Skip to content
An illustration of a lightbulb looking into a mirror, meant to represent brand recognition.

What Is Brand Recognition? Definition, Examples, Measurement

TJ Kiely

Feb 22, 2024

When you see those iconic golden arches or a sweeping swoosh symbol, you don’t need any other detail to guess the brand. That’s no accident — it’s the power of brand recognition.

Branding spans a meticulous and complex web of activities, from using consistent logos and colors to taking actions that support core values. These activities help a brand stand out to its audience. When customers recognize a brand, whether it’s through a marketing campaign or simply seeing a product in the store, they can build familiarity and foster trust with that brand. 

This connection is essential for growth. More than three in four consumers say they’d buy from a brand they felt connected to vs. a competitor, and 57% say they’d spend more with brands when they feel connected. 

To reach this level of loyalty, brands first need to move beyond basic brand awareness and focus on brand recognition. Here’s what you need to know.


Brand Recognition Definition: What is Brand Recognition?

We define brand recognition as the extent to which consumers recognize a brand when they see its logo, colors, tagline, or advertising. Essentially, it’s about making your brand so familiar that customers can pick it out in a sea of other brands offering similar goods or services.

Brand recognition has a kind of rockstar status in the business world — it’s the thing that makes people say, “Hey, I know them!”

Like this brand that needs no introduction (or a name on its logo):

McDonald's logo

To achieve this status, you’ll need to focus on the visuals just as much as the emotional connection with your audience. Your customers want to feel like they’re part of your brand.

When brand recognition is on point, it can open doors to new opportunities and create long-lasting customer loyalty.

Brand Recognition vs. Brand Awareness

Brand recognition and brand awareness are both essential pieces of the bigger branding puzzle. But the difference between the two matters.

Brand awareness is knowing a brand in a broader sense. People are “aware” it exists.

Brand recognition takes awareness up a notch by being instantly recognizable from one or more of its elements. It might be a part of a logo, or even a nameless logo, for example.

When you see a brand, you feel an instant connection to the company it represents. You know the name of the company, its products or services, and maybe even its core values.

Both are important players in branding. Think of it this way: You can’t have brand recognition until people are aware the brand exists. Awareness opens the doors, and recognition keeps them coming back.

Learn more about the role of brand awareness and how to measure brand awareness.

Brand Recall vs. Brand Recognition

Here’s another important differentiation to make: brand recall vs. brand recognition.

Brand recognition relies heavily on visual cues. It might be a logo or a certain style of creative used in advertising, for instance. 

But brand recall doesn’t rely on visuals alone. Instead, it measures consumers’ ability to remember a particular brand on their own. Ideally, when they’re in the market for what you offer, they’ll think of your brand — even if they haven’t seen any ads or marketing for your product.

Both brand recall and brand recognition are key in staying top of mind with your audience. You can build a powerful amount of both by investing in strategic marketing that creates lasting impressions and lets you live in your customers’ brains rent-free.

Why Does Brand Recognition Help Businesses?

Businesses face no shortage of competition these days. If you aren’t proactively marketing your business and building top-of-mind awareness, you risk losing out to new and established competitors.

Brand recognition helps businesses stand out in a crowded market. When consumers are spoiled for choice, having a strong and recognizable brand sets a business apart from its competitors. Consumers feel connected to brands they know and trust, and they will be more likely to do business with you rather than a brand where this connection is lacking.

This familiarity can also help a brand earn referrals. When your customers continue to buy from you, they’re more likely to recommend you to family and friends, who can then become advocates for your business. This word-of-mouth marketing is priceless and can significantly boost your sales, not to mention your reputation.

There’s also the matter of commanding a higher price for your products or services. Customers are often willing to pay more for brands they recognize and trust, which can supercharge your profits and sustain your business’s growth. 

How to Build Brand Recognition

Just as you build and measure brand awareness and recall, you can do the same for brand recognition. Let’s look at how to increase brand recognition intentionally.

Take a branding inventory

Consistency is the secret sauce of brand recognition. Without it, your brand will appear in different ways to different people, which can make it harder to build familiarity and recall.

How Amazon's logos have evolved since 1995

Image Source

To ensure you’re creating a consistent brand image across the board, start with a branding inventory. Take stock of your current logo, color palette, tagline, and other elements people see. Make sure your marketing team only has access to your current creatives. (You can archive the rest.)

It’s also helpful to document what these elements are. If you don’t already have one, consider creating a style guide. This guide helps to keep everyone on the same page about how to present your brand to the public.

Build an engaging social media presence

It’s not enough to exist on social media. If you’re serious about building brand recognition, you need to maintain an active and engaging presence on your channels. Regularly posting content, responding to comments, and interacting with your audience can help you reach more people and improve your visibility.

Plus, the more active you are on social media, the more the algorithms will notice. Algorithms prioritize active accounts over inactive ones, so you can continue to stay top of mind with your audience.

Collaborate with industry influencers

The more you invest in brand awareness, the more your brand recognition efforts will flourish. Influencers are a great resource for this, as they can put you in front of a slice of your target audience that your other efforts might be missing.

An influencer recording a video on a phone

Collaborate with influencers in your industry or niche who share your brand values. Their audience already knows and trusts the influencer and will associate your brand with their sentiments about the influencer.

Leverage PR and media opportunities

PR and media coverage can help you grow your brand beyond your own channels, allowing you to tap into a wider audience. Being featured in the media not only increases brand exposure but also gives audiences a chance to learn more about your company.

Media features add credibility to your brand. You have another outlet to share your story and showcase the human side of your company, which can help to build emotional connections with your customers.

Invest in outside-the-box marketing campaigns

Brand recognition campaigns don’t just sell products; they also leave a lasting impact. Your goal should be to give your brand staying power. Ideally, you want people to think about your message long after they’ve seen it.

Invest in marketing campaigns that are unique and memorable — two qualities that can help to bridge the emotional gap between your brand and your customers. For example, Coca-Cola launched the Share a Coke campaign in 2011, and people still talk about it today. It was something that had never been done and has made the world-famous soda brand even more recognizable and personable.

Tip: Take a look at the top social media campaigns and the best PR campaign examples.

Develop a compelling brand narrative

Your brand is so much more than a collection of logos, colors, and taglines. It’s a system of beliefs, priorities, and values that give people a reason to buy from you instead of a competitor.

An image of Dr. Bronner's "Cosmic Principles", showing how they craft their brand narrative

It’s a story that deserves to be told, which is why developing a brand story is a must in building brand recognition. This is your opportunity to emphasize what sets your brand apart, highlight your values, and build emotional connections with your audience. 

Take a look at Dr. Bronner’s and Panda London for some brand storytelling inspiration.

Brand Recognition Examples

As you’re thinking about your own brand recognition, it helps to learn from brands who are already making progress in this area (or have mastered the art). Here are some brand recognition examples in action that can inspire how you build brand recognition.


If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why is brand recognition important?”, look no further than Starbucks. The Seattle-based coffee retailer has become synonymous with gourmet beverages through ongoing brand awareness and recognition efforts. 

Starbucks' logo on a cup

It has achieved cult status with a unique yet predictable in-store ambiance, drinkware, and the consistent use of its logo and colors throughout its packaging and stores. The company is known for writing customers’ names on their cups, even when those names are (intentionally or unintentionally) misspelled.

It’s a total experience customers can’t get anywhere else, and it’s made Starbucks a highly recognizable brand people ask for by name.


The sleek, clean lines of minimalistic technology have turned Apple into a world-class brand. Apple’s consistent design principles, intuitive interfaces, and proprietary user experiences create instant brand recognition. Its products are recognizable even among non-Apple users, thanks to a high level of consistency in branding.

An image of an Apple store with the iconic logo featured on the front

Everything from the packaging to the power cords has been meticulously considered. You’ll also notice the Apple logo doesn’t bear the Apple name and instead relies on brand recognition to sport its messaging, which is easy for this brand to come by.

Reading Tip: 5 Things to Learn from Apple's Marketing Strategy


A furniture company like no other, IKEA’s products and in-store experience contribute to its widespread brand recognition. From the styles of its home furnishings to the names of its products (and even their sometimes frustrating assembly instructions), consumers often know what to expect from IKEA even before they shop.

An image of a large, yellow IKEA logo on an IKEA storefront

The steadfast color scheme and logo are also among the most widely recognized visual brands. In one study, 36% of Americans were able to recreate the logo almost perfectly, and 56% produced a “good effort” to do so.

How to Measure Brand Recognition

As you build brand recognition, you also need a way to measure your progress and visualize your impact. This not only shows how you’re moving the needle but also sheds light on what efforts are worth an ongoing investment.

Meltwater Consumer Intelligence Brand Recognition Dashboard

Meltwater’s Consumer Intelligence platform offers the ability to measure brand recognition in real time. Using a combination of media intelligence and consumer intelligence, brands have a single source of truth to learn how consumers are talking about them. You can also see how your brand stacks up against competitors and know what makes your brand special in the eyes of your customers.

Learn more when you request a demo by filling out the form below: