Building and maintaining a healthy brand is critical to organizational health. B2B brands with strong brand identities outperform their competitors by 73%, according to McKinsey & Co. A highly regarded brand can give organizations an advantage when launching new products or services, setting pricing, and even recruiting new employees—making it crucial for organizations to keep up on their overall brand health.
Brand health is impacted by a variety of factors, including ever-changing technology customers can use to discover, engage, and comment on an organization’s brand. The key to maintaining a successful and healthy brand is to engage in ongoing brand tracking for key brand metrics. Regular brand tracking enables companies to keep a pulse on overall brand health, spot and course correct any brand health issues early, gauge the impact of key product launches and company events, and measure the ROI of marketing initiatives.
While brand tracking is extremely valuable to protecting brand health, it is important that companies approach brand tracking with an understanding of key goals before making the investment to begin brand tracking. To ensure you’re prepared, here are five critical elements to understand before beginning brand tracking.
- Understand your business goals. Before you move forward with brand tracking, you should first have a sense of the key business goals that your brand health can inflect. These organization-wide goals can help you determine where to focus your brand tracking efforts and to contextualize your findings after completing brand tracking. For example, a top business priority for your organization may be strengthening your market impact; by leveraging a strong brand, your organization is more likely to be positively recognized in the market and stand out from your competitors. Other common organizational goals to leverage include promoting new products or services, increasing new or recurring sales, and enhancing your public image or profile.
- Assign KPIs and set SMART goals. Once you’ve aligned key business goals with brand tracking, the next step is to define the metrics that will help you measure and track your progress, and to set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, making them particularly useful for measuring key points in an ongoing brand lifecycle.Your KPIs (key performance indicators) should map to your organizational goals. For example, if your goal is to raise awareness among a specific age demographic, a key KPI could be social media reach. Using the SMART framework, your KPI could include these objectives:
- Specific: Increase posting frequency on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram from four times a day to eight times a day.
- Measurable: Secure a 10% increase in engagement via likes, shares, followers, etc.
- Attainable: A 10% increase in engagement is feasible as traffic has been trending up due to the popularity of recent product releases.
- Relevant: This goal increases brand and product awareness.
- Time-Bound: Achieve this goal by the end of the quarter.
- Identify your audience. Once you have identified key organizational goals and KPIs, the next step is to identify which audience(s) you would like to target in your brand tracking surveys. Some organizations choose to survey a general population sample to gauge overall brand awareness and trends. Others want to measure specific trend points with a small customer segment—either users of a particular product, members of a certain demographic, or those living in a certain geographic location. For example, if your organizational goal is to increase sales of a specific product with a younger audience, you may narrow your audience to 18-25-year-old consumers.
- Determine key questions to ask. Just as important as targeting the right audience, organizations should also define the key questions they would like to ask consumers when using surveys in brand tracking. The wording of survey questions is particularly important as a slight update in word or phrase could skew the results. For example, changing the question, “Do you prefer our product?” to “Do you intend to purchase our product?” will corrupt the survey findings—customers may prefer the product but not intend to purchase it or vice versa. If your organizational goal is to raise brand awareness, key questions to include would assess aided awareness (measuring if the brand name is top-of-mind for customers) and unaided awareness (measuring if your advertising is reaching buyers). A furniture store with this goal might ask an unaided, open-ended question such as, “Which furniture stores are you familiar with?”; its next aided question can then list furniture brands and ask which of the following is familiar to the customer.
- Assess your competitor pool. Your brand does not exist in a vacuum—customers view your brand in the context of the market overall. Along with tracking KPIs for your organization, you should also track them in comparison to your key competitors. Before you begin brand tracking, have a solid list of key competitors for the specific audience you are surveying to track trends for them as well. For example, an organization that sells medical devices to hospitals and wishes to improve its brand preference may monitor competitors in the biotechnology space to assess which of these brands are most preferred by hospital administrators—giving the organization the opportunity to adjust in order to make their products more appealing.