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How to track your brand health

How healthy is your brand? In truth, this isn’t an easy question to answer, because there are many different indicators of brand performance. Brand positioning, brand awareness, brand reputation and more: you’ll need to gather a lot of different data points to measure the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, as well as its overall performance. The good news? We have a solution for that. Our Brand Tracker can monitor all of these metrics and more, tracking changes in your brand health over time, and alerting you to any drops in performance. But, to get the most out of this feature, read on to learn more about the kinds of measures of brand health you should be tracking. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, brand positioning is one of the most crucial measures of brand health. That’s because today’s consumers are overwhelmed with choice. Regardless of the industry you’re competing in, in order to drive sales, you’ll need to fend off all of the other rivals vying for the attention of your target audience. To help customers to find your brand, you’ll need to position yourself appropriately. Let’s take a look at how.

Momentive, the maker of SurveyMonkey, offers solutions to help you elevate your brand by understanding what resonated with your audience.

Brand positioning is the strategy that you’ll use to distinguish your brand from the rest of your competitors. It's a way of helping customers to discover your brand, and therefore a major source of competitive edge. In order to execute brand positioning effectively, you’ll need to consider the following aspects:

  • Brand details: Think about the last time you visited a luxury hotel. You’ll have noticed that every last detail reinforces the sense of comfort and opulence: from the soft furnishings, to the toiletries in the room, to the staff uniforms, to the type of coffee in the coffee machine. Every small detail of your brand should contribute to the overall position you’d like to hold in the minds of consumers. By taking care of the smallest details, you’ll be well placed to stand out from the pack.
  • Brand messaging: Brand messaging is the way in which you communicate your offer, or value proposition to your audience. Your value proposition is what makes you different or better compared to your competitors. Communicating that through messaging activities will help solidify your target position in your customers’ minds.
  • Brand marketing: All marketing activities and campaigns should be designed to reinforce the position you want to occupy in the market. So, if you want to occupy a position that suggests you offer better value for money than your competitors, that should be reflected in your promotions, discounts, pricing strategies and other marketing techniques.
  • Brand image: Brand image is the impression of the brand in the mind of the customers. For instance, your brand might be seen as highly innovative, cheap, high quality or great value for money.

Brand positioning helps to create an identity for your business and for the products and services that you’re offering to the market. It helps you to differentiate your products from those of competitors, which is particularly important in marketplaces that are mature, or that are saturated and which involve high or intense levels of competition. In addition, branding positioning helps you to offer added value as part of your product offerings. 

When customers purchase a branded item, they are not only purchasing the product itself (and the functionality and instrumentality that accompanies it) but they are also simultaneously purchasing the personality and symbolism of the brand. So, brand positioning is a strong measure of the health of your brand compared to competitors, and in the eyes of the consumers.

Brand positioning can influence which brand health metrics you may want to track, especially when it comes to brand attributes, perception or reputation. For example, if you want to be seen as a high end, premium brand, it makes sense to ask customers about the degree to which they see you as quality, luxurious or high end. That way, you can get a sense of whether your efforts at positioning your brand are landing. You can do that through a customer survey—or we can do it for you.

Let's take a look at some examples of well positioned brand:

  • Tesla: A progressive, forward thinking and sustainable brand. Positioned against other competitors, especially in the vehicle market, Tesla certainly stands out as unique - and that is driving major interest.
  • Apple: One of the world’s strongest brands, but it hasn’t come easy. Through sleek design, innovative products, well targeted marketing messages, and even the high quality customer service delivered by its “Geniuses” (the name Apple gives to its customer support agents), Apple always gets its positioning as a tech leader right.
  • AirBnB: Occupies a unique position in the lodgings market. For vacationers, it offers more in the way of home comforts than traditional hotel chains, while its mid range price point puts it a position to capture a broad audience.
  • Chanel: It has cultivated an image of luxuriousness through its use of high quality materials, its eye popping price points, and its physical locations on some of the world’s fanciest streets.

A healthy brand is one that is known by consumers. So, an important aspect of the branding process involves communicating the brand to the market, and then gathering data from the market to ensure that your messages have landed. Brand awareness means capturing the extent to which individuals are aware of your brand. Ideally, over time, and through your marketing efforts, awareness of your brand will grow, which puts you in a good position to secure new customers. Let’s look at the strategies you can use to measure brand awareness.

Brand awareness can be measured using brand awareness surveys or capturing share-of-voice (SOV). Here’s more on how brand surveys can help shed more light on to what others think about your brand.

