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Unaided vs aided brand awareness survey questions: What do they tell you?

How to test for brand recall and brand recognition

If you work as a marketer, sooner or later you’re bound to come across the term “brand awareness.” Brand awareness is a powerful concept worth paying attention to; it indicates whether people have heard of or recognize your brand, and it’s also a way to measure whether or not your advertising is successful.

Quite simply, brand awareness measures how familiar people are with your brand or product. If people recognize your product’s name, or if they can point it out on a shelf, you have an advantage over brands that people don’t recognize or can’t name.

Brand awareness indicates the health of a brand and is a common tool to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Say your company has invested heavily in a TV advertising and print campaign to promote your bottled water brand.

One way to tell if the campaign was effective is to send out a brand awareness survey, following the campaign, to find out if people recognize your brand. If they do recognize the brand, you have a solid indication that your campaign is noteworthy and that people recall the brand because they saw and paid attention to the advertisements.

From creating surveys to finding the right people to take them, SurveyMonkey Audience makes brand research easy

Brand awareness tells you if people are familiar with your brand, but to really gauge how impressionable your brand is, you will want to test unaided and aided brand awareness in your survey.

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

A measure of the number of people who express knowledge of a brand or product when prompted (brand recognition).

You can measure both aided and unaided brand awareness in the same survey by including a mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions. Here’s how.

If people can recognize your brand name out of a list of competing brands, that’s a good start and a solid indication that your marketing efforts are reaching people. However, a stronger indication of your brand strength can be measured through unaided brand awareness.

Unaided brand awareness indicates that your brand impression was noteworthy enough that your brand is top of mind for consumers. To measure unaided brand awareness, you would ask an open-ended question, where you don’t mention your brand name specifically. You’re trying to see if people will come up with it on their own, or unaided. It’s a good idea to ask unaided brand awareness questions first–so that you get accurate results.

Here’s a sample question:

What bottled water brands are you familiar with? (Please write your answers in the box below)

In this question, you would give your survey respondents a text box to fill in their open-ended answers. If they include your brand in their answers, you will know that your brand has strong unaided brand awareness.

To write an aided brand awareness survey question, you’ll prompt people with your brand name to see if they recognize it. As an example, let’s go back to our bottled water survey. An aided brand awareness question might look like this:

Which of the following bottled water brands have you heard of? (Select all that apply)

  • Aquafina
  • Dasani
  • SmartWater
  • (Insert your brand name)
  • Fiji

In this aided brand awareness question, you are measuring whether people can recognize your brand out of a list of well-known bottled water brands. If people can recognize your brand, then you’ll know that people have paid attention to your campaign or noticed the product on a shelf.

Measuring aided and unaided brand awareness is just one way to learn how strong your brand is and how well your advertising is working. Dig deeper to find out just how strong your brand is in the minds of consumers with our branding resources on: