Brand performance, or rather proving brand performance, is one of the most elusive parts of our creed. Every brand and marketing manager knows that it is their job to get the word out there about their brand and to make people not just talk, but also shop your product. However, knowing how well you are doing this can be difficult to pinpoint.
But the answer hides in plain sight. You already know (and maybe even used) the metrics you need to measure brand performance. Also, you are probably familiar with the tracking tools you can use to capture them. So brand performance isn’t a "white whale". It’s a regular blue one that you can spot easily if you gear up for the trip.
In this post, we first explain what is brand performance is in concrete terms and then explain the how-to part so you can easily prove your performance to your boss. Let’s dig in.
What is Brand Performance?
Brand performance reflects the brand’s desirability and profitability. It’s the grand sum of actions you pursue to ensure high brand awareness, positive brand perception, and strong brand recall among target audiences — that will all eventually lead to more sales.
But given that both “brand” and “perception” are lofty non-quant concepts, some marketers find the brand performance metric confusing.
Can you really measure your brand performance?
Yes, if you peg down the “perception” part to proxy metrics. The telling metrics to measure brand performance are:
Top-of-mind (TOM), aided, and unaided brand awareness
Brand sentiment including overall brand perception
Brand consideration and purchase intent
Sales volume and sales value
Customer lifetime value and brand loyalty
In this post, we’ll show you how to measure brand performance using the above KPIs and several handy tools!
But before going into “how”, let’s dwell a moment on “why”. To ensure accurate tracking (and insights!), you need to align your measurement with your marketing goals.
Why Measuring Brand Performance is Important
Why do we pick one brand over another from the shelf? What prompts us to pay 2X to 10X more for the same types of products?
As consumers, we are driven by both rational and irrational factors. The latter is strongly tied with emotions.
Deloitte found that 44% of customers would make a recommendation, based on emotional criteria — the feelings a brand elicits such as “trust”, “happiness”, “joy”, or “gratitude”. Emotions also influence the depth of brand loyalty and advocacy. Without understanding how your target audiences feel about your brand and what drives their perception, marketers cannot forge those connections.
Secondly, digital marketing and digital sales have also increased the playing field for brand competition. Today, smaller brands can easily reach global audiences without having a local retail footprint, robust distribution network, or budgets for international TV or print ads. Social media has given a platform for brands to proactively reach granular audience segments and effectively capitalize on the viral “network effect” to organically scale their reach.
The Ordinary, once a niche DTC brand, became a direct competitor to giants such as L’Oreal and Estee Lauder thanks to a strategic online community building. The cosmetics company invested in developing a strong rapport with the target audiences on social media. They accumulated major brand trust, crucial in the cosmetics industry, one positive customer review at a time.
Up till the point when peer-to-peer recommendations started working for them. The brand “exploded” on skincare sub-forums on Reddit and became the go-to non-sponsored recommendation among consumer trusted beauty bloggers and beauty editors alike.
(The Ordinary is ubiquitously popular on the SkincareAddition subreddit)
Can you gain similar brand performance results without effective tracking? Unlikely.
Finally, brand performance numbers can provide a fuller picture of your end-to-end brand experience and help diagnose other issues, saliently undermining your success. Given that even modest improvements in customer experience (CX) performance can drive a 34-percentage-point increase in future purchase intentions in almost 20 industries, you’d probably want to know about those issues too.
How to Measure Brand Performance in 4 Steps
1. Start with Measuring Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is the cornerstone metric. It tells if people even know your brand or can recall it with a quick prompt.
But can you measure brand awareness? Absolutely, with the right tools and metrics. First, determine your KPIs. To estimate brand performance, you’ll want to analyze:
Top-of-mind brand awareness: is your brand the first one customers recall in a specific product category? Diapers = Pampers.
Unaided brand awareness: can your target audience name your brand among others without any prompts? Popular sneakers = Nike, Adidas, Puma.
Aided brand awareness: is your target audience familiar with your brand at all e.g. do you know the following ride-hailing companies — Uber, Lyft, Bolt, Via, Didi?
The above metrics can already tell how well your brand performs in certain markets among different audiences. If you are already a top-of-mind option, you are doing a great job with awareness campaigns. So perhaps you should re-focus on improving brand consideration and usage.
Tools to measure brand awareness:
Google Search Console and Google Analytics: Measure search volumes for brand name, product name(s), and variations. Also, monitor total impression numbers per paid campaign.
Latana: We use machine learning to help you track brand awareness (as well as other key KPIs) across different target audience segments and channels in real-time.
