Measure Brand Awareness: Build Brand Power

How smart brands measure awareness, recall, and improve their brand power.

Today, you’ll rarely find a company that’s the only one in its market. Want a can of chicken noodle soup? If you go to your local grocery store, you’ll see at least 10 different soup brands, priced roughly the same, with roughly the same ingredients. What makes you choose one brand over the other? Is it the taste? Maybe. What about Pepsi and Coca-Cola?

What is brand awareness?

If you’re involved in marketing, you know that your job is to make sure people are choosing your soup (or cola, or running shoes, or cable service…) no matter how similar it is to your competition’s product. But where do you start?

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First, you need to figure out where you stand in terms of brand awareness. Brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with your product or service. Is your brand the first that comes to mind when someone wants to buy a laptop? When you know how visible (or invisible) you are to consumers, you can target your marketing efforts accordingly (so you can drive more traffic to your website or store).

Find out how popular you are with consumers with a brand awareness survey.

Writing effective brand recall and brand recognition survey questions

When you’re writing a brand awareness survey, you want to take two measurements. The first is brand recall, which is your consumers’ ability to remember your brand without help. Because you need to get a true measure of how well consumers know your brand, you don’t want to bias them by presenting them with your company name right away. For example, if you really want to know how present your brand is in consumers’ minds, ask them unaided (no brand name help) questions like these:

  • How familiar are you with canned soup?
  • When you think of canned soup, what brands come to mind?

Your first question, “How familiar are you with canned soup?” can be a multiple-choice question with answer choices like these:

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

The second unaided brand recall question, “When you think of canned soup, what brands come to mind?” can be an open-ended question–meaning you should give your survey respondents a text box where they write in any brand they can think of (Progresso, Campbell’s, Amy’s, Healthy Choice, etc.).

Aided brand recognition

Once you know if consumers have your brand in mind, the second measurement you should take is brand recognition (your consumers’ ability to recognize your brand among a list of alternatives). Use aided questions, in which you mention your brand, to measure how you stack up against your biggest competitors:

  • Have you heard of Progresso?
  • How familiar are you with Progresso?
  • Which of the following brands of canned soup have you heard of?
  • Which of the following brands of canned soup have you purchased?
  • Which of the following brands of canned soup do you currently have in your home?

But when you ask a brand recognition survey question like, “Which of the following brands of canned soup have you purchased?” how do you know which brands to present to consumers when you write out your answer choices? Do you remember the open-ended brand recall question, “When you think of canned soup, what brands come to mind?” Because your respondents already entered in the brands they’re familiar with, you’ve got the most popular brands (and most likely your biggest competitors) at your fingertips.

So your answer choices for your aided brand recall question, “Which of the following brands of canned soup have you heard of?” would be the following:

  • Progresso
  • Campbell’s
  • Amy’s
  • Healthy Choice
  • Other (Please specify)

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.)

Digging deeper: Understanding what consumers think of your brand

Finding out how familiar or aware consumers are of your brand is only one part of the equation. If you want to assess your overall brand power, create a brand attributes survey to see if your company is meeting consumers’ expectations. Read more about creating a brand attributes survey.