How to conduct a brand tracking study

Are all those creative juices from your team flowing in the right direction? Is your brand getting more well-known, more popular, or more loved—or is it a combination of the three?

person running a brand tracking study

Where your brand stands today is crucial knowledge to inform tomorrow’s strategy. Yet, a lot of businesses tend to not take stock, launching campaigns left and right without creating a benchmark.

If you want to do things differently—i.e. better—you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll walk you through the essentials of running brand tracking studies.

What is a brand tracking study?

A brand tracking study is a research method used to track the perception of a particular brand over time. This type of study can be used to assess how well a brand is performing, identify any changes in perception that need to be addressed, and determine what factors might be influencing the public’s perception of the brand.

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Why are brand tracking studies so vital?

Would you want to know what people are thinking of you at all times? Personally, probably not.

But for businesses, things are a little different. You can and should ask consumers how they feel about them, because ultimately, you create a brand, product, or service for them—your target audience.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to measure things like brand awareness, brand perception and other brand health metrics. Not just once, but over time, regularly, to figure out if you’re on the right path to charming your consumers.

Brand tracking will shine a light on which actions and campaigns have contributed in a positive way to your brand health, and which ones were not such great ideas. This will serve as incredible fuel for your future decisions.

What brand health metrics should you be tracking?

Brand tracking metrics are super important to measure because they can provide insights into how customers view a company and its products, over time.

Measuring brand health can help businesses track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and identify any areas where they may need to improve their brand strategy.

Additionally, tracking brand health can help you spot any potential problems early and take corrective action. Here’s which key metrics from brand tracking studies we encourage you to track to make sure you’re on top of your overall brand health.

Brand reputation

A brand’s reputation is an important aspect to track in your market research, as it can have a big impact on whether people trust your brand enough to spend their money with you.

There are a number of factors that can influence a brand’s reputation, including the quality of the product or service, customer service, marketing and advertising efforts, and the company’s overall ethical and social responsibility.

Person carrying out online market research

Brand perception

Brand perception refers to the way your brand makes people think and feel. Much like reputation, it can be affected by a variety of factors, such as the quality of the product or service, the company’s reputation, marketing and advertising efforts, and customer service.

When tracking brand perception, it’s important to measure ALL perceptions—positive, negative and everything in between.

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is one of the most important metrics to measure in your brand tracking research. It measures how well the public is aware of a particular brand and can be used to gauge the success of marketing campaigns and other promotional activities.

Measuring brand awareness over time can help you identify any changes in perception and determine what factors might be influencing the level of awareness people have of your brand.

Brand recall

Recall is a metric used in market research to measure how often a customer remembers a brand. This can be done through surveys, where customers are asked if they remember a certain brand. This is often used to measure the effect of a marketing campaign. Bear in mind: recall is not the same as brand recognition. Learn more about the difference between recall and recognition.

Brand equity

Brand equity measures the value of a brand, in the context of your market and competitors.

There are four main elements that make up brand equity:

  • Brand awareness
  • Loyalty to your brand
  • Perceived quality
  • Brand association

When you bring together all of these elements, you’ll begin to understand how much of your market belongs to you and how much your brand is worth.

Pepsi's branding

Brand loyalty

Loyalty to your brand is a key measure of brand health, as it indicates how likely customers are to stick with a particular brand, which is especially important if you’re trying to increase your customer lifetime value (CLV).

There are a number of factors that can influence loyalty, including the quality of your product or service, your brand’s reputation, marketing and advertising efforts, and customer service.

Branding linkage

Would you be able to tell which advertisement is from our business? What about if we remove any logos or slogans in order for the audience?

Branding linkage = Brand association after a ‘non-branded’ content effort

If a viewer can associate an unbranded marketing effort from your business as being connected to your business, you’re on the right track. If not, you need to reconsider some creative decisions.

Branded searches

Branded searches are when a person searches for a specific product or company on the internet. They are usually looking for information about the company, such as the address or phone number, or they are looking to buy a product from the company. Branded searches can also be used to track how well a company is doing online. For instance, people googling ‘Nike running shoes’ shows their branding success: they’re not simply looking for ‘running shoes’.

NPS (Net Promoter Score)

The net promoter score (NPS) is a metric used to measure customer loyalty and is calculated by asking customers how likely they are to recommend a brand to others. Your NPS number is based on the answer to the question “how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Respondents then give their answer on a range from 1 to 10. It’s a classic when it comes to brand tracking.

Brand favorability

A brand’s favorability is a measure of whether people favor your brand over another or not. Bear in mind: this doesn’t necessarily show whether they love you. They might favor your brand over your arch enemy—but it’s still possible they don’t like either of you. Combine it with purchase intent and market share to learn more.

Want to know more about brand health metrics before starting your brand tracking survey? Here are the 14 most important brand health metrics!

Why are these brand health metrics so important?

Businesses traditionally look at metrics such as customer retention, sales, profit and market share. But combining these numbers over time with the knowledge you gather from your brand tracking study, will show you what has affected those retention, sales and profit numbers.

Different types of brand tracking studies

We have some bad news—you can’t just throw a few metrics in the blender and call it a brand tracking survey. Your brand tracking studies should inform the long-term brand strategy you’ve laid out for your business. Here are some examples of brand tracking studies.

Tracking marketing efforts and campaign effectiveness

The metrics you’ll be using: brand awareness/perception/reputation (depending on the goal of the campaign), brand linking, branded searches.

Next time you launch a big advertising campaign, set up a brand tracking study alongside it. You’ll be measuring right before the campaign, right after and an X amount of months after the campaign to see its long-term impact on your brand. Depending on the goal of the campaign, you can focus on awareness, perception, or reputation.

Tracking customer satisfaction/feedback

The metrics you’ll be using: brand’s loyalty, brand favorability, brand reputation.

How is the relationship with your current customers evolving over time? How can you increase customer loyalty, and turn existing customers into advocates for organic brand growth? This is what you’ll be measuring if you focus on this type of brand tracking study. You can track changes in the relationship, and see what effect price changes, new products, new competing brands and other events in your product category have.

Tracking your brand’s health among non-customers

The metrics you’ll be using: brand awareness, branded searches, brand perception.

It’s crucial to also keep an eye on people who aren’t your customers—yet… Are they becoming at least more aware of your brand? What misconceptions do they have about you? What’s your general reputation? But make sure you balance your target audiences right: there’s no use in collecting data from people who will never be your customers; however don’t forget about the influence non-customers might have over the purchasing decisions your actual customers might make.

Tracking your brand amongst (possible) employees

The metrics you’ll be using: brand awareness, brand perception and brand reputation

It’s not just potential customers you want to impress—it’s future employees, too. A great way to keep your hiring process sharp is by infusing it with a brand tracking study that revolves around your reputation amongst jobseekers.

Tracking your brand alongside other brands

The metrics you’ll be using: brand awareness, NPS, branding linkage

Market research is incredibly versatile, so find something that fits your goals! If you want to get more insights in how you’re performing in your target market, track brand health against competition. You can check what new competitors, consumer behavior and other unexpected events do to performance metrics such as business growth, market penetration and brand usage.

How to conduct a brand tracking study in 7 steps

Now you’ve seen that there are different types of brand tracking studies, you understand that there is not just one road that leads there. But in general, there are some steps you simply can’t miss if you want to make your brand tracking study the success it deserves to be.

Step 1: Set a goal and corresponding metrics

Choosing the right metrics for your brand tracking study can be tricky. You want to make sure you’re measuring the things that are important to your business, but you also need to make sure they’re relevant to your customers.

Follow your strategy: what are you focusing on in the next 5 years? Is it building stronger relationships with current customers? Gathering more customers? Let this lead the way to choosing the right metrics.

Step 2: Select an audience

When selecting your target audience for a brand tracking study, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Trying to measure the awareness and perception of a brand among the general public is a daunting task, and you’ll likely get more useful information by narrowing down your focus.

Will you be focusing on current customers who’ve been with you for a while? New customers? Or do you want to learn the purchase intent for the ones whose heart you have yet to conquer? Make sure it makes sense with the metrics you choose.

Step 3: Ask the right questions

You’re in luck! We’ve written several guides about which survey questions you can ask for certain metrics. We’ll just leave them here:

Step 4: Collect that data!

When it comes to data collection for your brand tracking study, there are a few different ways to go about it. The most common way is through surveys, but you can also look at other numbers such as customer retention rates, profit and loss statements, and social media analytics. No matter how you collect the data, make sure they match periods and audiences.

Track your brand with Attest

Set up a regular brand tracker to see how your awareness and perception are changing over time—and spot trends before they become an issue!

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Step 5: Analyze, analyze, analyze

Once you’ve gathered all your data, it’s time to start analyzing it. This is where you’ll see what trends are emerging with your brand—the good, the bad and the neutral.

Are people becoming more aware of your brand? What do they think of your products? How does customer satisfaction change over time?

There are a million questions you can get answered in the data you get, but make sure to stay focused on the goal of your research.

Step 6: And then… Action!

Once you’ve gathered all your data, it’s time to start acting on it. Which campaigns do more harm than good? What is attracting customers to your competitors? How can you become more proactive to keep them on board?

Step 7: Repeat regularly

This is where the tracking part comes in. Brand tracking isn’t something you should do once and forget thereafter. How often you will conduct these studies depends on the length of them. You can also choose to run smaller surveys more often that focus on specific parts of your larger brand tracking study.

Bonus step: Create context with competitors

With this step you’re going the extra mile in your brand tracking study. Let’s say your NPS is a big part of your brand tracking study, because your long-term goal is to grow your brand from the inside out, gathering more customers organically.

A handy trick to give more context in your study, is to not only measure your own metrics, but compare yourself to a competitor. So, if you ask respondents for your own NPS, also ask about another brand. This will put the number in perspective and will guide your decisions a whole lot better.

Brand tracking made easy with Attest

Alright, what else do you need for your first brand tracking study? Is it templates? Help from an expert researcher? More resources for the true DIYers?

We’ve got it all! Attest is here for all levels of brand trackers. We’ve created some handy templates that will have your online survey up and running in no time. Have a look and play around with it to make it yours!

If you are keen to get started but want to ask an expert for their opinion, let’s chat. All our users get access to brand tracking researchers who have done this rodeo over and over, and are eager to put their latest insights to use in your survey.

The Experts’ Guide to Brand Tracking

How to look at the impact of things like audience reach, panel diversity, and survey design to help you decide whether your current brand tracker is up to scratch.

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Sam Killip

VP Customer Success 

Sam joined Attest in 2019 and leads the Customer Research Team. Sam and her team support brands through their market research journey, helping them carry out effective research and uncover insights to unlock new areas for growth.

See all articles by Sam