Every company knows how their sales are going, and most marketers can tell you how their ad campaigns are performing, right down to the penny in cost-per-clicks (CPCs) and return on investment (ROI). But when it comes to specifics on brand awareness, the details often become blurry and the conversations start to become rather vague.
Because building brand awareness takes both time and money, you might think that this is something you could track and measure so you can gauge the costs and determine which strategies and tactics have been working best — and you would be right.
Brand awareness is something you can measure, and the tools you need are already in your digital toolbox.
What Is Brand Awareness?
Before you can measure something, you need to understand it. Brand awareness as a general concept is simply your target audience’s familiarity with your brand and their ability to recognize it. More specifically, it represents how aware people are of your brand name, the products you offer and what distinguishes your brand from the competition.
Just Knowing Your Name Isn’t Enough
Being aware of your name is a great start, but it’s hardly going to drive sales by itself. Back in 1996, Nissan ran a famous brand awareness campaign, featuring Ken and Barbie look-alike dolls and a toy car, complete with a Van Halen soundtrack, at a production cost of about $200 million. Everyone loved the ad and it even won some awards, but sales plummeted.
The problem? The toy car didn’t resemble anything Nissan had in its dealerships. The closest match to the toy had been discontinued. The company sold thousands of T-shirts and toys based on the ad, but car sales declined.
This is a painful reminder that brand awareness needs to include your products and what distinguishes you from your competition. And, just as importantly, awareness needs to come from your target audience. If your market is car-driving adults, being popular with children won’t do much for your sales.
How to Measure Brand Awareness
In the past, companies would measure brand awareness with direct surveys. You would hire a team of telemarketers, or send a team out onto the streets, to ask people which brands they recognized. That’s not really necessary today. Here are five ways you can easily measure brand awareness today:
Use Online Surveys
Online surveys, using services like SurveyMonkey or Typeform, are easy to set up and inexpensive to use. You can upload a survey to your website or integrate it into your emails with an email service provider. For best results, target warm leads, like current customers or newsletter subscribers.
Use short, multiple-choice questions, asking which brands they recognize in your market and which features they associate with your brand. Include a space for them to write down any thoughts they have to share. One of the benefits of these surveys is, of course, that they double as brand awareness campaigns.
Use Google Trends
If you’ve ever used Google Trends to explore niche markets, then you already know how powerful this free tool can be. Try entering your own brand in Google Trends to see the rate at which people have been looking for your company in the past month. If it’s been trending upward, that’s great. But even if you have a new company and it’s at a baseline of zero right now, don’t worry. Take a screenshot and then come back in six months.
You can also use Google Trends to compare how your brand is faring compared to a competitor. After entering your own brand, enter a competitor in the “Compare” field. If you’re planning on world domination, compare your brand to Nike or Coke, just for fun — and take another screenshot for posterity.
It is important to note that Google Trends won’t give you solid numbers on the number of people that searched your brand. We’d recommend supplementing trend data with impressions and keyword analytics pulled from Google Search Console and other SEO tools.
Track Social Media Engagement and Impressions
Facebook likes, Twitter followers and mentions can be powerful indicators of brand awareness. Only legitimate interactions count. If you bought social media followers, for example, or if you used any other tricks to artificially boost your numbers, these shouldn’t be included.
Organic interactions certainly count, as do interactions that came from brand awareness-focused ads or social media influencers. If a Facebook ad goes viral, resulting in thousands of shares and new page likes, or if your social media following grew by 500 percent after a partnership with a social media influencer, these are definitely great indicators of a booming brand awareness.
Keep track of when you share social media content and compare the results. You’re likely to get better traction — and greater brand awareness — from your target audience on specific days and times.
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerhouse of invaluable data. Not only does it track page clicks and bounce rates, it also gives you insights into what people think of your brand by telling you what they’ve been looking for to find you.
To see this for yourself, log in to Google Analytics, click on the “Traffic Sources” tab and then click “Keywords.” You’ll see a list of the top searches visitors typed into Google that led them to your website. Specifically, this gives you a strong indication of whether or not visitors understand the products associated with your brand and what differentiates you from your competitors.
If people find the Nike website by searching for “sneakers” or “golf balls,” that’s not really a strong indicator of brand awareness, compared to “Nike sneakers” or simply, “Nike.”
Run Brand Awareness Campaigns
A brand awareness campaign is an ideal way to increase brand visibility. And when you run that campaign in a digital space, it’s a perfect tool for measuring that brand awareness. Your ad’s cost-per-click, its number of shares, its number of comments and, in the case of video ads, the number of video playthroughs it gets, are all indicators of how well your brand is doing with your target audience.
Maintaining Your Brand’s Presence
When you’re working on brand awareness for your company, keep the long game in mind. Too many companies blitz the market with a sudden surge in ads and then seem to check “brand awareness” off their to-do lists and move on.
A sudden surge in website visits from a viral video can be very exciting, but much like scoring a touchdown in the first play of the game, each gain should be something you build on with subsequent plays. The talented consultants at Hawke Media have a tremendous amount of experience helping new companies rise from obscurity to dominate their markets, as well as helping other established leaders to build on their presence.
If you want to know where your budget would best be spent in building your brand and the best ways to measure it for your specific market, just ask for a free consultation.
Wall Street Journal: Critics Loved Bizarre Ads; Meanwhile, Sales Skidded
Google: Google Trends
Hawke Media: Case Studies