Surveys are an essential part of brand health tracking. To gather information on awareness of your brand, consider the use of different question types:

  • Open ended questions are useful for evaluating free recall of your brand. To learn about knowledge of your brand compared to others, you might ask survey respondents an open ended question like:
    • Which brands first come to mind when you think of luncheon meat?

If your brand isn’t mentioned in any respondents’ lists, you know you have work to do on building brand awareness.

  • Multiple choice questions are useful when you already have a list of competitors, and you want to learn more about awareness of your brand in comparison. A good strategy is to present survey respondents with a list of competing brands and ask them to tick the ones they’ve heard of.

Share-of-voice used to be used to describe the share of your advertising (e.g. TV, print and radio) compared to all your competitors shares. Today, the concept has evolved to include a number of different measures of awareness of your brand, such as the number of online mentions of your brand, and the amount of traffic reaching your website. Capturing share-of-voice is vital in learning about your digital presence.

For more on brand awareness, see our comprehensive guide. 

Brand consideration measures the likelihood that a consumer will buy your brand next. Since this captures their predisposition towards your brand, brand consideration is a measure of overall brand health. It also helps to predict purchasing intentions, which can help you to understand the performance of your brand in the marketplace—and even help you to forecast sales and profits. Let’s break it down.

Brand consideration essentially combines customer attitudes towards your brand, and reflects their past experiences with purchasing. If a customer has had a positive experience of your brand, or they find your messaging appealing, they are more likely to say that they’ll consider buying your brand next. That’s why brand consideration drives purchasing intent.

Purchase intent is simply the intention of customers to purchase your products or services within a specific timeframe, such as within the next 12 months. When combined with measuring brand consideration, you’ll have a very powerful measure of the health of your brand. It's also a good idea to assess purchase intention after an advertising campaign in order to evaluate its efficacy and impact on your brand. 

Don’t forget that advertising can generate curiosity and awareness of your brand without driving purchase intent, so capture and combine as many metrics as possible in order to get a true picture of brand health.

One of the biggest contributors to the success and health of your brand is how loyal your customers are. Why? According to estimates, it costs around five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. And, loyal customers are not just cheaper - they contribute in other ways to your bottom line. For instance, loyal customers tend to spend more than one-off customers. They trust you, and are willing to invest more in the spend. Buying from a trusted brand saves the customer energy and time in the purchasing decision because they are comforted by the knowledge that the brand will fulfil the purpose that it promises to do. And, loyal customers are also more likely to champion you by sharing positive experiences with others. So, loyal customers drive sales both through their own spend, and by bringing in new customers.

But what exactly is brand loyalty and how can you evaluate it? The simplest way is to ask your customers how willing they are to purchase something from you again in the future. For example, you might use a survey to ask a question like:

How likely are you to buy something from us within the next 6 months?

  • Not at all likely
  • Quite unlikely
  • Likely
  • Unlikely
  • Highly unlikely

Asking a simple question like this will give you a sense of how loyal your current customer base is, or whether you have more to do to cultivate a loyal market. This is just one example though: check this article for 5 additional metrics you can track to measure brand loyalty.

Let's take a look at some examples of health brands with loyal followings:

  • Peloton is a relative newcomer to the list of the world’s top brands but it has already managed to foster a loyal customer base. The keys to their success? First: added value. Peloton customers have the opportunity to purchase products that complement the main product, including the monthly class subscription. This enhances customer commitment over time. In addition, the brand conveys a sense of familiarity and intimacy which makes customers feel like they’re part of the Peloton family.
  • Starbucks also has very loyal customers driven by its sense of community and the familiarity of the brand. The company’s former CEO Howard Schulz, famously described Starbucks branches as “the third place,” or a location in addition to work and home where customers will feel welcome and comfortable. In addition, customers know that each and every Starbucks branch looks the same and offers a similar range of products. This sense of familiarity enables them to feel comfortable whenever they visit a Starbucks store.
  • Nike’s brand loyalty is driven by several very smart moves. Of course, they’ve invested considerable effort, money and time in building the brand. But, you don’t need to have deep pockets to build brand loyalty. Nike seeks to build not just transactional ties with their customers, but also emotional ties with them. They also attempt to cultivate a community that surrounds the brand, and expend considerable efforts in developing their relationship with that community and in understanding it.

