Brand Tracking – Your Guidance System to Understanding Your Audience

Quantifying the return on your brand investment is crucial when it comes to making sound brand strategy decisions. Brand tracking can help you in making data-informed decisions in brand strategy by helping measure the changes in your brand perception over time and estimating the consumer brand value of your brand in comparison to your competitors.

Typically, brand tracking involves keeping a tab on all the factors that constitute brand health including brand awareness, reputation, brand characteristics, and consumer perceptions. The more accurate and actionable your brand tracking data and insights are – the more effective your brand strategy and execution can be. In order to achieve this, your brand tracking data needs to be exceptionally relevant to your specific KPIs, fine-tuned to your target audience, easy to segment and easily digestible by internal and external stakeholders (a.k.a. not a long and complicated spreadsheet).

A simple approach for consumer brands with small budgets but large followings on social media is to measure it in real-time with the right set of data,tools and social listening. Companies that don’t enjoy the privilege of large tracking budgets just need to get a bit more creative with their strategy. Many brands that offer more complex products and services have a predictably complex purchasing cycle with lead times. The intention here is to track the buyer’s journey through listening posts at strategic junctures (experiential data) with readily available behavioral data.

What is brand tracking?

Brand tracking involves the marketing efforts aimed at quantifying the effects of brand campaigns on sales, conversions, and customer perceptions. Brand tracking can help marketers take the pulse of their campaigns and brand efforts. You can relate them to sales, and improve low-performing brand efforts.. Brand tracking can improve your brand’s overall business intelligence by l and keeping in sync with customer mindsets leading to better growth opportunities and customer loyalty.

  • Any successful brand-tracking program will involve the following components:
  • Clearly outlining baseline metrics
  • Implementing data collection at strategic points in the buyer’s journey
  • Analyze brand metrics
  • Optimize brand strategy
  • and repeat

What are brand-tracking studies?

Brand tracking studies try to examine and provide insights on the consumer impact and business impact of brand campaigns. Business impact brand tracking studies can also take into account financially-driven metrics to help ascertain the ROI of campaigns. These can include:

  • Sales Lifts
  • New Trial/Customer Retention
  • Market Share gainsPrice Premium

On the other hand, they can also provide diagnostics that help to assess what is driving the business impact. The focus is on intentions and motivations like brand loyalty, brand perceptions, and associations. While getting this attitudinal data is a bit more tricky, brands typically employ tools such as:

  • Custom Panels
  • Survey-Based Trackers
  • Consumer Surveys
  • Brand Impact Surveys
  • Sentiment Analysis

The best brand tracking studies combine elements from both business impact and customer intent measuring the KPIs in each for a more comprehensive overview of brand health.

What to track in brand tracking studies?

Since every brand is unique, getting an accurate reading of its pulse often involves crafting customized tracking surveys. Typically, brand-tracking studies employ a combination of awareness, usage, brand attitudes, user perceptions, and customer purchase intent.

Awareness

If your battle is pitched in the minds of your consumers, you can test the strength of your brand through brand recall and recognition metrics.

When thinking about a consumer need, and the brands that could serve that need, if your brand does not come up or is not recognized on a short list, you have no chance of ever getting that purchase.
For obvious reasons, it’s better to be as closely synonymous with the need your product/ service serves than just to be recognized as a possible alternative. Great examples of brand recall can be Band-Aid, Kleenex, Coke etc. These brands have become so closely associated with the need they serve that they have replaced the words/ sentiments used to express the original need. For example, when people get injured they don’t ask for gauze, but for a Band-Aid.

Usage

Usage metrics can include frequency of usage, total spend, and product categories. These metrics are a very good indicator of consumer behavior and preferences. They can indicate a brand’s market share and overall share of the business pie as indicated by consumer spending on a brand. These directly impact the parent company’s revenues and profits.

Brand Attitudes and User Perceptions

Consumers develop brand associations through their experience with your brand and their exposure to key brand positioning messages disseminated by your various PR, advertising, and promotional programs. Tracking brand attitudes, user perceptions, and strategic questions about brand associations can help you delve deeper into the customer’s mind space. While tangible brand associations often directly relate to views about attributes and benefits related directly to your product or service; many brand associations can also cover completely non-product-related and symbolic benefits. These can include examples of products or services that tap into user sentiments on hailing from particular regions or countries.

While some associations can appear seemingly arbitrary, all product and non-product associations and closely associated attributes of price and value are incredibly important to your brand equity and consumer purchase decisions. Brand tracking studies should be customized to take these particular attributes and associations into account.

Sometimes, evolving incidents in a company’s journey can positively or negatively impact any brands associated with it. For instance, high-level leadership accused of fraud and malpractice at financial institutions or, allegations of natural resource abuse or, worker mistreatment at factories can have a long-term association with all brands associated with these companies.

Customer Purchase intent

Is your customer thinking of buying your product or switching to a viable alternative? If they are considering an alternative – why do they think it’s a better offering? Likelihood of buying a specific brand is an important brand health determinant and should be carefully tracked. However, brand tracking studies must be designed to take context into account while probing into these questions. This should include all the factors that go into making a purchase decision including reasons for the purchase, when the product is bought, channel, price, and other relevant factors.

Customize your brand tracking

As mentioned earlier, capturing brand associations that have a significant impact on brand equity is crucial to brand tracking. All tracking studies should be customized to reflect this and focus on pinpointing marketing efforts that are beneficial in strengthening those associations or the other way round.

Ultimately, it all boils down to accurately identifying key drivers behind consumer decisions. This data and inferences drawn from it can help effectively influence decisions through effective marketing strategies for brand growth and sustainability.

Mike Murphy

Chief Energizing Officer

mmurphy@BrandIQ.biz