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How to measure brand awareness

14 min read
Brand awareness is the answer to a simple question: how well-known is my brand? But it’s a difficult question to answer unless you’re tracking the right metrics with the right methods. Here’s everything you need to know about how to measure brand awareness...


What is brand awareness?

To build brand awareness, you need to understand what it is. At its core, brand awareness represents the idea that people know your company exists, and what you sell. If people aren’t aware that you exist within the market, then how will they know to choose your products? With this in mind, you can think of brand awareness as a key driver of sales.

Brand awareness, in this sense, is the combination of three things:

  • Brand name or logo awareness
  • Product awareness
  • Awareness of your core brand values

Brand awareness is generally talked about as the summation of two metrics: aided brand awareness and unaided brand awareness. The former is similar in nature to brand recognition, where people are quizzed on their ability to name your brand among a list of competitors.

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The latter – unaided brand awareness – is much harder to achieve, but much more sought after as a result. This is where people can name your brand or product with just a category cue. So, if asked to name a company that makes, say, sports gear, respondents who say ‘Adidas’ will be exhibiting unaided brand awareness. And that kind of penetration into the collective public consciousness is the golden goose of brand building.

Brand awareness vs brand recognition

Achieving brand recognition is a much more pragmatic, fundamental goal than can be said for brand awareness. While brand awareness describes a relationship in which your target customer understands what your brand represents (ie. your brand story/mission), brand recognition asks some much simpler and more fundamental questions around recognizing your visual identity – think logo and name, not the brand as a whole.

Brand awareness vs brand perception

If brand recognition is a more surface-level metric than brand awareness, perception is a much deeper one. That’s because perception is essentially a qualitative reading on what your target audience thinks of you, and is borne out of customer use, experience, functionality, reputation, and word-of-mouth recommendation.

 

All told, brand awareness is a simple concept to understand, but it’s a tricky thing to attain. One thing’s certain, though: to grow brand awareness, you’ll first need to measure it…

Why is measuring brand awareness important?

When you’re looking to build brand awareness, measurement is the first and most fundamental part of the journey. Taking stock of where you’re at – in a way that’s easily quantified – is what you can then benchmark future performance against.

In other words: collecting and standardizing brand awareness measurement metrics allows you to see progress over time and understand how well your efforts are working.

With brand awareness specifically, measurement gives you market context. That’s because both aided and unaided brand awareness metrics can relay a raft of information about your position in your market segment.

Brand awareness is all about questions and answers

Measuring brand awareness will pose some really pertinent questions.

  • Do customers think of you above your nearest competitor?
  • Do they know what you make?
  • Do they identify you as being in the right sector?
  • Can they spot you among a list, but not unprompted?
  • Do they know of you, but don’t count you among the upper echelon in your field?
  • Who’s beating you in that regard?

And, importantly, the answers to all these questions will guide your next steps. You’ll be able to double up on what’s working and implement a plan of action to fix areas of weakness. By measuring your brand awareness on a continual basis you’ll be able to judge the impact of your actions, too, as you’ll have an accurate gauge of how far you’ve moved the needle.

Measuring brand awareness: Real-time vs Point-in-time

As with any business or commerce-based metric, it’s important to think about the intervals at which you collect your data. In the past, measuring brand awareness would be an arduous, manual task – and only really achievable through brand awareness surveys – which would necessitate only limiting data capture to annual or quarterly intervals.

Things are a bit different now that smarter, real-time brand tracking tools can do the heavy lifting for you. In practice, it’s always better to have a continuous eye on brand awareness than it is to run surveys sporadically. There are two key reasons for this:

1.   Point-in-time data paints a picture of the past

Brand awareness is continually shifting, so it’s no use basing current strategic decisions on data captured a year ago.

If you think about how many micro and macro changes occur within your company from week to week – from sales figures and projections to staff changes and campaign executions – you’ll understand how static and useless point-in-time data can be.

2.   Continuous real-time data helps you anticipate the future

When captured and analyzed with the right tools, real-time brand awareness data provides greater accuracy to the questions brand awareness asks of your target audience, with pinpoint accuracy.

What’s more, real-time data allows for much more sensitivity to nuanced changes. Smaller peaks and troughs become easier to identify and action against when the data is rolling in continuously. Brand awareness campaigns that result from today’s insights will always be a more effective way to increase brand awareness than ones based on legacy data.

Mistakes to avoid in measuring brand awareness

Avoid measuring brand awareness on a level that’s not useful to you by only measuring in the context that is most relevant to your business strategy.

For example, there’s a big difference between ‘financial services’ and ‘student loans’, so a company can track poorly in one, and well in the other. If we run with that example: you might run a business that’s currently known for student lending as its primary service, but you plan to be a more full service, financial services company.

If so, then you should focus on the broader category of financial services and not on the smaller category of student lending. You may learn you achieve close to zero brand awareness in financial services, but at least you’ll know what you are up against.

In short?

If you’re unsure how to measure brand awareness, it pays to focus on the product categories that most accurately fit your offering.

How to measure brand awareness: Methods and metrics

So now we know what it is, we need to understand how to effectively measure brand awareness. In this section, we’ll cover two parts of that puzzle: the brand awareness metrics (or KPIs) to track, and the methods you can use to measure them.

Brand awareness metrics

Aided and unaided brand awareness

Probably the most fundamental metrics available, and ones that can only really come as a result of surveys. Aided and unaided brand awareness metrics are the result of asking people if they’re able to recall your brand, products and values/characteristics – either completely unprompted or among a list of competitors. There’s no purer way to measure brand awareness.

Branded search volume

‘Branded search terms’ are counted whenever customers find your site on search engines by including your brand name in their query, versus customers who just search for a type of product. As an example, someone heading to Google and typing ‘Samsung TVs’ is a branded search term. Searching for just ‘TVs’ isn’t  – the latter shows that someone is just looking for any product in the category. The former, on the other hand, denotes a few interesting things:

  1. They already know Samsung makes TVs
  2. That level of brand awareness puts Samsung more front-of-mind than other brands
  3. They’re already a good way down the funnel towards buying a Samsung product

Share of voice

Share of voice differs as a way to measure brand awareness in that it adds a layer of competitor analysis into the mix. Software designed to track share of voice scours the web for mentions of your brand among news outlets, blogs, videos, searches, and social media platforms, and ranks that against your peers – either in general or within set parameters (based on things like time, industry and product sector). The result is a good overview of brand awareness, and how your brand awareness campaigns are landing in relation to your rivals.

Share of voice is often benchmarked against share of impressions (how often people saw your brand appear in searches, etc.). That’s because if one outperforms the other, you can often draw some useful conclusions about your target audience:

1. High share of voice but low share of impressions

Your overall brand awareness is likely to be high if people are talking about you without you necessarily being proactively vocal, SEO-friendly, or newsworthy.

2. Low share of voice but high share of impressions

Your SEO, content, and advertising efforts are getting your brand in front of people, but your overall brand awareness and brand recognition levels aren’t yet sticky enough to stay in the public consciousness when compared to your rivals.

How to measure brand awareness: 4 methods

Brand awareness surveys

One of the most tried and tested ways to benchmark is by conducting a brand awareness survey. When conducted regularly, surveys will provide a human-driven readout of that aided or unaided brand awareness. Obviously, the larger the survey, the better the results, but it’s also important to run these often – regular pulse checks are better at showing how the needle is moving.

One thing to note: when you’re conducting a brand awareness survey, it’s important to frame your questions carefully, and then keep them consistent. Cues for the aided brand recall questions, for example, need to hit a sweet spot between being too broad and too narrow. So if you’re measuring awareness for a beer brand, you’ll need to choose whether it’s useful to call the category “alcoholic beverage brands” or “beer brands”.

Most importantly, you’ll need to stick with that terminology for the next brand awareness survey if you want to be able to benchmark change.

Social listening

Social listening is a powerful way to measure brand awareness, perception, sentiment, and a host of other metrics related to how the public sees your brand. Social listening tools will scrape through any social media platform you deem relevant and surface not only when, but how people are talking about your brand. If we’re speaking strictly about brand awareness metrics, though, it’s a large part of how you’ll understand share of voice – and most social listening tools can convert mentions into a share of voice percentage.

Google Trends and Google Analytics

Using Google Trends, which allows you to compare search terms either on Google or YouTube, is a quick, no-nonsense way to see how branded search terms stack up against your competitors over time.

Similarly, branded search terms that lead to site visits can be analyzed in insights suites like Google Analytics – as can referral traffic coming to you from other sites on the web, which can be seen as an indirect but not-unimportant way to measure brand awareness. In Google Analytics, you can find branded search terms under Acquisitions > Search Console > Queries.

Brand tracking software

If you’re really looking to measure and build brand awareness, brand tracking software is the most complete solution. Suites designed around this purpose can scan every relevant touchpoint and combine all sources of information into simple-to-understand metrics – while also providing actionable ideas as to how to push things in the right direction.

Crucially, proper brand tracking suites operate in real-time, and can issue brand awareness surveys to users for you. That’s while also layering in other important brand measurements like brand recognition, perception, and loyalty.

Learn how to raise brand awareness with our ultimate guide.

Measure your brand awareness with Qualtrics

If you’re looking to measure brand awareness, you’re probably trying to build brand awareness. Our Brand Tracking Tool can help.

You’ll be able to supercharge your brand awareness efforts thanks to an always-on, holistic view of your brand’s position, perception, and share of voice. It’s the only end-to-end system for research and analysis, which means you won’t just measure brand awareness – you’ll learn how your brand awareness campaigns have landed, how your brand recall is building, and the practical steps to take next.

The Qualtrics Brand Tracker tool offers the most advanced analytics and brand intelligence on the market and is the only platform that automatically uncovers the key drivers that attract people to your brand – helping you increase brand awareness the smart way.

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