Brand Tracking: What It Is and Why It Matters

Share this article

Brand tracking is the method used to tap into the thoughts, feelings, wants, needs and perceptions of consumers in your target market and understand how they view your and competitor brands.

By collecting this information periodically over time, brands can answer important marketing questions and inform marketing strategy. Continuous monitoring also allows you to measure the impact of yours and competitors marketing activity and brand growth.

In this article we will dive deep into Brand Tracking and help you understand:

  1. What brand tracking is and how it works
  2. Why brands are important?
  3. What brand tracking measures?
  4. How to set up a brand tracking program
  5. How to use brand tracking data
  6. Common Brand Tracking Issues / What to Avoid
  7. Final thoughts…

What brand tracking is and how it works?

brand tracking importance

Brand tracking is the process of monitoring and measuring brand associations and brand performance over time. This can be done through a variety of methods, including surveys, focus groups, social media listening, and brand tracking studies.

The goal of brand tracking studies is to understand how consumers perceive your brand in comparison to your competitors. They help you discover what their needs and wants are, and how you can improve your offering.

Tracking brand perception and brand associations over time also allows you to measure the impact of your marketing activity and gauge whether what your doing is leading to brand growth.

Brand tracking is an essential tool for any business that wants to understand their brand performance, This includes brand usage, market share and brand loyalty. By understanding how consumers feel about your brand, you can make informed decisions in your marketing strategy and brand investment.

Why Brands are important

Your brand is what defines your organisation and differentiates you from your competitors. It can be communicated to consumers through a range of brand assets (like logos, colours, jingles and slogans). And through different marketing methods that communicate your personality or attributes that demonstrate what makes you unique.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin 

Defining your brand is important. It helps separate you from other organisations that are competing for the same set of customers. If a customer is able to understand what you represent and that representation aligns with the customers own image and needs, then they are more likely to choose your products when making a purchase.

Brand memorability is also a key consideration. If a consumer does not remember your brand at the time of purchase, then they are likely to purchase a competitor. A skillful marketer can utilise a mix of brand assets in their marketing efforts. This helps consumers form a connection between a product and your brand.

Brand asset examples include:

Apple Logo

apple-logo

L’OREAL Slogan

l'oreal_slogan

McDonalds Logo

mcdonalds_logo

Vegemite Jingle

“It puts a roooose in everyyyyy cheek”

Nike Slogan

just-do-it-slogan

AAMI Jingle

“Luckyyyyy you’re with AAMI”

What Brand Tracking Measures

Whilst there are many relatively common brand metrics used to measure a brand’s performance, a good brand tracking study will be purpose built for an organisation to monitor the KPI’s that are most important for their brand.

In most cases it is important for brands to understand and measure their funnel. A simple funnel would include questions such as:

 
Brand awareness:

Understanding the proportion of consumers that are aware of your brand, using both unaided awareness and aided awareness. (Check out our Top 5 Brand Awareness Survey Questions here.)

 
Brand consideration: 

Of those that are aware, how many would consider purchasing from your brand.

 
Brand preference:

How often are you the preferred purchase choice.

brand_funnel
Brand Loyalty:

This is another important metric that should be measured. If customers are happy with your brand, they are much more likely to return. It generally costs an organisation significantly less to please an existing customer as opposed to acquiring a new one.

The most popular loyalty question used globally is the Net Promoter Score (or NPS). This asks “How likely you would be to recommend a brand to your friends or family”. It has been suggested that NPS correlates strongly to sales performance. Therefore measuring and trying to improve this metric can help ensure overall organisation success.

net_promoter_score

For a list of other brand health metrics and an explanation of how they are commonly used, check out this article here.

How to set up a brand tracking program?

Surveys are a tried and true data collection method for brand tracking studies. They allow you to measure key metrics and to better understand your customer’s brand experience. But how do you go about setting up a brand tracker?

brand-strategy-meeting

First, you’ll need to determine what your goals are – do you want to get a read on your market share? Or measure brand recall, customer satisfaction or purchase intent? Once you’ve decided on your goals, you’ll need to write a series of questions that will be programmed into a survey.

This survey will then be sent to your target audiences and existing customers. They will provide feedback that will help you track the progress of your brand.

You can try and do all of this yourself, or you can seek a research agency to do it for you. So what’s the best option?

Built-it-yourself:

Some brands do manage their own brand tracking program by researching brand tracking metrics to use and writing their own questions. Whilst on the face of it this can appear more cost effective, it often ends up being problematic. Brands are usually unaware of research best practice and can stumble across issues that a skilled market researcher would avoid.

Marketers who go down the do-it-yourself path often find they end up spending an inordinate amount of time on the brand tracker. This time should otherwise be spent on their primary marketing role.

Using a Brand Research agency:

Setting up and managing brand trackers can be a complex and time-consuming task. That’s why we would always recommend engaging a brand research agency to help build, run, and analyse the data for your brand tracker.

A good agency will work as a partner with your organisation. They will understand what is important for you to measure (e.g. brand equity). Then they will make suggestions on the best way to illicit that information from your target audiences.

