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How measuring awareness can help your brand marketing

Learn how brand awareness contributes to larger business strategies.

Every brand wants to be what Kleenex is to tissue, Chapstick to lip balm, Band-Aid to adhesive bandages, Jell-o to gelatin, and so on.

Getting a brand to become synonymous with a whole category is the ultimate achievement in brand awareness, the measurement of how much customers know a product or service. That’s where the phrase “top of mind” comes from— these household names are the first thing that comes to mind when a consumer thinks of a certain product category, even before the actual product name. 

Brand awareness, therefore, is a very important measurement for any kind of business.

If you need information to understand it better, want to know how to measure and build brand awareness, and need tips on how to engage in brand marketing in order to increase the consumers’ awareness of your brand, you’re in the right place.

Launch a brand tracking study with the help of our trusted audience panel and expert methodology.

Brand marketing is more than just advertising your product or service. It’s a holistic, long-term, and strategic plan that involves a range of efforts designed to continuously bolster awareness and recognition of your brand, as well as its reputation. Essentially, brand marketing is a continuous expression of what your brand is all about and who it is for. When you invest in brand marketing efforts, you establish and grow a relationship with your target audience. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of brand marketing.

The benefits of brand marketing are myriad. Here are some examples:

When you engage in activities that leverage your brand, you improve awareness and understanding of your brand among customers. In today’s hyper-competitive marketplaces, the value of this advantage cannot be underestimated. When your target audience says to themselves, “I know that brand,” they’re more likely to choose your products and services over those of your rivals.

Have you ever wondered why well-known brands like Coca-Cola and Apple devote so much of their marketing budgets to brand building? You might wonder what they have to gain, since they’re already so popular and successful. In fact, investing these huge amounts in marketing. For example, it's estimated that Coca-Cola has spent around $20 billion on branding in the past five years alone. Strong brands build loyal customer bases. When customers are continuously exposed to positive representations of your brand that resonate with them, they’re less likely to switch to a competitor. And that means they’ll spend more.

How do you know if your advertising is going to land as intended and make an impact? Brand marketing helps to improve the chances that your advertising will be a success because your brand essentially acts as a guarantee for the customer. Any new advertising that originates from a strong brand that they believe in will be met with curiosity and interest. And, if you’re interested in testing ad effectiveness, we have a solution for you. 

What’s the secret to building a brand marketing strategy? We recommend the following 6 steps:

  1. Set goals for success - Before embarking on any strategic exercise, it's always crucial to articulate what you want to get out of it. Brand marketing is no different, and it can be used to pursue a number of different goals. Typical goals that you might want to set out to achieve through brand marketing include, but are not limited to: 
    • Developing a brand identity and image
    • Raising brand awareness
    • Developing brand loyalty
    • Creating brand engagement
  1. Build your brand - Next, you’ll need to articulate what your brand means to you, and how you hope to convey it to your target market. Whether you’re an established enterprise or a brand new business, you’ll probably need to engage in an internal branding exercise, where you define your mission and values, articulate your target brand identity and reflect on the extent to which it aligns with your external identity, or how customers perceive your brand. Our brand tracker solution can help you glean real-time insights into how your brand is received by your target audience, or try our brand perception survey template. 
  1. Identify your audiences - Very few brands will be targeting everyone at once. Ask yourself: who is our target audience? What are their wants and needs? How can our audience be segmented, and which segments should be prioritized? By understanding who you’re trying to reach, you’ll be best positioned to actually reach them and influence them through your brand marketing activities.  
  1. Create marketing messages and assets - The creation of marketing materials and messages should only proceed once you know what you’re trying to convey (your brand identity) and to whom (your target audience). That way, you’ll be well-positioned to tailor your messages and assets in a way that will be impactful and land as intended. 
  1. Run, test, and optimize advertising campaigns - Although understanding your brand identity and audience will improve your chances of brand marketing success, leave nothing to chance.  Advertising is very expensive, and you’ll want to make sure your investment is a sound one. Test ad effectiveness with your target audience, tweak messages and materials as required, and optimize your chances of success. If this sounds like too much work, let us help. 
  1. Re-evaluate and change as needed - In order to evaluate the effectiveness of brand marketing efforts, you’ll need to gather data. You could use surveys that  directly capture whether your target audiences’ awareness or impressions of your brand change before and after marketing efforts. Use these insights to shape, refine and optimize your future marketing efforts. 

A simple definition of brand awareness is that it is the extent to which consumers are familiar with your product or service. It’s clearly one of the first steps in a marketer’s road to success: They need to make sure consumers know their brand and, hopefully, prefer it over the competition when making a purchase.

If you succeed at increasing awareness of your brand, you can expect to realize a host of benefits:

  • Increased sales and market share - Typically, brand awareness is the first step on the road to driving sales and acquiring new customers. If you focus on building awareness of your brand with relevant, high-quality target audiences, more of the right people will know about your brand, products, and services, which increases your chances of converting those people into customers.
  • Improved brand perceptions - Brand awareness campaigns not only increase the proportion of people who know about your brand - they can also be highly valuable in transforming the way that people think about your brand, driving brand equity and brand loyalty. 
  • Optimized competitive strategies -  Knowing how aware customers are of your brand is a crucial tool for developing your competitive strategies. If brand awareness is low, you’ll need to focus on building recognition. But, if awareness of your brand is high, you can concentrate on building your reputation, or cultivating loyalty. 

