Most businesses, especially startups, face a brand awareness challenge. It's the nature of a crowded market. If you're funded or not, there are any number of ways to generate brand awareness--public relations, event sponsorship, social media, content creation, etc.

But the problem with many brand awareness campaigns is that they're not often pegged to a goal. How do you measure brand awareness? Is it social media follows? "Brand lift" as determined in a survey? Web traffic? Subscribers to your blog?

For many owners, unfortunately, brand awareness only crosses our radar when we don't have enough of it, when we realize that nobody wants to talk with their friends about a brand that no one knows.

I polled dozens of brand strategists, founders and CEOs and asked them to complete the statement: "You know you have a brand awareness problem when..."

  1. People look at your business card and have no idea what you do. -- Adam Dailey, CEO, Funly Events
  2. Your sales rep spends an excessive amount of time validating the company, its viability and trustworthiness. -- Nigel Ravenhill, brand marketer
  3. You're not asked to participate in industry round-up articles.--Nigel Ravenhill
  4. Prospects are confused about the name of your company vs. the name of your product. -- Josh Wendroff, VP, Strategy & Marketing, CSTMR Fintech Marketing
  5. You Google your brand name and your screen says "Your search did not match any results" -- Mitch Duckler, partner, FullSurge
  6. If something unfortunate occurs while a customer is using your product, it is immediately and widely perceived that product deficiency--not the user--was the cause. -- Nigel Ravenhill
  7. Your presentation ends with chirps and blank stares. -- Vannessa Wade, principal, Connect the Dots PR
  8. People mispronounce your company's name so much that you've considered changing it. -- Pamela Webber, chief marketing officer, 99designs
  9. When you personally know all of your company's Facebook followers. - Simon Slade, CEO and co-founder, SaleHoo
  10. When website visitors have no idea what you sell or offer. -- Markelle Harden, director of content, Get A Copywriter
  11. You have diminished repeat business. -- William Bauer, managing director, Royce Leather Goods
  12. People are surprised to learn you're still in business. -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  13. Potential buyers actually say "so what am I supposed to do?" They aren't sure if they should donate money, volunteer, give a referral or invest in the product. -- Vannessa Wade, Principal, Connect the Dots PR
  14. Prospects attend your company event one evening at a conference and the next day remember only that they went to a great party, but not that it was your company that hosted it. -- Steve Gray, Spire Agency
  15. When you see an increase in copyright/trademark infringements because unscrupulous competitors think you don't have the moxie to protect your rights. -- Chip Bell, Chip Bell Group
  16. Your social media posts are greeted with the sound of crickets. -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  17. You type your company name in quotes into Google's search box, press the return key, and your name doesn't show up until the fourth or fifth search engine results page.- Tony Faustino, president of Faustino Marketing Strategies
  18. You introduce a new logo and no one notices. -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  19. Someone thinks you're in an entirely different industry category." -- Brenda Christensen
  20. Your email open rates consistently underperform against the average in your industry. -- Angela Zener, chief marketing officer, Radius Intelligence
  21. 10 different people give you 10 different answers to the question, "What do you think my brand stands for?" -- Steve Gray, partner, Spire Agency
  22. Your social media posts are not liked, favorited or shared. -- Angela Zener, chief marketing officer, Radius Intelligence.
  23. Your advertising is more about bragging than benefits. -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  24. Your employees spend more than 30 seconds explaining what you do. -- Angela Zener, chief marketing officer, Radius Intelligence
  25. Your sales people can't think of better points of differentiation than "we're the market leader." -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  26. People ask you, "So what is it that you do?" right after you tell them what it is that you do. -- Josh Wendroff, VP, Strategy & Marketing, CSTMR Fintech Marketing
  27. Your customer's loyalty is primarily tied to your salespeople and not to their brand experiences with your company. -- Steve Gray, Spire Agency
  28. People confuse your business name with another company's. -- Sharon Geltner, business analyst, SBDC at Palm Beach State College
  29. You are not ranking for your ideal keywords. --Kevin O'Keefe, creative director, SmartFile
  30. You spend more time discussing what your brand is internally than marketing it externally. -- Kelley Whalen, director, earned media, HYC
  31. Nobody dislikes you. -- Mitch Duckler, partner, FullSurge
  32. Your customers can talk more eloquently about your product recalls than your new product launches. -- Marianne Griebler Consulting, Marketing Communications
  33. When you have to keep telling people, "We're more than just a _____ (barber shop, Saas company, etc.)" -- Karl Sakas, agency consultant, Sakas & Company
  34. Your company is most frequently described in terms of how you are similar to your competitors instead of how you are different than them. -- Steve Gray, Spire Agency
  35. Potential customers are renaming you based on what you do rather than your brand name. (Example: "Let's call the educational software company") -- Beth Anne McPheeters, director of brand strategy, Addison Whitney
  36. Your publicist is pitching your product to the media for coverage and there's zero interest. -- Merilee Kern, chief PR strategist, Ascendant Group Branding
  37. You must keep explaining your company as "We're kind of like X for Y" (ex "We're kind of like Uber for cats"). -- Josh Wendroff, VP, Strategy & Marketing, CSTMR Fintech Marketing
  38. You're at a cocktail party speaking with someone you just met who happens to be your target customer; you tell them the company you work for and they stare at you uncomfortably and pretend to act like they've heard of it. -- DJ O'Neil, CEO, Hub Strategy and Communication
  39. When your brand is perceived the same way in each market you operate in.--Manish Patel, CEO, Brandify
  40. When you can't summate your brand proposition into a tagline. -- Billee Howard, founder, Brandthropologie & author of "We-Commerce: How to create, collaborate, and succeed in the sharing economy"
  41. You have to spell out your brand name every time you give someone your address or website. -- Professor Tim Calkins, Kellogg School of Management
  42. Your advertising budget's up and your sales are down. -- Robert Barrows, R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations

Do you recognize a handful of these 42 problems in your business? Building brand awareness isn't easy, but there are ways to establish goals and frameworks.