BRAND HEALTH AND TRACKING
In the ever-shifting sands of the market, brand tracking is what illuminates your brand’s true position. It’s where data meets intuition, offering a clear lens to view your company’s heartbeat and resonance. Curious about the pulse of your brand amidst the bustling marketplace and wondering how you can stay ahead of the curve? This guide will walk you through the basics. Tracking your brand’s health could be the game-changer you’re looking for.
How do I track and measure Brand Health?
Why Measure and Track Brand Health?
You can only improve what you measure – Tom Peter
Measuring the health of a brand gives marketers the ability to manage the brand and identify the levers to improve its performance. Without measurement, marketers have a limited understanding of how external market forces impact the brand, how consumers respond to the brand, and the competitive context in which the brand must perform if it is to win the battle for consumer minds, hearts and wallets. Let us start by understanding each of the elements that drive brand health.
What is Brand Health?
First, a brand is a complex concept to which people attach meaning. The strength of the association that people attach to the brand lives in peoples’ memories, which in turn drives brand use / purchase.
Understanding the health of a brand is the first step in understanding brand performance. It draws upon a range of different sources of information about the brand and the market and how this overall relates to two other important concepts, brand value and brand equity
What is Brand Equity?
The equity in your brand is what the brand is worth as the direct outcome of how much people are prepared to pay, how many they purchase, the size they purchase and how often they purchase the product associated with the brand. Brand equity is measured through financial reporting in terms of sales and share price.
What is Brand Value?
- Has a refreshing taste (product attribute)?
- Can be consumed on the run (functional attribute)
- Is an environmentally friendly brand (rational attribute)
- Is a brand for someone like me (emotional attribute)?
- Personality e.g. A courageous brand, A caring brand
- Positioning e.g. A brand for young people, An innovative brand
What to measure when tracking Brand Health?
Brand health trackers can be short and simple, or lengthy and detailed. The scale of brand health tracking depends on the complexity of the category or market the brand operates in, the depth of information required by the business for decision making, and the budget set aside for tracking.
The types of measures included in a brand health tracker fall into four basic buckets:
- Brand funnel metrics – a classic brand funnel should measure awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, repeat, and loyalty
- Brand behaviours
- Brand attitudes
Most brand health trackers include the following metrics to create a traditional brand funnel.
- Spontaneous Awareness => saliency issue
- Prompted Awareness => saliency issue
- Ever used/purchased => trial issue
- Consideration => product issue
- Used/purchased => position issue
- Main brand => preference/loyalty issue
Consumer attitudes measured in brand health tracking help to assess the personality and positioning of the brand, and the brand’s product attributes (rational and emotional) relative to competitors. The marketer needs to decide what is important for motivating consumers to purchase the brand, for example, brand personality may be more important to measure in high involvement categories such as vehicle purchase e.g. Mercedes vs. BMW than in low involvement categories such as packet soup.
Advertising awareness measures are often included in brand health trackers to enable marketers to assess whether exposure to advertising has affected trial, use/purchase frequency, or perceptions of the brand.
From the brand health tracking research, you should expect to get several outputs, for example brand funnels and brand scorecards, depending what you are tracking. Brand funnels assess consumer brand awareness, consideration, purchase, so you can understand how to convert their behaviour from being aware of your brand to purchasing. Funnels may also be drawn for advertising awareness to assess whether exposure to advertising has affected trial, brand perceptions, usage or purchase frequency. A Brand Scorecard is a report card that shows how your brand is tracking against competitors on particular attributes of interest. These can be continuously measured or in waves. Other outputs could include brand perception maps, purchase intent charts and so forth.
Tips for best practice Brand Health Tracking
We have put together a cheat sheet for designing a brand health tracker that will provide a meaningful framework for decision making for most brands. Get your scribble pad and let’s get going.
Define your target audience carefully
You and your team need to define a competitive context for the brand that makes sense. A target market definition usually takes into consideration:
- Consumer Behaviour (what have they purchased/ bought), Consumption (drank, ate etc), Specific behaviour (used, visited, played, own etc.), Qualification (e.g. have a driving license; specific venues or stores) etc.
- Time related to the behaviour: last 7 days, last 4 weeks (L4W), last 12 months etc.
- Intention (e.g. Intend to buy a new car in the next 12 months)
- Non-rejection of the category (e.g. Adults who do not reject using packet mix soups)
- The demographics associated with the market (e.g. for tracking a mattress brand we may need to consider all to be aged 25+ plus and living out of home)
Have a big enough sample size
The sample size for a wave of brand health tracking needs to be sufficiently large enough so that you can …
- Identify significant differences between waves on key brand health measures
- Undertake analysis on your brand, key competitor brands, or target purchaser/user segments within the wave
- Make meaningful decisions from the research
- Niche target audiences can be difficult to find and expensive and this is always a consideration when designing the research, but where possible, a sample size of n=1000 per wave is a good starting point
Measure only what you need to
It is important to collect only the data you need. This will save you time, money and improve the quality of the response.
