How to Use Awards for Branding

Every industry has its own array of awards. The North-East Humberside Contact Centre Awards. The Innovation in Plant Machinery Hire Awards. It’s all quite silly.

Silly – and a money-spinning marketing ploy of course. But it’s an ecosystem. You pay the entry fee and perhaps buy a table at the ceremony, and you might get a nice award logo to put on your website.

Is entering awards worth it?

I’m actually a fan of awards, which would surprise some people given how much I sneer at them. It’s not only an excellent brand exercise – you’re practising writing up what’s so special about you and potentially creating a beautiful presentation – but a trust mechanism if you win.

Customers like to know you’re rubber-stamped. Winning some awards with good names lets you show and not tell why people should trust you.

If you’re a new business, these awards can be the only trust mechanism you have before you’ve built up customer reviews, so well worth doing – especially as they’re often free entry for startups.

Choose awards by your goal

Startup reputation

If you’re under five years old, these are a good bet for you because they’re far more focused on your idea and potential, rather than results you don’t yet have. It’s also a more level playing field, because you won’t be up against huge companies with bulging budgets.


Awards focusing on employee wellbeing, diversity and other human-focused subject are perfect for tempting in new people. These do also have a nice effect for fundraising, as investors like to hear staff are sticking around.


I’ve mainly focused on awards as trust mechanisms – these are for things like customer experience, cool new products and more specific benefits, like a great app.

You can use these in all your marketing to tip people over the edge into a sale.


Brand awards need to feed your why. The claim you’re making about your reason for being in business. Company passions like environment, innnovation, investment in education – these humanitarian causes are excellent for awards entries and to talk about as a winner.

That all sounds very cynical but I’ll say anything to make brands do good things!

Tips for writing award entries – and winning

Awards are worth the entry fee if you get shortlisted. You then have to worry about a presentation and the gamble of whether you buy a table (costly) or hope you win anyway if you don’t (which never seems to happen).

But the shortlist should be the goal, and that’s all about the written entry.

To give your brand the best chance of winning:

  1. Preparation is important. Paste the criteria into a document and under each part, note down the things you do that answer the criteria – you’ll check your entry against this at the end.
  2. Keep your writing concise and to the point. Use bullet points and short sentences to make your entry easy to read and understand. The word count should be spent on big, fat meaty facts, not flowery prose or jargon.
  3. Start early to give yourself time to get all the supporting data you need – but get people trained to understand that it’s more about story than legally binding fact. You’re telling this how a CEO in a lift would tell Elon Musk: it’s the vision, the highlights. Just make sure you keep track of claims to stay consistent.
  4. Get other people involved. They will know things happening in other areas of the business that answer the award criteria. It’s vital to collect every scrap of brilliance.
  5. Start every award entry anew or you’ll limit the evolution of your brand’s story. It should get tighter and easier every time you do an exercise like this – but collect new and improved stats as it grows.

Reusing assets

I always recommend using the brand assets you create in as many places as possible. It’s cost-efficient, but it’s also valuable repetition that gets into a customer’s subconscious.

Your awards logos need to go everywhere they’re relevant. Be shameless! Email signatures, presentations, website footer, office walls, direct mail, social profile banners, ads, case studies – everywhere.

You paid for it as well as earned it with your brilliance, so squeeze every last drop out of the investment.

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