Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

How to Build Brand Awareness Before, During, and After the Holidays

Shae Henrie

Sr. Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

Consumers don’t buy immediately after their first interaction with or exposure to a brand. 

Become the brand your customers know and love by starting with brand awareness and building trust with repeated exposure over time. Brand awareness is the first step in a one-two punch marketing strategy.

The holidays are approaching; if you want to convert as many customers as possible during your busiest season, start with brand awareness.

The Basics of Brand Awareness

Brand awareness consists of brand recognition, recall, and remembrance. It goes beyond your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) just knowing you exist or what your logo is. Customers need to know about you: what you stand for and what you have to offer.

Brand Awareness Campaigns

Brand Awareness campaigns make audiences familiar with your brand. Greater familiarity gives your brand a higher chance at entering a consumer’s “consideration set,” the small set of brands that individuals consider when purchasing in your category.

 A study from BVIMSR finds “subjects choosing from a set of brands with marked awareness differentials showed an overwhelming preference for the high awareness brand, despite quality and price differentials. They also made their decisions faster than subjects in the non-awareness condition and sampled fewer brands.” Prioritize brand awareness as a long-term, always-on strategy since it builds the memory structures that sales activation efforts can trigger later on. 

Contrary to popular belief, brand awareness isn’t just about exposing potential customers to your brand as many times as possible; it’s about communicating your brand’s values, personality, and unique mission. In fact, a study from eMarketer showed that 64% of shoppers cited brand values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a particular brand, and 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands they’re already familiar with. This holiday season, make brand awareness a top priority for your brand to generate customers with:

  • Higher likelihood to choose a more familiar brand

  • Comfort paying a higher price for a more familiar product

  • Lower sensitivity to negative quality differences

  • Greater confidence and trust in a familiar brand

Now that you know the basics, launch your brand awareness campaign using these strategies! 

Understand Your Customers With a Holistic View

Brand awareness efforts should be tied to a long-term investment in customer lifetime value (LTV) as well as a decrease in ongoing customer acquisition costs (CAC). How do you do this efficiently? This starts with the activation of your data and building a holistic view of your customer so you know what’s working, what isn’t, and how you can iterate and optimize accordingly.

Where do you get your data to pursue brand awareness efforts? Hint: you probably already have it. Turn to first party data!

Programmatic agency MightyHive found that marketers on average were only tapping into 47% of their company’s first-party data potential. The rise of walled gardens complicates this a bit further: marketers are dependent on these platforms in order to get their name out there, but they may not be your final sources of truth.

Your best strategy is to opt for solutions that enable you to combine your plethora of first-party data with second- and third-party data sources so you can actually see what’s influencing traffic across all your marketing channels. You not only get to build a view of your customer but also build a direct relationship with them in the process — building customer lifetime value as well.

Prioritize Creativity

“[Money] invested in a highly creative ad campaign had, on average, nearly double the sales impact of [spend] on a noncreative campaign.” - Reinartz, W., & Saffert, P.*

In other words, good ad creative pays off. Your ads should be attention-grabbing in one of two ways (or both if you can!):

  1. Unique, interesting, different, or outright strange. Brands like Liquid Death rule in this category. 

  2. Relevant, meaningful, and useful. Think of a brand that teaches and gives knowledge freely, like TikTok for Business

Ads with these elements can entice viewers to engage with the ad itself, but they also have a higher likelihood of sticking with the viewer after they’ve moved away. Repeated interactions with your brand create and reinforce emotional memories and reponses. This is also why consistency is key!

The right creative can be the difference between a click and a scroll away.

Connect Across Channels

On average, there are 56 touchpoints before a sale. You want to connect with your audience meaningfully each time. It’s more than just optimizing for the channel you’re using, though. Building an omnichannel strategy is the best way to create a consistent customer experience that builds trust, authority, and loyalty. 

The first place to start is choosing the right channels. You’ll want to utilize the data available to you to find out where your customers spend most of their time. For example, did you know that a Google exec stated 40% of young people don’t utilize Google Search or Maps to find things like restaurants? Instead, the younger gen is turning to TikTok or Instagram for those types of searches. If you’re marketing to a younger demo, you may want to make TikTok or Instagram a channel you invest in more heavily.

If you’re looking to add more channels to your consciously crafted 56 touchpoint plan, here are a few channels to add to your marketing mix for brand awareness.

Social Media

If you haven’t pulled social as a brand awareness lever, you’re not too late! Both paid and organic social media efforts can help you connect with your audience in a genuine way.


Organic social media efforts are great for speaking directly with your customers. Your current and potential customers can reach out to you directly and informally to talk about:

  • Your products/service

  • Customer support questions

  • Upcoming updates/launches

  • Anything!

The best part about organic social is that your audience can treat you like a friend they follow: they may just want to connect.

Organic social is also the perfect place to ask your customers questions. This is a great way to gather data about your audience in a low-pressure way.


