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How to measure and improve your brand awareness

Improve brand awareness by quickly and easily surveying your target market.

Your business won’t gain new customers and increase your revenue unless people know about it—even if you have the best products or services on the market. Brand awareness is essential to your success, but it’s also something that can be challenging to measure and improve. This guide will help you grow brand awareness for your business so you can bring new customers in the door and build a strong brand for the long term. 

Brand awareness is the extent to which people in your target market are aware of your business, products, or services. If your business has high brand awareness, customers are more likely to look for your brand when they go to make a purchase, which gives you a competitive advantage over less familiar alternatives.

Let’s take a closer look at the types of brand awareness and why they matter, as well as the different ways you can measure and increase brand awareness with surveys.

Businesses can turn to brand awareness to both measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and benchmark their brand equity. Brand awareness metrics help you understand the consumer behavior of your target market, plan marketing campaigns based on that behavior, manage your brand, and develop long-term marketing strategies.

Say, for example, that your business ran a series of online advertisements to promote a new brand of bottled water. To tell if the marketing campaign was effective, you could measure people’s awareness of your brand as a bottled water company. If brand recognition is high, your campaign was effective. If brand recognition is low, your business might have to take a new marketing approach.

Quickly gain meaningful trends from your target consumers before your competitors.

Trust is the most valuable currency of the 21st century for businesses. Consumers are faced with so many options when they’re going to make a purchase that they'll look hard to find one they know they can trust. Brand awareness helps you gain trust because once customers have formed a bond with your brand, they’re likely to come back over and over again. 

Brand awareness is the foundation of brand equity, which is the extra value that a business gets from selling a product with a recognizable name, compared to the generic alternative. Once a customer is aware of your brand, they’ll begin to seek you out, and then to prefer you to other brands. Brand equity makes it easier to charge higher prices for products, retain customers, and expand your product line.

Brand equity measures the perceived value of your brand. While sometimes correlated to brand awareness, this is not always the case. For example, a company with a high level of brand awareness can also have a low level of brand equity, like ExxonMobil during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. People were highly aware of their brand as their name was consistently in the news—but for a reason that made many people think less of their brand, thus lowering their brand equity. 

Brand awareness helps create a strong association for actions and products with your brand. When it’s really powerful, it can even encourage us to replace common words with branded terms. This is why we ask for a Xerox of a document when we need copies made, a Band-Aid when we have a cut, or a Kleenex when we sneeze.

Since brand awareness is so vital, you need to assess how familiar your target market is with your brand. Awareness research helps in measuring brand performance and marketing effectiveness, allowing you to use data to inform your decisions for improvements where necessary.

Brand awareness encompasses two metrics: unaided brand recall and aided brand recognition.

In unaided brand awareness, participants recall your brand or product name without prompting. This metric measures the number of people who can recall your business, products, or services when they think of your product category. Unaided brand awareness is often a more powerful indicator of purchasing behavior than aided awareness.

To assess your unaided brand awareness, ask questions such as, “What brand comes to mind when you think of laundry detergent?” A follow-up question asking, “Can you think of any other brands of laundry detergent?” may prompt spontaneous awareness.

The first question indicates top-of-mind awareness, and the second is your brand’s total unaided awareness. Asking the right questions with no bias is critical to this assessment. Not sure where to start? Try our brand awareness survey template.

Aided brand awareness measures the number of people who recognize your brand in a list of brand names or logos. This information is important because often, only large brands achieve unaided awareness. 

Both aided and unaided awareness metrics are important in gauging how effective your marketing and advertising efforts are. It’s important to note that if your brand is popular enough to come to mind when people think about your product category in general (unaided), then your business has strong brand equity that it can use to boost profit margins.

You may have heard the terms “brand awareness,” “brand recognition,” and “brand recall” used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. Each term has a completely different meaning.

This is another term for aided brand awareness. It is used to evaluate advertising and marketing effectiveness for a brand and to assess whether consumers have at least a minimal awareness of the brand in the market.

Examples:

Which of the following facial tissue brands have you heard of?

  • Scotties
  • Kleenex
  • Puffs
  • Up&Up
  • Seventh Generation

Brand recall refers to unaided brand awareness. It evaluates the extent to which a brand is associated with a category. 

Examples:

  • What brand comes to mind when you think about flooring?
  • Do you recall seeing any advertisements for flooring in the last two weeks?
  • Follow-up question: Can you describe the ads
  • Follow-up question: What brand was featured in the ad?

Measuring brand awareness reveals information about the relationship between your brand and consumers and how well your brand is performing in its product category.

Measuring brand awareness has four key benefits:

  1. High brand awareness is good for your bottom line. The more awareness there is of your brand and products, the less you need to spend on advertising. You don’t have to be in a paid space at the top of a Google search page if you are already top of mind with consumers. It’s vital to find out brand awareness metrics and monitor them for changes.
  2. Inform your brand strategy. As you employ campaigns to improve awareness, track what works and amplify it. This will serve to sculpt your strategy in ways that fit what your target audience responds to.
  3. Attract new customers. Measuring brand awareness lets you know what strategies are attracting new customers to your brand. Remember to track social mentions and hashtags as part of your brand campaigns. Use this information to inform marketing campaigns to build your brand.
  4. Monitoring your brand awareness is a key part of understanding your brand health and what impacts sentiment.

Even though SurveyMonkey has found that 80% of marketers think measuring brand awareness is “extremely” or “very” important, few know how to use it to judge the success of their marketing campaigns. More than 75% of marketers say they don’t know how many people in their target market are aware of their brand, and almost 70% say they don’t even know how to measure brand awareness.

While it can be tricky to put a number to your brand awareness, it’s not impossible. In fact, there are several quantitative metrics that can help you paint an overall picture of your current brand awareness. 

  • Direct traffic
    This is the number of people who visit your website by typing in your URL directly. This number tells you how many people are prompted by your marketing to visit your site—if they’re going there directly, they're definitely aware of your brand.
  • Site traffic numbers
    This number tells you how many people overall are visiting your site, regardless of how they got there. These people are aware enough of your brand to check out your website. 
  • Social engagement
    Engagement means the amount of likes, saves, followers, retweets, comments, and more—anything that involves a person taking an action on your social media channels. This tells you how many people are aware of and engaging with your brand. 

Qualitative metrics are not as definitive as quantitative ones, and they’re a bit harder to track as well. But they’re still important to include so you get a well-rounded picture of brand awareness. 

Learning how people talk about your brand online offers valuable insights into brand awareness. You’ll receive alerts any time your business is mentioned by a third party or a news outlet. 

Monitoring your social media management tools for engagement and organic mentions can also offer timely insights into your current brand awareness. 

Luckily, it’s easy to test your target market with a brand awareness survey. A brand awareness survey is a questionnaire that measures how aware your target audience is of the existence of your brand, as well as their perception of it. 

Brand awareness surveys gather direct feedback on several elements of your brand: