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How to Measure Brand Awareness: The Complete Guide

Christopher Martin

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Grayling Ferguson

    Brand awareness has divided marketers for a long time. For some, it’s a vanity metric that has little bearing on revenue. For others, it’s a crucial factor of success. Some of the greatest marketing thinkers of our time, like Professor Byron Sharp of the Ehrenberg Bass Institute, fall into this latter camp – highlighting how recall and market penetration are vital purchase drivers.

    But perhaps the strongest evidence that brand awareness is an important metric comes from the marketing funnel itself. In most cases, including the AIDA model, the very top of the funnel starts with awareness. It’s from this very first brand interaction that buyers progress, through the stages of interest, desire and action.

    Of course, that then begs the question – how do you measure brand awareness? If it’s such a formative part of the marketing process, with leading brands spending millions of dollars per year on increasing top-line awareness, it must be easy to measure. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. The reality is that tracking brand awareness is hard.

    While later funnel stages benefit from first-party data, such as sales volumes or campaign interaction, brand awareness relies on understanding what is in people’s minds. And not just your customers, but entire populations. There are, however, some simple steps you can take to get a better understanding of your brand awareness. Let’s take a look at them together.

    Three Ways to Measure Brand Awareness

    But, before we get started – a word of caution. Well, two really. First, as with any research project, make sure you understand why you’re measuring brand awareness. Knowing that 20% of your target audience can freely recall your brand name, or 1% of the general population recognise your logo may be nice, but the real question is what will you do with that data? Here are some common brand awareness goals you might want to consider:

    • Improve unaided brand recall by 5% in market X
    • Increase brand recognition to 35% (2% higher than competitor Y)
    • Maintain aided brand recall of 60% whilst reducing spend by 10%

    And my second word of warning, marketing math doesn’t always equal 100. What I mean by that is your measure of brand awareness will not be perfect. We’re dealing with real people, a world in constant flux and complex topics. It’s not feasible, or often useful, to measure brand awareness to an incredibly precise degree. What matters is being able to identify macro trends. Is brand awareness higher or lower than it was 6 months ago? Those are the simple questions we need to be able to answer.

    Tweet from FlexMR Tweet This
    Brand awareness is a notoriously tricky marketing metric to measure - because it doesn't deal in absolutes... it measures what's inside people's minds. That only makes it more important.

    1. Brand Awareness Surveys

    Surveys are the gold standard for brand awareness tracking. You have control over the questions being asked and the audience that it should be delivered to. Want to measure brand recall among US students? Tick. Would you rather gauge brand recognition among Spanish speaking Millennials? You can do that to. Perhaps you want to research brand awareness on a national level. Yep, that’s covered too.

    When designing and building your survey, be sure to have a clear strategy in mind. It’s important that your questions are simple and provide the answers you need. Even creating questions as open text boxes vs providing multiple-choice answer options will have an impact on results. And this is especially important if you plan to run a regular brand tracker. For quality, consistency and comparability – questions should be the same every time the survey is run.

    Here's a simple set of questions that you can use for your next brand tracking survey:

    1. When was the last time you used a [product category]?
    2. When you think about [product category], what brands come to mind?
    3. Which of the following brands have you heard of?
    4. When did you first hear about [brand name]?
    5. How would you describe your opinion of [brand name]?

    Notice in this example survey that its possible to ask both unaided recall and brand recognition questions. However, it’s important to ensure that unaided recall questions come first and the survey is unbranded – as branding can have unintended consequences on the results.

    Find out more about building online surveys, including brand trackers, CSAT questionnaires and market segmentations, on the InsightHub platform here.

    2. Brand Tracking Software

    There’s a plethora of software available to monitor brand performance. Remember to bear in mind, however, that most of these solutions will act as a proxy only – simply measuring mentions on social media, search queries and other web 2.0 sources. They can only monitor and record what is written online, not what exists in people’s minds. And for many brand tracking activities, that’s more than enough. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite tools:

    • Brandwatch - A simple platform that makes digital consumer intelligence look easy. The online tools enable you to search social media for relevant conversations, build custom segments, create detailed analyses and share insights across your business.
    • Brand24 – This tool works in the background to collect and aggregate brand mentions from a variety of social media sources, organising them into a single feed. This data is supplemented by quality and quantity analytics, influence scores and sentiment analysis to help you take control of your online reputation.
    • Latana – Powered by AI, Latana offers powerful multi-brand tracking options, enabling you to keep tabs not just on your own brand, but competitors too. The platform provides industry benchmarking, customisable insights and flexible segmentation all in one place.

    3. Google Trends & Analytics Data

    Finally, your website and search engines can be a valuable source of brand awareness data. When combing through your Google Analytics account, look for branded search terms – i.e. searches of your brand or product name – that brought visitors to your site. Watching for changes in these terms can be a solid indicator or increasing or decreasing interest.

    Google Trends is a search volume tracking tool that serves data on trending online content. The Year in Search reviews highlight the world’s most popular topics – such as Squid Game, COVID vaccines and AMC stock in 2021. However, you can also set your own search terms with Google Trends to monitor your branded searches over time. You can even compare against your competitors.

    For example, here’s the search volume for Apple and Microsoft from 2017 to 2022. Not only can we tell that Apple sees about 40% greater search interest than Microsoft, but there’s a noticeable spike in September 2019. That spike correlates to the announcement of the iPhone 11, with smaller jumps in interest every year before and after.

    What Metrics to Measure

    These three diverse methods of measuring brand awareness provide a broad range of approaches. So let’s briefly recap the various metrics you can use:

    1. Brand recall: the number of audience members that can remember your brand unaided (usually gathered through custom surveys)
    2. Brand recognition: the number of audience members that recognise your brand (usually gathered through custom surveys)
    3. Social media mentions: how often your brand name is mentioned on social media (via social media monitoring software)
    4. Branded search volume: how often your brand is searched for online (via Google Trends or other search volume trackers)
    5. Direct website traffic: the volume of visitors arriving directly at your website (via Google Analytics or other web monitoring software)
    6. Referral website traffic: the volume of visitors referred to your website (via Google Analytics or other web monitoring software)
    7. Share of voice: the percentage of mentions your brand receives in a market (calculated from a wide competitor data set)

    Of course, all of these metrics only provide a starting point. Whichever metric, or combination of metrics, you choose to measure brand awareness through – its important to consider your full marketing and sales funnel. Tracking your customers’ journeys from start to end, and pinpointing the stages at which they drop out is an easy way to find new quick wins, address systemic issues and drive new revenues.

    A Word on Conversion

     Finally, while it’s easy to measure conversion rates between brand awareness and customer volumes, or brand awareness and the subsequent interest stage of the marketing funnel – there remains one unanswered question.

    Should my brand awareness be higher?

    The answer is surprisingly complex. Because, while yes, generally greater volume at any funnel stage will translate into higher revenues – the real question beneath this is; how much focus should I be putting on brand awareness? Or, how important is increasing brand awareness to my company? And to answer this, there’s one more piece of data we need (or perhaps two).

    Tweet from FlexMR Tweet This
    Brand awareness is just one stage of the marketing funnel. To really understand the impact it has on your revenue, it's important to build a full, end-to-end model of purchase journeys.

    First, we need your total target market size. Simply put, that’s the number of potential customers that are in the market for the product or service that you’re selling and that you are targeting. Take watches, for example. The total size of the global watch market in 2020 was $61 billion (via Mordor Intelligence). However, if your target market is luxury watch buyers in the United States – that drops to $8 billion (via Statista). If we assume that a luxury watch buyer makes one purchase every three years, and take the average purchase price of $141,000 (via Statista), that leaves us with a market of 20,000 active, in-market buyers per year.

    To calculate our conversion rate between our total target market (a) and those in the brand awareness stage of the funnel (b), we simply divide {b / a}. And that’s it. Now we can compare our brand awareness conversion rate against all other stages of our sales and marketing funnel – prioritising the lowest conversion rates first.

    Camp InsightHub

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