Contextual targeting, demo & interest targeting, and lookalike audiences. These are all tactics you can use for paid social ads to reach, engage, and convert new customers. Brand awareness is the first half of a retargeting strategy that returns. 

For the holidays, consider leaning into a branded-holiday play or even an emotional story to tug at the heartstrings. For holiday campaign inspiration, start here.


With email retargeting, a tracking cookie your website visitors picked up is matched to their email address. This is a great way to engage with users who showed interest in your website and then left.

While email can be used to retarget cart abandoners, this is about brand awareness. Use every touchpoint with your consumers to reinvest in your brand. That can mean sending them
values-based announcements, like a charity drive you’re participating in, or it can be something as simple as making sure that your tone and voice comes through in every email you send.

Here are a few tips to incorporate when creating email content for your holiday campaigns:

  • Solve problems and add value. if you’re simply trying to educate and inform readers. Your copy must provide them with real, actionable value so that they come to see your brand as a respected resource, and you can develop a relationship of trust.

  • Respect your reader and stay away from the hard sell. Remember, you’re focusing on solving someone else’s problem, not promoting a product or service for personal gain.

  • Get at the why behind the product. However, if your content focuses on addressing the challenges your product solves, you can create a broader narrative about why people should use your products and services.

  • Provoke an immediate reaction. This copy needs to generate an immediate demand to get people to take a specific action.

    • Time-sensitive ask (e.g., webinar tomorrow, first 500 signups win)

    • Don’t miss out (e.g., 80% of marketers are changing their attribution models)

    • Get better results (e.g., Automated campaigns see 26% higher click-through rates)

    • Your account needs attention (e.g., Your ads need a refresh immediately)

Increase Your Brand Visibility & Reach

If you’ve decided to add social to your mix, you can use hashtags to pop up in their feeds on applicable channels. Use this existing brand awareness to boost your holiday campaigns on social channels with targeted hashtag usage. For maximum effect, make it memorable and make it you — it has to resonate with your brand voice and with your customers’ expectations.

To get some extra #bangforyourbuck, you can incorporate a sweepstake or other contest. Sun-Maid Raisins used one to great effect with the #12DaysofSunmaid campaign. Tying a giveaway to your brand during the holidays can engage your existing fans, but also spread the message of who you are and what you stand for beyond your existing audience.

Bonus: TikTok and some other social media platforms allow their hashtag content to show up in Google searches. That’s extra visibility in organic search when utilizing hashtags appropriately. 

Consumer awareness of your company is one of the most powerful tools in the brand-building toolbox. This goodwill can turn “meh” growth into hockey-stick growth. When you combine it with the sales boost of the holidays, it can kickstart your growth even higher.

Embrace Transparency and Connection

You know what kind of brand you want to be, but do your customers? Consumers need to know what you stand for, or you're never going to rise above the noise from your competitors.

What this means for brands is taking the initiative and making your values clear. In fact, 70% of consumers prefer to buy from companies they feel aligned to on values, according to SmallBizTrendz in 2020. If you support a cause or have a strong set of values that power your brand, leverage that in your marketing. Just make sure you know that some customers will align with your brand and some will fall away as you start to embrace your values at a marketing level.

For brands that don't quite have that level of recognition with their customers, it’s time to build brand awareness to capture hearts and wallets.

Don’t Forget: Measure Brand Awareness Effectively

Every business, no matter the size of their resources or team, has definitive goals. As a result, metrics are needed to track their success. 

It’s important to keep a close eye on the right metrics. Here are three ways you can measure your brand awareness campaigns:

  • Video Ad Views - The number of times that a video was viewed within a given timeframe. These timeframes vary from channel to channel — so be sure to check.

  • Impressions - The number of times an ad has been served to your audience, whether they are a unique/repeat audience or not.

  • Reach / Unique Users - The total number of times your ad is displayed, no matter if it has been clicked or not.

The key here is unique. It’s not every single time your ad was displayed or a post was seen; it’s the number of times your ad was seen by a new and unique person. The idea here is the more people your ad reaches, the more people are aware of your brand and your offer. Reach can also help you figure out whether there’s something wrong with your ads. If your ads have reached a lot of people, but you haven’t seen a single conversion — this would be a good time to revisit your creative or messaging.

On the other hand, if your content has a broad reach, this means it’s successfully making its way to new users, meaning a higher chance to be shared and engaged with.

Build Brand Awareness With AdRoll

We’re here to help with a variety of brand awareness ads to grow your audience and revenue. In one platform, you can build your own brand awareness campaigns across the web, social media and email, identify the right audience, launch campaigns across platforms, and measure your results from a full-funnel perspective.

Looking for more resources to have a successful holiday campaign? Check out all our guides, blogs, webinars, and more below.

*Reinartz, W., & Saffert, P. (2013). Creativity in advertising: When it works and when it doesn’t. Harvard Business Review, 91(6), 106-111.

Explore Next

Topics Covered: