Guide to Brand Tracking Research
Are you tracking the performance of your organization’s most valuable asset - its brand? Brand tracking can be measured across many platforms, we'll teach you about qualitative brand research below.
Consumer perceptions of your brand can be the difference between:
- Instant trust or instant skepticism
- Charging a premium or discounting your price
- Attracting A-level employees or B-level employees
- Hitting goals or missing goals
The most loved brands have better awareness and recognition than competitors, can charge a price premium, and tend to have more loyal customers. According to Circle Research, 77% of marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. And strong brands generate a higher EBIT margin than other brands according to McKinsey. In summary, brands are incredibly powerful.
So how do you become a strong brand? The first step is to invest in brand research. A recent report by Spencer Brenneman LLC found that 82% of the customers who have increased their brand investment have seen tangible benefits including more sales and new customers. In addition, companies that continually monitor their brands see stronger rates of inbound and outbound marketing impact as well as sales pipeline.
The Brand Tracker – Your Brand Awareness Scorecard
Measuring your brand with a brand-tracking study allows you to not only understand the commercial value of your brand but also to record changes and optimize your strategy to get the most from your brand.
You need to measure your brand regularly – this allows you to track key metrics over time and learn what’s driving any improvements. Many companies run a brand tracking study quarterly, although if you’re running new advertising campaigns more regularly than this it’s a good idea to increase the frequency so you can see how they’re contributing to your brand.
Here are the key measures to track as part of your brand tracking studies:
Usually measured using feedback from existing customers, this metric provides a view of how likely a customer is to continue to buy from or interact with your brand. It’s often measured by purchase intent and serves as a good marker for how strong your brand is. If it’s strong, customers are much more likely to buy from you again in the future.
This is made up of two measures – brand awareness and brand recall. Awareness is a measure of consumers’ ability to recognize your brand and can be measured as aided awareness (in response to a prompt such as showing a product or brand logo) and unaided awareness (with no prompt).
Recall is the consumer’s ability to remember the brand from memory, whether after using a product or seeing a piece of advertising. This is a good measure of how a piece of communication has contributed to awareness of the brand in general.
Over time, consumers develop perceptions about your brand, and it forms an image in their minds about who you are and what you stand for. By measuring brand association, you can see whether how you want to be seen matches how you’re actually perceived.
Be careful to set achievable targets here – your brand tracker should measure what makes you unique. After all, what brand wouldn’t want to be seen as having good products and great customer service? Think about what makes your brand unique – you can look to your brand values if you have any – and try to draw that out in your research.
A good way to measure this is through open text feedback. It gives consumers the opportunity to leave verbatim feedback without prompting so you can get an accurate view of how they really feel. With the right text analytics software you can analyze those comments and group them by topic to see which associations are the strongest.
How to Start Your Brand Research
Traditional brand tracking studies can be overwhelming. However, once you know what to measure and how to reach your target audience, moving this research in-house or creating it from scratch becomes more approachable.
Designing Your Tracker
An effective brand tracker doesn’t need to be overly complex. At its core, your brand tracker should enable you to accomplish the following:
- Keep a pulse on your category and brand. This gives you an understanding about how your brand compares with your competitors, allowing you to gauge the overall health of your brand and see its performance over time. Use a combination of perception metrics such as awareness, consideration, and salience along with performance metrics like purchase/usage, and loyalty.
- Respond to special circumstances (product updates, promotions, etc.) Brand trackers are a great way to see the success of your marketing activities as well as understand if those activities impact overall brand awareness.
- Visualize trends with a recurring reporting system. Brand trackers are the most effective when you can take action on the data. When designing your system, be sure to set up recurring reports so you can share crucial time-series data with stakeholders instantly.
Once you know how to build your brand tracker, you’ll need a few additional things to get started.
A research platform – From designing the question set to distributing your survey and analyzing the results, you’ll need a research platform to do the heavy lifting.
Look for a platform that gives you the flexibility to change your questions and ask new ones without a lot of complicated work in the back-end system. Your platform should also make the analysis simple; the last thing you want is to have to export it all to a spreadsheet and spend weeks analyzing it yourself.
A panel of respondents – A prerequisite for any kind of research, you’ll need consumers to answer your survey. For a brand-tracking study make sure you have a good mix of existing customers, prospects, and a wide range of demographics. This allows you to see how your brand is performing with different target groups.