- It is tempting to include every measure we possibly can in a brand health tracker, but questionnaires that are too long result in respondent fatigue and affect the quality of the data.
- Identify with your team the measures that must be reported internally, the measures your team will use to make decisions regularly, and most importantly, the measures that define your brand’s success. These questions will form the core of the tracker and are included in every tracking wave.
- Tracking provides your team with flexibility. Questions that measure aspects of the brand or market that take a long time to change (e.g. Brand attitudes), or may be seasonal for example, can be appended to the standard tracking research questionnaire on a less frequent basis and when they make most sense to track for example, 6 monthly instead of quarterly.
Consider the frequency of your tracking ‘dips’
- Categories which are fast moving need to be tracked more frequently (e.g. monthly) than slower moving categories with longer purchase cycles (e.g. Quarterly, 6-monthly).
- How often your business needs brand health information to make decisions. This will relate to brand planning and budget cycles.
- The size of the research budget will dictate how frequently you can track. Your market research consultant can work through with you how to adjust the research to fit the budget e.g. Broader target audience, smaller sample size per wave, shorter survey lengths etc.
- Be consistent – tracking reliability relies on uniformity
Tracking brand health meaningfully means consistency so that you are comparing apples with apples. Consistent tracking enables the creation of benchmarks over time for your brand, competitor brands and for the market so you can reliably understand your brand’s performance against competitors due to your marketing today. Benchmarks also allow you to assess seasonal changes or the impact any market changes have on your brand (such as new competitors entering, or the impact of a pandemic).
A reliable Brand Health measure depends on:
- Maintaining a consistent questionnaire and a stable methodological framework so that any changes detected between waves of research are due to real changes in the market and not to extraneous factors.
- Including the right questions when you establish the brand health tracker means you need to think extra hard about making any changes once it is established.
- Ensuring waves or ‘dips’ happen and the same points in time and that those points in time are relevant for your business decision making
- Understanding that brand health tracking research becomes more valuable with time. Using benchmarks enables you to assess your current performance against past performance and allows you to set targets for future performance for better brand planning.
Common Pitfalls in tracking brand health
We’ve already established how tracking brand health is pivotal for grasping your company’s standing in the marketplace. Yet, numerous businesses grapple with hurdles along this journey. Here are some common challenges and solutions to overcome them:
Lack of clear objectives
Many companies start tracking brand health without a clear understanding of what they want to achieve. This can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of data. The solution is to set clear, measurable objectives before starting any brand health tracking initiative.
For instance, a new beverage company might aim to understand its brand’s initial perception among millennials in urban areas. By setting a specific target like “Increase brand awareness by 20% among urban millennials within six months”, the company can tailor its tracking methods and surveys to this demographic, ensuring more accurate and actionable insights.
Over-reliance on quantitative data
While numbers are important, relying solely on quantitative data can make one miss out on the nuances of consumer perception. It’s akin to watching a movie in black and white — you get the plot, but you miss out on the vibrant hues of emotion and context. To avoid this, combine quantitative data with qualitative research and insights, such as focus groups or open-ended survey questions, to get a holistic view.
Not considering all brand touchpoints
Brands interact with consumers at multiple touchpoints, from social media to in-store experiences. Ignoring any of these can lead to an incomplete picture. For instance, a consumer might see an ad for a coffee chain on Instagram, visit the physical store and then post about their experience. Each of these touchpoints offers a unique perspective on the brand. Now, suppose this customer’s social media post ends up being inherently negative. If the coffee chain only focuses on the positive Instagram engagement and overlooks the critical customer review, they’re missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.
To avoid this, companies must cast a wide net and ensure all brand touchpoints are considered in the brand tracking process. By adopting a comprehensive tracking approach, brands can capture the full essence of their consumer interactions. This not only provides a more accurate representation of brand health but also highlights areas that might need attention.
Can I do this myself?
There are a range of DIY approaches to market research, and it is possible, however you run the risk of measuring the wrong variables, or in the wrong way, with the wrong people. You may also lose benefit of objectivity from the analysis and robustness from the methodology and it will also mean that you will likely spend a lot of time doing, rather than using.A good market research agency skilled in brand health tracking can help you get the most out of your budget, to answer the most important questions you need from decision making. This is a marketing investment, rather than an expense.
Brand health tracking means that you can manage and improve the performance of your brand. Brand health tracking can give marketers and their business leaders confidence to make decisions. Whether you have a niche brand or large mainstream brand, Brand health tracking is an excellent investment. Establishing a meaningful brand tracking research program takes time and is not a one size fits all exercise. It is critical to get expert advice and invest in the right solution for your needs. Ruby Cha Cha has breadth of experience in brand health tracking for small, medium and large businesses and can help you plan and implement a quality brand metrics tracker that will transform your marketing and help you make better decisions.
Interested in elevating your brand’s potential? Considering brand health and tracking for your brand? Reach out to us for tailored insights and strategies.