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Brand tracking guide: monitoring brand health

Learn how brand managers run successful brand and advertising campaigns across marketing channels.

When you perform a brand tracking survey, you’re essentially taking your brands’ vitals by asking:

  • How aware are consumers of your brand and whether they’re customers?
  • What do they feel about your brand?
  • What do they expect from you and your competitors?
  • Whether they plan to purchase your product or service?

In any case, if you’re a brand manager or in marketing, you know it’s important to monitor your brand health so you can stay in step with your competitors. Tracking your brand equity can also help you measure how your brand performs over time, and the impact of marketing and brand advertising campaigns.

Brand tracking is a range of research and data gathering activities that you’ll use to monitor and track the health, performance, and success of your brand. It will help you find out how your brand is performing in the marketplace, both independently and relative to your competitors, help you to identify where you’re falling behind and where your successes lie, and alert you to any threats to your brand health. 

Brand tracking is not an easy, one-shot activity. To be effective, brand tracking needs to be comprehensive and core to your business development strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the myriad benefits associated with brand tracking.

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Investing in brand tracking can bring you and your brand enormous benefits. You can use brand tracking to:

Performance can be assessed across a number of different metrics like sales, market penetration, customer satisfaction, and more. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be in an excellent position to judge where best to direct resources to uplift your brand.

See what questions to ask on a brand performance survey

The beauty of brand tracking is that you can use it not only to evaluate the performance of your own brand, but also to assess how well competing brands are doing—vital information to support your competitive strategy.

Find out if the customers of your competitors are even aware of your brand with this brand awareness survey template.

If you’ve recently implemented a new strategy, like a new customer service strategy, or a new marketing campaign, brand tracking is a great way to test its impact. This is another reason why brand tracking needs to be performed continuously. Doing so means you can quickly determine whether any strategic moves you’ve made have caused changes in your brand health. 

Brand tracking also helps you to identify new trends and patterns in your industry—major sources of new opportunities. For example, if your brand tracking efforts reveal a growing interest in a new competitor, you might be prompted to investigate them further to see if they’re leveraging a new process or selling a new product that’s capturing your market’s attention.

Brush up on your industry knowledge with our solution for tracking industry trends.

If you’re in a highly competitive industry, you might want to keep tabs on your competitors to see if they’re making any moves that will affect your own strategy. Brand tracking can help you compare your brand to theirs and uncover areas of weakness for your competition. 

So, now you know the benefits of brand tracking, but what exactly should you track? There are a number of different brand tracking metrics out there, which means that your brand tracking efforts can be both comprehensive and versatile in terms of outcomes and insight gained. If you want to create a comprehensive brand survey, make sure you cover the following areas:

Brand awareness is how familiar consumers are with your brand. If, for example, someone is asked to recommend a great running shoe, which brand will they suggest? Will they recommend Nike simply because it’s one of the most well-known athletic brands? You may be missing out on sales if your brand isn’t present in consumers’ minds. Find out where you stand with consumers with a brand awareness survey.

How frequently do consumers purchase your product or service? Are they purchasing from your competitors? If runners recommend Nike to all of their friends–and you’re trying to break into the market–how can you show consumers you’re a better brand? Understanding consumers’ brand usage will help you see where you stand, and enable competitive analysis to help you find the right niche.

What do consumers think your brand should do for them? Are you meeting their expectations? What benefits and pitfalls do they associate with your product category? A part of the reason consumers may think positively of your brand is not based on convenience or price, but how well you fulfill their needs. Getting consumers’ opinion about your brand attributes can help you understand where you’re doing well, and what you need to improve your message.

Be sure to include questions that ask consumers whether or not they’re planning on purchasing your product or service in the future. Comparing purchase intent before and after an advertising campaign is a great way to see how you’re doing.

It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in common metrics when trying to track the impact of their campaigns. Site visits, clickthrough rates, and impressions are all important, but not necessarily a good indicator of how people feel.

To fully understand the impact of an ad or marketing campaign, marketers need to measure the “brand lift”.  The term brand lift refers to an increase in target audience perception; something that can seem hard to measure. While you can’t read people’s minds, marketers can quantify how people feel about their brand, specifically in the context of a specific campaign.

To test brand lift, customer feedback is critical. It’s important that marketers conduct market research surveys that include questions that will measure sentiment and test the messaging of their ads. Asking question types that probe on values like brand awareness, brand recall, customer purchase intent, and customer affinity can help quantify perception about an ad, and give marketers a sense of whether their messaging is hitting the mark.

A brand lift survey helps identify both favorable and negative changes throughout the purchase cycle. Marketers can track how their target audience feels post-campaign at each stage of the buying journey; from awareness, perception, consideration as well as purchase intent. This is why brand lift is so important—it can be a key metric of what people plan to do after they see your ad, and whether your efforts have improved the chances of converting them to customers.

Net Promoter Score® (NPS) measures experience management based on a scale ranging from poor to positive. The scale rating typically ranges from 0 to 10. SurveyMonkey provides a variety of templates  you can use to get the answers that will help you measure the effectiveness of your product, services, stores, web pages, and employee experience. NPS is also useful for tracking social media campaigns. 

Tracking brand loyalty determines just how dependent consumers are on your brand. Achieving brand loyalty reflects customers' dedication toward your brand, which ultimately tells you about the quality of your products or services. It also demonstrates its strength. When consumers become loyal customers, your brand increases its chance of longevity. Brand loyalty helps determine how likely customers will buy your product or service again.      