There is also the added complexity of coordinating with a consumer panel to find people in your target audiences. On top of this, understanding margin of error, data cleaning and general sample management can be problematic.

All of this can be effectively managed for you by a research agency. As a result, you can focus on using the data from your brand tracking study to allow your marketing teams to make informed decisions about your brand strategy.

How to use brand tracking data?

So now that we understand a little more about brand tracking studies, let’s look at how we can use them to measure our brands.

Understanding Target Audience:

A good research agency will be able to segment your data and analyse your target audiences. This will ensure they are responding to your marketing activity and contributing to brand growth.

 
Measure KPI’s:

Brand tracking studies allow us to measure core marketing KPI’s. For example funnel metrics like brand awareness, brand consideration and brand preference. They can also help us understand brand equity and track our competitor’s performance to see who is over or under performing on the metrics that matter most.

 
Understanding the WHY:

Marketers often struggle to understand WHY customers do what they do. Measuring metrics such as awareness and loyalty are important. It is also important to include qualitative questioning (or open-ended questions) in any tracker to help complete the picture.

For example, asking a customer WHY they would not recommend a brand can shed light on a set of potential issues that need solving.

 
Optimize marketing campaigns:

Monitoring the effectiveness of your brand campaigns is an important component of any brand tracker. This can also allow you to fine tune your media mix to ensure an optimal result.

It is also possible to incorporate measurement of your advertising within your brand tracker. This will help you see how well your audiences are recognising your advertising and understanding the message you are trying to communicate.

Common Brand Tracking Issues / What to Avoid

brand_tracking_issues
Target Audience:

It’s critical to ensure you are researching the right audience. Having too broad an audience or too niche, can make your research irrelevant. To illustrate the point, there would be no point for a brand that sells lipstick conducting a survey on an entire country’s population, when only a small proportion of that population actually buys lipstick.

On the other hand, researching too niche an audience can have a negative result, when you are potentially not including other important market segments that purchase your brand. If you are unsure what audience to measure, we recommend getting advice from a professional market researcher.

 
Competitive Set:

Your brand tracker will include a range of competitive brands to allow you to measure yourself against the market. Generally there will be a large number of brands competing in any one industry. It will be impossible to incorporate all of these brand names in a survey for comprehensive measurement (we usually recommend no more than 10).

Therefore decisions will have to be made on who to include / exclude. This decision can have a big impact on the overall result from some metrics. For a holistic picture of the market we would generally recommend picking out a range of brands. This should include a few of the market leaders, a few of the smaller brands and some in between. There may also be brands that serve different niches or areas of the market, or have unique positioning that can be interesting to incorporate.

Again this is a discussion that can be had with your brand research agency and together decisions can be made on a list that will deliver the most benefit.

 
Sample Size:

Marketers often ask, “How many people should we survey”? This usually comes down to a cost / benefit trade off. By including more people in the research, we are able to reduce the margin of error on results and thus increase the accuracy of our data. However, the more people we include, the higher the cost of the research. There are also diminishing returns in terms of improvement on margin of error as the sample size gets greater.

For the majority of brand tracking studies, we would suggest that a sample size of 300 – 400 would be preferrable and provides a good balance between cost and accuracy of data.

 
Survey Length:

It is very easy for the number of questions in a brand tracking survey to get out of control. Too often we find a good questionnaire is written that will answer all the marketing questions of a brand.

The questionnaire will then get passed around throughout an organisation with every stakeholder making additions to answer their own very specific questions.

Don’t do this! A brand tracker is there to monitor your core marketing metrics. Its purpose is not a one-stop-shop research tool for your organisation.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend keeping your brand tracker tight, it should not need to be any longer than about 25 questions (or 10 minutes) in length. Beyond this the quality of data will reduce too, as survey takers get bored and put less thought into the questions they are answering.

 
Adding / Changing Metrics:

A brand tracker is used to track the performance of key metrics over a period of time. Therefore, it is recommended that you don’t make wholesale changes to your questions each time you measure your audience.

Realise too that subtle changes in wording or question structure can have significant impacts on data collected. Therefore avoid doing this if possible.

Whilst brand trackers do evolve over time and it is possible to incorporate new questions as your brands objectives shift. Think strategically, assess which metrics are important to your brand in the long term and review performance over time.

 

Final thoughts...

A brand tracker is not something that should be rushed. It is an important tool that will form the basis of your marketing strategy and there should be buy-in throughout the organisation.

When setting up a brand tracking study, take your time, do your research and talk to different market research agencies for advice. Your brand tracker will be used to monitor the on-going performance of your organisation. So make sure you tick all the boxes and set yourself up for long term success.

 

 
Brand Health – Brand Tracking Experts:

At Brand Health, we are brand tracking experts and can advise best practice when setting up your brand tracker for the first time. We offer free no obligation 30 minute research strategy sessions to new clients. We will discuss your brand and make recommendations specific to your situation. If you are interested in booking one of these sessions with an experienced researcher, click here.

Share this article

LinkedIn
Twitter
Email
Print

Let us be your guide

Discover how Brand Health can help you unlock insights to drive your brand’s growth!