When you start off your business there are so many things to do, it’s easy to forget how important brand management is. But, as we know, consumer perception of your brand can make all the difference and can lead you to success or failure. It’s the means through which you relate to your potential customers and how you set yourself apart from competitors.
This makes it vital for you to not only develop a memorable brand identity, which sets positive consumer expectation, but also to keep track of how its perception changes with market fluctuations. It’s actually more difficult to maintain a strong brand with a good reputation than to develop one. One essential tool you have at your disposal is brand tracking.
What is Brand Tracking?
Brand tracking refers to the process of measuring the effects brand building campaigns have on sales and conversions. Marketing campaigns nowadays are becoming increasingly focused on highlighting unique brand qualities and values rather than just the products.
The objective of these campaigns is to build a relationship between the brand and its core demographic and create association with certain values and ideals. This has proven to be a much more effective strategy. Highly regarded brands tend to be more resilient to competition and have more loyal customers, willing to spend more on their products since they perceive these brands as being more trustworthy.
The success of the campaign is assessed through brand tracking studies which mostly focus on financial metrics to determine the ROI of each initiative. Some of these metrics are sales/profit, market share, customer retention and price premium.
By creating a brand tracking program, metrics like brand perception, brand loyalty and brand associations can be examined and you can see how your campaigns change customer intentions. The necessary data is collected through a variety of methods which include:
- Brand Impact Surveys
- Consumer Research Surveys
- Sentiment Analysis
- Consumer Panels
The most effective brand tracking campaigns take a holistic approach by combining business and consumer focused metrics. This way you can measure how your brand performs from the viewpoint of both customers, as well as suppliers, stakeholders and potential industry collaborators. Collecting and analyzing this data at regular intervals allows you to detect and predict even subtle changes in the marketplace and adjust your business and advertising strategies.
Benefits of Brand Tracking
The most important benefit of tracking the results of your brand building campaigns is that it allows you to develop a brand message that customers respond to on an emotional level which, in turn, increases their loyalty as the market fluctuates. You have something that positively differentiates you from competitors with similar products that may be able to offer them at lower prices. This decreases churn rates as your customer base prefers spending more on a brand that they trust and identify with. Further down the line, it also makes it easier to introduce new products.
Consumer panels, one of the methods of brand tracking, allows you to get direct feedback on what customers like or dislike about your product and how they perceived their purchase experience. This feedback informs your future business decisions and helps you develop similar products with improved features.
Surveys are also a a great way to gain insight into how to better market your products and services to consumers from another location. You find out what their interests are, what features they value most, their purchase behavior and what differences to take into account when advertising to this particular demographic sector.
In addition to enhancing customer experience, conducting surveys will give you a sense of where your company and brand stand among the local competitors and what strategies to use to set yourself apart in a positive way.
Steps to Tracking Your Brand
As with any other study you will first need to determine the goal of your brand tracking initiative. For example you want to find out what values consumers associate with your brand and how they position your brand among competitors in terms of trustworthiness.
Next step is to establish the target demographic you want to gain insight into. This could be based on location, age, gender, level of income. You generally want to choose the customer base most likely to be interested in your products or you might focus on a segment that your competitors have managed to reach through marketing strategies, but so for your endeavors have not had similarly favourable results. Then you’ll want to select a few brands you want to be measured against.
After the goals, demographic segment and comparison brands are established you will need to think about what research methods are most suitable. Are surveys enough to obtain all the relevant metrics or will you need to organize consumer panels? Generally, brand tracking studies require a sequence of different methods to produce the most applicable results.
Analyzing the results is the most important step of the process. The data you’ve compiled will be used to generate key metrics such as:
- Brand Awareness – This shows how easily consumers from your target segment can recognize your brand aided or unaided. Unaided means they don’t need a prompt like a list of brands they can choose from.
- Brand Associations – This is a good way to find out if the way you want your brand to be seen matches with how consumers actually perceive it. Results are based on questions regarding how customers experienced interactions with your brand, what makes your brand unique, what are the positives and what are the negatives.
- Brand Usage – This metric shows how often consumers buy products or services from your brand and whether they buy more frequently from competitors.
- Purchase Intent – This determines how interested consumers are in buying products or services similar to yours and how inclined they are to choosing your brand.
- Brand Loyalty – It’s measured in relation to purchase intent and shows how likely consumers are to make purchases from your brand in the future. It’s a strong indication of how strong your brand is.
Interpreting this data will point out what areas you need to focus on and how to optimize your strategies to ensure success. As you make adjustments you keep track of your progress to find out what campaigns had the greatest impact.