AgoraPulse: Tracks brand mentions across social networks and lets you “listen in” on customer conversations around your brand and competitors.
2. Analyze Brand Sentiment and Brand Knowledge
Consumer sentiment indicates how people feel about your brand and what emotions it elicits.
Brand knowledge, in turn, denotes how familiar your customers and targets are with your brand values, strengths, product lines, and positioning. High brand knowledge means that your audiences can correctly recall and associate your brand with:
Values and USPs
Positive consumer sentiment and strong brand knowledge is a driving factor for purchasing, recommendations, and loyalty.
Tools to measure brand sentiment and brand knowledge:
Awario: Tracks brand mentions and social media conversations in your industry and helps identify and connect with top influencers and brand advocates.
SurveyMonkey: Classic customer surveys and online focus groups are still a solid way for measuring brand sentiment and knowledge.
For an even more comprehensive picture, consider monitoring these brand health metrics too.
3. Capture Purchase Intent
Strong brand awareness and positive brand reputation are strong “drivers” for purchase. Yet, most brand managers know that there’s often a big gap between “awareness” and “consideration” in the middle-of-the-funnel.
To close it you need to understand your audiences’ purchase intent and the drivers behind it. Again, both rational and irrational factors come into play ranging from copy language and emotional attachment to pricing and prestige factor.
Google calls this stage the “messy middle”:
To get better at capturing the purchase intent you need to determine:
The typical paths-to-purchase for different audience segments
Average length of the buyer’s purchase life cycle
Factors, influencing the decision-making process (exploration and evaluation)
You can obtain the data on buyers’ journeys from your Google Analytics by configuring the following reports:
Custom sequence segments: These reports showcase how visitors flip-flop between web pages and what actions they are taking. For example, you can analyze which pages a searcher who used a “branded keyword” visits during the session, which content interests them, and what prompts conversions.
Enhanced ecommerce segments: Helps locate experiential gaps in a customer’s journey and improve them. Learn where (and why) some visitors drop-off to improve conversions and sales.
Cohort Analysis: Apply segments to this report to better understand how different target audiences interact with your content and how their behaviors are related to their stage in the buyer’s journey.
You can also use Latana to track purchase intent among target audiences.
4. Assess Brand Loyalty
Performance is “good” when it drives measurable outcomes. In brand marketing, this means high brand loyalty and willingness to repurchase, plus recommend the product to others.
When your brand performs well, it does the selling for you. So are you doing enough to turn your customers into active brand advocates and peer-to-peer promoters?
Measure the following metrics to tell for sure:
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Loyal customer rate
Organic online mentions and recommendations from customers, influencers, and media are also a good proxy sign for a brand's loyalty and popularity.
Estimate How All of The Above Impact Sales
At the end of the day, your sales volume and frequency will be the strongest indicator of high brand performance.
When your customers are using your product(s) regularly, sharing positive reviews, and recommendinmng them to others, you are indeed doing a great job with brand performance. If you want to know just how good you are, you can also measure brand usage with Latana as a separate metric. Doing so will help you compare the difference between “considering” and “using” audiences.
(Example of Calm’s target audiences analysis)
Analyzing this gap is pretty important. Because if your brand awareness and purchase intent numbers are high whereas the brand usage is low, your brand may be lagging in the “experience” department.
Factors that can negatively affect brand usage (and brand loyalty) include:
Low UX and CX: Customer experience is said to trump price and product as the main brand differentiator. Poor performance in this area can undermine sales and cause significant damage to your brand.
Suboptimal pricing strategy: High awareness among a target audience but low sales volumes may indicate a miscalculation in the audience’s price sensitivity. Hence, subsequent reluctance to purchase.
Poor customer support or delivery experience: Post-sales experience impacts your brand too. Over half of consumers will not shop with a brand after one bad delivery experience. A negative interaction with the customer support team can lead to an online rant, which again — doesn’t do good for your brand performance.
If you noticed that your brand usage and sales numbers tanked, host direct surveys to investigate and rectify the root cause of the issue.
How to Measure and Prove Brand Performance to Your Boss
Need to sell someone else on the idea that measuring brand performance is important and possible? You can send them this article.
Or share brand tracking data from Latana.
Why not carry this step out on your competitors too so that you can see where you stand in comparison to them?
Now you just have to showcase your results to an audience — your boss, perhaps! This is great evidence that your campaign had an impact on your targeted audience. You can also use this to discover a completely new target audience by segmenting the data.