Brand Awareness vs. Demand Generation

By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC

Brand Awareness vs. Demand Generation

Marketing is business rocket fuel surrounded by bear traps, black holes, and poison pills masquerading as silver bullets. It is the cause, and solution to, most business woes. Without it, you can’t attract new business, retain current business, or motivate and retain top talent. It is at best a foreign language to most entrepreneurs, and often a cross between witchcraft and dogma that feel oppressive. There is a constant struggle in strategic discussions of “Brand Awareness vs. Demand Generation.” When exploring strategies about pursuing brand recognition, demand generation, or a combination of the two, it is easy to become overwhelmed, cynical, and disengaged from the process due to a lack of understanding.

We will dive into multiple topics in this article, including:

  • What is brand awareness and demand generation?
  • Should you invest in brand awareness or demand generation?
  • What actions you can take that will help brand awareness vs. demand generation.


What is Brand Awareness and Demand Generation?

Brand Awareness is a marketing strategy to increase the visibility, credibility, and desirability of company, its offerings and services, and the problems or outcomes it can help solve and/or deliver for a potential customer. It increases “awareness” of your “brand.”

Demand Generation is the tactics and activities marketing can take to add prospective clients to your sales funnel. These drive revenue into the organization, a normal goal for most businesses. Demand Generation can range from prospecting techniques such as cold calling, door to door sales calls, and direct or email campaigns, to speaking engagements & conference appearances.

So, which strategy do I need?

This is one of the times where I have to break a bit of “bad” news – you need both to survive in today’s sophisticated buyer’s marketplace. Without enough Brand Awareness – potential customers who do even a modicum of research could be turned off from engaging with or hiring your organization from a lack of perceived authority, authenticity, and respectability. If you don’t have content, social media presence, and a “voice” that is sharing your experience and expertise, your organization can look nascent, small, and unqualified.

On the same token, without a robust Demand Generation strategy, your organization will find itself starved for leads outside of the principal’s referral network, current customers and/or vendors who are willing to refer you unprompted, and “stumbled upon” leads.

In short – both are necessary for an organization’s growth health.

What actions help Brand Awareness vs. Demand Generation?

This is a question that if you asked 10 marketers, you might get 4 or 5 different responses, likely dependent on where they worked and what service lines are their primary focus and/or commission generation mechanisms.

Things like written content, videos, infographics, whitepapers, and testimonials/case studies are primarily Brand Awareness actions. They help people understand who your company is, what services you provide, what the impacts of those services are, and to start developing an opinion of whether or not your organization might be able to help their company with achieving their goals, whatever those are.

Thought leadership sessions (such as speaking at a conference or presenting on a webinar), prospecting techniques (cold calling, direct mail, email campaigns, etc.), social media strategies, and other similar methodologies are primarily funnel-filling demand generation techniques, designed to create new opportunities for the sales team to close business.

Actions that impact both strategies

If we accept that we have to do both brand awareness and demand generation simultaneously for our organization, how can we make sure that a dollar spent on “marketing” impacts both buckets of need? Strategy is the answer. You can host a webinar (demand generation), record the webinar, and cut the webinar into small video chunks. Those video chunks can go onto your webpage (brand awareness) in combination with written blogs (brand awareness), and potentially be bundled with a case study around the topic (brand awareness). Your sales team can use the concepts when engaging with prospective or current clients on social media (demand generation), and send the collateral as follow up actions based on their discussions, interactions, and discoveries to help create value and enable prospects to make better decisions. In short – create a strategy so that an action taken, such as a webinar or podcast, will drive activities in both buckets of marketing.

If you’re struggling with marketing, figuring out brand awareness or demand generation strategies, or how to create a strategy and tactics that will impact both, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.


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