliminary to the Four Stages of Brand Awareness.

The Four Stages of Brand Awareness

1) The Brand Recognition Stage 

According to Oxford Languages who create the dictionary for Google, Recognition by definition is to acknowledge the existence, validity or legality of something.

The first time someone sees an ad, they may not pay attention to it and are not going to remember it. 

But the more times they see the ad, the more likely they are to remember and recognise it and to gradually become aware of the brand. This leads into the next stage. 

2) The Brand Recall Stage  

The second level of Brand Awareness is the brand recall stage. This is where someone can remember a company by seeing their brand, without any visual (or audible) prompt. 

Examples of audible prompts are “Did somebody say Just Eat?” “Go Compare!” and “Do do do do dooo … I’m loving it!” 

So a consistently strong brand with a well thought out logo, colour scheme and messaging is going to move into the Brand Recall Stage quicker than something which is not as consistent or as strong or as well thought out. The plan as always should be to have a plan and to stick to it. 

3) Top of Mind Awareness 

The third stage is Top of Mind Awareness. This is where the brand is now very well established in the minds of the audience, to the point where the brand is at the top of their mind when discussing whichever industry or products in question. 

E.g. name a company that delivers takeaway food to the door, another one that compares insurance and home energy and another one that serves cheeseburgers. 

Yes, they are all top of mind but are they your Brand Preferences? 

4) Brand Preference Level 

The Brand Preference Level is the fourth and final level of Brand Awareness. This is where you are foremost not just in the minds, but also the hearts of the people. 

This is all about making sure that your brand identity is one that people can relate to and that your brand voice is one that speaks their language and your brand vision is one that’s shared by the people too. 

These factors are what make us prefer the cola in the red cans over the cola in the blue cans and the energy switching through the really cute CGI meerkats over the operatic Welsh chap and the flame grilled burgers over the really (really) famous ones.

Summarising the Four Stages of Brand Awareness 

So in conclusion, Brand Awareness plays a crucial role in attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. It helps businesses stand out in crowded markets and fosters customer loyalty. By understanding the four stages of brand awareness – recognition, recall, top of mind and preference – businesses can develop effective marketing strategies that resonate with their target audience at each stage.

Remember that building brand awareness is not an overnight process; it requires time, effort and consistency. But with patience and persistence, your business can achieve high levels of brand awareness that translate into increased sales and growth.






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