Brand-awareness tracking is a staple of marketing. It’s one of those “blocking and tackling” fundamentals that every marketing organization should understand and execute with precision. But sadly that’s not always the case, because many marketers limit their view of what brand awareness is and what their brand tracker should be measuring.

A Lesson and a Threat

A broader view of brand awareness was imprinted on me as a graduate student by a professor who teasingly threatened to “drop his drawers” in front of the entire class.

I had just wrapped up presenting a case study on the launch plan for a new car and had confidently proclaimed that our plan would “dramatically create brand awareness”.

“Awareness of WHAT?”, scoffed my professor, a grizzled advertising vet with 40 years of executive experience with global brands. “You haven’t told us exactly what you want us to be aware of. Awareness isn’t the goal. Awareness of the benefit is the goal. If I go to the front of the room and drop my drawers, the entire class would be aware but what would I gain?”.

Too many brands today go for awareness just for the sake of awareness alone. Even worse, too many brands spend big money to track awareness without looking deeper into what, exactly, customers are aware of. So I ask you, what does awareness alone gain?

Take the Full Measure of Brand Awareness

Aided and unaided brand awareness are important to track, but it’s just a starting point. If you’re not tracking how many customers are aware of your brand benefit, you’ve stopped running before you crossed the finish line.

Here are 3 specific ways your brand tracker surveys can be more actionable.

Track your brand benefit

After you have taken the steps to track the high-level unaided and aided brand awareness, next it’s time to ask about benefits. Ask respondents to write (unaided) what they see as the benefit for your brand and those of your top two competitors. Text analysis tools can help you interpret write-in data quickly and efficiently. Next, show respondents a list of brand benefits, including yours, and ask which benefit belongs to which brand. Tracking these responses over time will give you a scorecard for messaging and advertising efforts.

Track your benefit relevance

You probably did plenty of thinking, debating, and (hopefully) research before you selected your brand benefit. While your brand benefit should remain consistent over years and possibly even decades, it’s smart to take the pulse of the market from time to time to ensure the way you articulate the benefit is still relevant. Ask respondents to rank how relevant this benefit is to them. State the benefit in different ways to see which one scores the highest. Have respondents explain why or why not this benefit is important to them.

Track your benefit believability

You can conjure up an awesome brand benefit but it won’t help you if no one believes you can deliver. A brand tracker can show you to what degree customers trust you will deliver what you promise. Show respondents a list of you with your competitors and ask respondents to rank order the brands most and least likely to do what they promise. Be sure to always follow up with a “why”.

Brand awareness tracking can help you constantly improve your messaging, but only if you go deeper than the typical “Which of the following brands are you familiar with” line of questioning.

Your research can only prescribe a detailed cure if it has a detailed diagnosis. Tracking your brand’s benefits, relevance and believability will give your brand awareness tracking studies the actionability they need to provoke improvement and build real equity over time. Brand Awareness is just one part of a larger brand experience (BX) management program. Want to learn more? Start here: What is Brand Experience (BX) Management?