Is your brand the first one that comes to mind when someone wants to buy a laptop? Hire a website developer? Buy furniture?

You need to make this kind of measurement to know how visible (or invisible) you are in the eyes of consumers in your target market. With this knowledge, you will be better prepared to decide on a brand marketing strategy that will help you in building a brand and, in the end, getting actual (foot or web) traffic to your store.

Unfortunately, the truth is that most marketers don’t know how to accurately measure brand awareness, as we found out through one of our own surveys: 76% of respondents admitted not knowing what percentage of their target market was aware of their brand, and nearly 70% confessed they didn’t know how to find this out.

Online brand awareness surveys can be a powerful tool to solve this conundrum, as we will see below. But first, let’s look at the two fundamental concepts necessary to understand brand awareness.

There are two basic measurements that you need to make in a brand awareness survey: Brand recall and brand recognition.

Brand recall is the consumers’ ability to remember your brand without help. As you can imagine, it’s a very valuable achievement for any company and a good measure of brand power. It gives you a clear view of how well consumers know your brand, because they are not biased by seeing or hearing your company name right away.

Brand recognition is your consumers’ ability to recognize your brand when sandwiched in the middle of a list of other alternatives. Once you know whether your consumers have your brand in mind, you can start comparing its performance against direct competitors.

If you want to build brand awareness, where should you start? A brand awareness survey can help you determine how recognizable and memorable your brand is, and whether or not your focal audience recalls any marketing messages or creative associated with your brand marketing efforts. Administered to a carefully crafted audience, you’ll soon gain insight into how aware people are of your brand, and whether it's time to take corrective action through brand building. 

Here’s an example of a brand awareness survey.

Brand awareness surveys should measure both brand recall and recognition. In order to capture brand recall, you might ask survey respondents something like: When you think about organic tea, which brands come to mind?

Respondents should then be prompted to enter as many brand names as possible into an open-ended answer box. You can use frequency analysis to measure how often your brand was named relative to your competitors. Brand recognition can be measured by presenting respondents with a closed list of brand names, including your own, and by asking them to tick the brands they’ve heard of. If the number of respondents ticking your brand is low - you have some work to do to build brand awareness!

Ready to measure brand awareness using surveys? We have a handy template available for you.

Now that you understand these two key measurements, you need to know how to ask brand awareness survey questions that will show you how your brand is performing along those metrics.

In fact, there’s a specific kind of question for each of them: They are called unaided and aided brand awareness survey questions. Let’s look at their definitions and some examples.

Unaided brand awareness definition: A measure of the number of people who express knowledge of a brand or product without prompting (brand recall).

Here’s an example of an unaided question:

When you think of canned soup, what brands come to mind?

This type of question usually requires an answer written in a text box.

Aided brand awareness definition: The number of people who have some level of knowledge of a brand or product when prompted. Aided questions mention your own brand to measure how it stacks up against competitors. For example:

Have you heard of Progresso?

You could follow up with other similar questions like the following:

  1. Which of the following brands of canned soup have you purchased?
  2. Which of the following brands of canned soup do you currently have in your home

Note that there’s an “Other (Please specify)” option at the end of the list. Part of writing a good survey is making sure you never force respondents to choose an answer that doesn’t reflect how they really feel. (And you want to make sure you haven’t overlooked any other relevant brands.)

Help you understand where to focus your marketing efforts. Brand marketing is quite an investment, and as we’ve said earlier, it can be used to support a number of different goals. The key to ensuring that your investment is a wise one is to know what those goals are. Brand awareness surveys help you to work out where to focus your attention. If your surveys reveal low brand awareness, you should set brand marketing goals around making your brand known and memorable. If awareness is higher than expected, it might be that your attention should be on driving satisfaction. Brand awareness surveys are the first step on the road to optimizing your brand marketing campaigns.

A little-known advantage of brand awareness surveys is that they can help you get to know your audience better. Who knows about your brand (and who doesn’t)? Where are the people who know about your brand located? What are their demographics? How can untapped audiences be reached? With the answers to questions like these, you can devise retargeting strategies, identify the most lucrative segments and optimize future marketing campaigns. 

Once you start measuring your brand awareness, recall, and recognition—and you should do it often to be able to track their evolution—you’ll probably need some tactics to make sure those metrics improve constantly. We have a very useful blog post on how to use brand marketing to increase your brand awareness and grow your business. Here’s a summary of the tips:

  • Make sure that your brand has a unique personality that will not be mistaken for any other.
  • Be consistent in using your brand image, including logo, colors, design, etc.
  • Launch a referral program offering rewards to existing customers for bringing their connections into the fold.
  • Organize and host events where people who should know about your brand get exposed to it directly.
  • Keep a blog with quality content related to your business, including infographics, videos, and articles.
  • Post often on social media and keep a conversation going with customers and ‘influencers.’
  • Optimize your web content for search engines, so that customers will find you when looking up information related to your business.
  • Use paid search ads to have your website displayed prominently when people are looking for related information.

Check out the following pages to read in-depth about additional brand marketing concepts:

And if you want to measure brand awareness using surveys, set up your SurveyMonkey account today. We have a range of plans suitable for businesses of all sizes.

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