No two brands are alike. Even those that are often grouped together — McDonald’s and Burger King, Nike and Adidas, Coke and Pepsi. Despite their similarities, they all have different identities and brand strategies — and their relationships with consumers can look and feel different, too.
So it follows that when tracking a brand’s performance, the importance of each KPI will differ from brand to brand. One vital factor that can influence which KPIs you’ll want to focus on is the size of your brand.
This is certainly true for brand awareness.
Though it’s still important for highly developed, mainstream brands to track, this KPI is most crucial for small or growing brands that are still trying to gain recognition. Indeed, before they can run, brands must learn to walk — so while you might be itching to find out whether a target audience prefers your offering over the competition, this data is only useful once your awareness has reached a certain level.
So in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at brand awareness and break down how this data can be used and implemented by brands of different sizes — from those that are just starting out to household names with awareness levels above 70%.
How Should Startups and Small Brands Measure Brand Awareness?
For startups and small brands that are still in their infancy, brand awareness is one of the most important KPIs that brand tracking allows you to measure. Simply put, it allows you to gauge how effective your branding campaigns are in establishing your brand with selected targeted audiences.
The most important point to note here is that your brand awareness numbers will start off very low and your efforts might only increase them in exceptionally small increments at first.
Interpreting the data at this stage requires another important consideration — margin of error. For more established brands, it’s acceptable for this to range between +1 - 3% while still accurately giving insights into their brand’s health. However, for brands with low awareness, it’s imperative to survey a greater number of consumers in order to reduce the margin of error to a level that enables tracking of smaller changes in the data to provide more reliable insights.
While all these figures may seem low at first, remember that they represent huge numbers of people who can now identify and recognize your brand. For example, if 10% of respondents are aware of your brand in the United States, in real numbers that’s nearly 33 million people. A real-life jump (i.e one that is validated by the confidence levels of the data) of just 0.1% represents more than 300,000 new consumers now aware of your brand.
With Latana’s brand tracking software, you can focus on the levels of awareness within your target audiences, rather than simply looking across the general population — and for startups and small brands, this is vital. Before finding mainstream success, the growth of your brand will be fueled by smaller segments that have a natural predisposition to your product offering.
For a new app or gadget, this might be early tech adopters, or for a new dating service this might be singles of a certain age — while a new alcoholic beverage brand might want to court young people living in cities.
Finding valuable groups that can help fuel your growth is a vital step in building your brand from the ground up and, with Latana, you can track brand awareness within each target segment to see which ones are responding positively to your branding campaigns. With these groups, you should expect to see a greater share of awareness of your brand compared to the general population — and your awareness campaigns should result in greater shifts, too.
How Should Growing Brands Measure Brand Awareness?
Once your brand begins to grow, brand awareness will become even more important — as this is the primary KPI for tracking the progress of your growth.
Again, when it comes to the general population, don’t expect huge shifts in awareness in a short space of time. However, if your goal is to move beyond the initial early adopters of your product and reach new audiences, looking at your awareness within the general population is a great way of gauging how close you are to mainstream appeal.
But for many growing brands, expansion will mean new markets and new audiences — so, once again, you’ll be focusing on target segments and measuring brand awareness to track whether your message is cutting through the noise and resonating with them.
City-level brand tracking is an important tool for those looking to break into new markets and expand by running a targeted launch in strategically important cities or regions. For example, if you want to break into the United Kingdom, a targeted approach in London may be just as effective as targeting the whole nation. City-level brand tracking then gives you the tools to track how these campaigns are impacting awareness levels.
Not only can you measure your brand awareness within a single urban area, but you can focus on target groups across a single city, allowing you to measure your hyper-focused campaigns aimed at influential urbanites.
Of course, as your brand grows, other KPIs will begin to shed more light on the value of that growth and offer insights into the quality of the relationships you’ve built with audiences.
One vital KPI that works in lockstep with brand awareness is brand understanding. Essentially, this measures how many consumers correctly identify the industry or category that your brand operates in — if this KPI is in sync with your brand awareness, you can feel confident that your branding campaigns are not only getting your name out there but also accurately presenting who you are and what you do.
However, if your brand understanding lags behind your brand awareness, then something isn’t working — take another look at your identity, your communication, and your creatives and make sure you’re being clear about exactly what your product or service is.
Beyond that, your focus will eventually shift from awareness to KPIs like consideration — this is whether consumers consider the brand when making purchasing decisions — and preference — whether they actively choose your brand over the competition. These will give a clearer picture of the form your brand’s relationship with consumers has taken and provide useful guidance on improving performance further down the sales funnel.
How Should Leading Brands Measure Brand Awareness?
When a brand reaches a certain size, awareness becomes a foregone conclusion. Think about Coca-Cola — consumers aren’t just going to forget that it exists en-masse overnight. So while brand awareness isn’t as important for big brands, there are still some contexts where measuring it is important.
First and foremost, this KPI is useful when mainstream brands are breaking into or expanding their operations in new markets. An American restaurant chain, such as Arby’s or Little Caesar’s, might have widespread recognition in the USA but only limited awareness in the United Kingdom. If these brands decided to expand operations into that market, then brand awareness would become an important KPI in tracking their progress and providing insight into the performance of their campaigns.
Another way that this KPI is useful to large brands is its ability to give some clue as to a brand’s relevance — especially with younger age cohorts who are entering the valuable 18 - 24 demographic. Indeed, for a brand to remain well-known, it needs to routinely introduce itself and its offering to the youngest tranche of consumers — otherwise, over time it will lose its high levels of awareness.
However, for those biggest brands, this KPI is unlikely to experience large shifts in either direction once it has reached levels higher than 70%. Instead, these types of brands will be focusing on consideration, preference, and brand associations, which allow them to track how their core brand values resonate with audiences.
Tracking your brand’s health is a vital practice for businesses of all sizes, allowing you to establish a baseline of growth for your brand, uncover target audiences and track their reaction to your campaigns, and understand how your brand fits into the marketplace in relation to your competitors.
When it comes to brand tracking, different KPIs will give you insight into the different aspects of your brand’s health — and for different brands, each KPI will have its own importance depending on your size, business model, and target audiences.
Though it might be tempting to jump straight into how your brand is being perceived and whether it is preferred over the competition, for many small brands these KPIs can actually be damaging to your brand health tracking insights — if few consumers have heard of you, then tracking anything deeper will only provide small and unreliable data points that simply can’t be trusted as a foundation for strategic decisions.
Ultimately, brand awareness is a measure of all the consumers your brand has resonated with and is, therefore, a great metric to chart your growth. But, eventually, you’ll need to dig deeper and look into the quality of those relationships and focus on other KPIs in order to strengthen the bonds between consumers and your brand.