Brand association relates to the consumers' emotions and experiences with a company, its brand, product, or service. It also measures how consumers perceive your business. Using this approach, you can also analyze how your competitors are perceived and how your brand correlates with theirs. Brand association also helps determine consumers' negative and positive relations with a business, product, or service. 

Many businesses interested in understanding their brand health and performance fail to get started, simply because they don’t know where to start. Insights into your brand performance can be obtained from so many different sources that it can be an overwhelming process. We recommend starting with a brand tracking solution, which will give you a structured survey for your target audience. From their responses, you can learn about their perceptions, awareness, understanding of your company, and usage of your brand. 

There are 3 main benefits of utilizing brand tracking surveys:

  1. Gather a large amount of data at once - One of the challenges with brand tracking is that there are so many moving parts. For example, if you want a comprehensive insight into the performance of your brand, you might want to track brand awareness, brand lift, and brand usage. That’s a lot of data! Using surveys makes the job much easier because you can capture a range of different pieces of information from a potentially large audience, relatively quickly.
  1. It’s possible to replicate the process quickly - For brand tracking to be most effective, it needs to be performed continuously. One of the great things about brand tracking surveys is that once they’ve been designed, they can be readministered repeatedly, giving you both a baseline and new, up to date, insights so you can track changes in your brand health in realtime.
  1. Measure impact accurately - What’s the best way to find out whether a strategy has impacted your customers in the way you intended? Simply to ask them, of course. For instance, if you’ve recently developed a new social media campaign in order to build brand awareness, you can use a brand tracking survey to ask your target market whether they’re aware of the campaign, how they interacted with it, and whether the campaign improved their awareness of your brand. Let’s take a deeper dive into how else you can measure impact with a brand tracking survey.
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Let’s take a look  at how brands can use brand tracking surveys to achieve better advertising campaign results. Pretend you’re a shoe manufacturer who launched your latest brand advertising campaign with posters touting your newest running shoe in buses and subways.

Do you know if the ads influence your target market, or translate it to a lift in sales? Maybe using a QR code or a special offer can give you some loose indication of the posters’ impact, but counting scans or downloads doesn’t tell you how consumers feel about your brand as a result of the campaign.

When you conduct a brand tracking survey in conjunction with your advertising campaigns, you can get a much better sense of the overall impact–and get customer insights to help inform future campaigns. 

The key is to find out how consumers feel about your brand before you launch your ads, then to reassess after. That way, you can see if (and how) your new brand strategy is affecting your target market. Additionally, you can set benchmarks to measure your brand health over time.

When you want to see how aware consumers are of your brand, the best way to make sure you’re getting a true measure of whether or not you’re present in consumers’ minds is to give them an initial survey with unaided questions (questions that do not include your brand name–consumers recall your brand without being given a hint.)

Example: When you think of running shoes, what brands come to mind? 

Respondents can write in any brands they can think of, and you can use the answers to give you an accurate measure of whether or not consumers know who you are. In addition, you now know who your major competitors are–and can measure your brand against them in other surveys down the road. Measure how aware consumers are of your brand with the Brand Awareness Survey Template.

With brand usage questions, you want to measure if people have used your brand in the past, if they use it now, and how frequently they purchase your product or service. You should also ask if they’re purchasing other brands. Remember, you already know which other brands to include in your survey questions because you asked consumers to name brands in your brand awareness question.

Example: Please indicate which of the following brands you buy or use regularly. (Select all that apply.)

  • Brooks
  • Nike
  • Mizuno
  • Asics
  • New Balance
  • Other (Please specify)

Make sure to include an “Other (Please specify)” option so that you don’t force respondents to choose an answer that doesn’t reflect how they truly feel. You can also learn about other popular competitors by including a text box that allows respondents to provide their own answer.

In an initial survey, ask open-ended questions to see what consumers expect from products like yours.

Examples:

  • What are some positive words you would use to describe running shoes?
  • What are some negative words you would use to describe running shoes?
  • What are some traits would you say is most important for running shoes to have?

To get deeper insights, follow up by asking respondents to rate your competitive set on attributes that you know are important to consumers. This approach will help you see which characteristics consumers associate with your brand (and your competitors) so you can play up certain concepts in your brand advertising campaign.

Example: We would like to know whether or not you associate the following characteristics with each brand provided. Select all of the characteristics that apply to each brand. If you have never heard of a particular brand, please leave those rating boxes blank.

Example table with shoe brands and their potential associated characteristics listed

To see how purchase intent changes after your campaign, ask the same question before and after, using a Likert scale to measure how likely they are to purchase your product.

Example: How likely are you to purchase Brooks running shoes in the future?

  • Extremely likely
  • Quite likely
  • Moderately likely
  • Slightly likely
  • Not at all likely

You can also ask purchase intent questions about where consumers will make their purchase (online or in-store); if online, through which site; and when, (in the next month, 6 months, 12 months) so you can track and predict purchase behavior that will inform the timing and location of your next campaign.

You can run an initial demographic survey to find people who’d be inclined to purchase running shoes–and continue to target that demographic frequently. After you perform your initial brand tracking survey, and you’ve got your first set of data, you should repeat that survey often to note trends over time. Through SurveyMonkey Audience, we can also help you find thousands of qualified respondents.

Rapidly growing companies or companies in a quickly changing market should engage in brand tracking research on a quarterly basis. Companies in other markets should run brand surveys 1-2 times a year. Whichever interval you choose, be sure to stay consistent so you can accurately monitor positive and negative trends–so your next brand advertising campaign will reach the right people at the right time (and send the right message).

Monitor brand health using SurveyMonkey to collect real-time insights and take advatage of their brand awareness and brand performance survey templates. Create an account to select a plan that best suits your business needs. 

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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