Some customers love Pepsi while others are loyal to Coca Cola. When a market is made up of multiple strong brands, how do customers choose between them? The answer is in brand attributes. Brand attributes are a bundle of features that characterize your products or services, and which shape the way consumers perceive and think about those products or services. Your brand attributes should be made visible to your target audience through your advertising, pricing strategies and other marketing activities. Customers will have a preferred set of brand attributes in their mind, and will make their choice on the basis of the brands that they perceive offer those attributes.

Some examples of brand attributes are:

  • All-Natural. Certain categories of clothing, lifestyle products, foods and cleaning products emphasize that they are made of organic or natural ingredients, which appeals to segments of customers specifically looking for this
  • Sugar-Free. Some food and drinks brands, like Coca Cola, have both sugary and sugar free options so that they can capture customer segments with both sets of preferences.
  • Low-Sodium. Similarly, some grocery store brands offer low sodium options for people who are watching their salt intake for health reasons.
  • Eco. There has been a huge increase in sustainable and green brands in recent years, as customers seek out more sustainable solutions.

Learn everything there is to know about brand attributes.

Another key dimension of overall brand health is the reputation of your brand. What we mean is: how is your brand perceived by your customers and the public more generally? Brand reputation can be negative, positive or somewhere in between. However, once you’ve established a baseline of your brand reputation, you’ll need to continually monitor it for changes. Read on to find out why.

The first point to note about brand reputation is that it has an enormous influence on your bottom line. Businesses that have a strong, positive brand reputation will be able to engender loyal customers and attract new ones. Businesses that have poor reputations (and that fail to try to take swift, corrective action), are essentially on the precipice of failure. Another key point is that brand reputation can shift dramatically. 

Take the example of Volkswagen, for instance. After spending years (and millions of dollars) in rebuilding their reputation following the 2-15 emissions scandal, the company saw its reputation take another turn for the worse after an April’s Fool prank about renaming the company to Voltswagen (to promote a new electric vehicle) fell flat. So it's important to continually track your brand reputation to alert you to any changes in real time: and we can help. 

Tracking brand reputation is vital, but how do you do it? Some strategies that you should consider for measuring brand reputation include:

Tracking social media sites

Monitoring social media platforms will help you to find out who is talking about your brand and what they’re saying. And, combined with sentiment analysis, which evaluates whether conversations about your brand are positive or negative, you’ll have a strong insight into your digital reputation. We have some tips here on platforms you can use for monitoring social media channels.

Getting online reviews

Customers love reviewing their experiences with brands, and in the digital age, there are plenty of opportunities for them to do so. Make it a habit to check review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, or the sites that are relevant for your industry to see what people are saying about you.

Conducting surveys

Regularly surveying your customer base can alert you to changes in your reputation, so that you can act swiftly and accordingly. And don’t forget that reputation is also relative. Not only do you want to know if you have a positive reputation, but you also want to know how it compares to those of competitors. We recommend using SurveyMonkey Benchmarks to see how your reputation stacks up against others in your industry.

Brand perception is the way that customers understand your brand, as communicated through your marketing materials and branding activities, and as experienced by the customer through their purchase, consumption and use of your products and services. Oftentimes, companies are surprised that the image that they attempt to convey to customers is not the same as the way that they are perceived by customers. That’s why it's important to monitor perceptions of your brand through the eyes of your customers.

Don’t confuse brand perception and brand reputation: they may sound similar to each other, but they’re capturing different aspects of your brand health, which is why it's important to measure both. Brand reputation is about whether the market perceives your brand to have a positive or a negative character. Brand perception on the other hand, is a much broader concept that captures what your brand represents in the eyes of the consumer, including the brand vision, the culture, the brand personality and the brand image.

To measure brand perception, you have a few options including surveys, Google alerts and social media monitoring.

Brand perception surveys are a crucial tool in your brand health tracking toolkit. That’s because the very best way to understand how your brand is being perceived in the minds of your customers is to ask them directly. 

This free, easy to use tool is immensely powerful in tracking perceptions of your brand. Simply add your brand name into Google Alerts search tool, and set up a tracker. You’ll get a notification every time your brand is mentioned online.

Above, we’ve talked about the importance of monitoring social media chat for measuring brand reputation, and the same applies for brand perceptions. Brand health is multidimensional and there’s a lot to measure.

Need help? Our Brand Tracker can help you monitor brand health in real time, and when combined with our benchmarking tool, you’ll soon know where your brand health stands compared to industry competitors.