Measuring Brand Awareness
What is brand awareness?
In any marketing role, your brand is your livelihood. Making consumers aware of your brand, and driving good-will towards the brand, it is paramount for long-term success...both for a company and any seasoned marketer.
In his industry classic, Dave Aaker describes three primary levels of brand awareness.
Top of mind awareness focuses on brands that capture initial mindshare. When I say "What motorcycle brands are you familiar with?" chances are you thought of Harley-Davidson. This is top of mind awareness. Becoming the first brand a consumer thinks of, or in some cases becoming synonymous with the category (e.g., Kleenex) is powerful, but also incredibly difficult to achieve.
Next, unaided recall is where people will recall your brand without assistance, but usually after they think of the 1 or 2 industry leaders. Using the same motorcycle example, you may think of Suzuki or Kawasaki, but you have to jog your memory a bit more.
Finally, recognition focuses on aided recall of a brand. If I gave you a list of motorcycle brands and you recognized half of them, it's a great metric to understand how the general consumer base perceives the brand...even if it's not immediately popping to mind.
How can we measure brand awareness?
Moreso than ever, today's data-driven world provides substantial opportunities to track your brand across a variety of platforms.
In the marketing and market-research world, surveys are the most commonly used way of tracking a brand. A key benefit is that not only can you get hard data around different levels of awareness (i.e., 32% top of mind awareness), but you can also understand what people think about your brand and marketing, to answer some of "why" questions around perception.
To increase reliability, blind surveys are conducted...where consumers do not know the purpose of the research.
In an online survey, you recruit a panel of consumers and expose them to a series of questions including:
Brand Awareness - Top of Mind Recall, Unaided Recall, and Aided Recall
Other Brand Funnel Metrics - Consideration, Usage, Recommendation
Equity Metrics - How do consumers feel about your brand
Personality Metrics - What personality does the brand exhibit (i.e., boldness, intellect, nurturing)
Demographics and Psychographics - For additional understanding about who is most likely to be aware of your brand
2. Website Data
While a survey is the best way to get a clean read on awareness, you can also use website traffic to understand awareness trends.
Looking at those who access your website directly via Google, rather than finding you via search terms, shows that those people know your name and are explicitly searching through your brand. While it's hard to get an exact percentage as you can in a survey (i.e., 23% of our target audience has aided recall of our brand), it should provide directional understanding of how your brand is growing overall awareness.
By focusing on the following metrics, you can quickly assess how the brand is performing:
Clicks to the website
Time spent on the site
Clickthroughs to other content
Sharing of specific website pages
All of these have direct implications on overall brand awareness and top-of-mind recall.
3. Social Media
It seems like everyone today is either a social-media influencer or are trying to sell you social media monitoring. However, despite metrics being inflated industry-wide, there are still some things to monitor.
First, you should pay attention to your holistic reach (followers) as well as engagement (likes, shares, etc.) as these provide a baseline understanding of awareness.
The other thing that social media provides is a lens into what your leading competitors are doing. Comparing direct metrics could be dangerous, as web traffic is notorious for inflation/false data. However, if you've been watching competitors for any amount of time, you can quickly tell what is real and what is not.
As you think about moving beyond measurement to growing your brand awareness, focus on the audience of your competitors. Not only do you know they are interested in the category, but you know they are willing to engage with brands. Harness this, create compelling content, and attract them to your brand.
If you have any questions about brand awareness or are interested in a brand awareness study, please contact us below. See our full list brand and marketing services.