Consumer perceptions of your brand can be the difference between success and failure – the best known and most loved brands have a headstart on the competition and tend to have more loyal customers who spend more.
A lot of that is down to brand equity – the relationship people feel they have with the brand.
Keeping track of your brand
Monitoring your brand health allows you to not only understand the commercial value in your brand but also to track changes and optimise your strategy to get more from your brand.
You need to measure it regularly too – this allows you to track your metrics over time and see what’s driving any improvements. You should be running a study at least 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 on 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 recognise your brand and can be measured as aided (in response to a stimuli such as showing a product or brand logo) and unaided awareness (with no stimuli).
Recall meanwhile is the ability of consumers to remember the brand from memory whether it’s 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 – you should be measuring what makes you unique. Afterall what brand wouldn’t want to be seen as having good products and great customer service? So think about what makes you unique – you can look to your brand values if you have some – 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 analyse those comments and group them by topic to see which associations are the strongest.
How to run your brand research
Once you know what you want to measure, there’s a couple of things you’ll need to get up and running:
A research platform – from designing the question set to distributing your survey and analysing 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 each quarter without a lot of complicated work in the back-end as well as something that makes the analysis simple – the last thing you want is to have to export it all to a spreadsheet and spend weeks analysing it yourself.
A panel of respondents – a prerequisite for any kind of research, you’ll need consumers to send your survey to. 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.