A strong brand helps organizations boost revenue, capitalize on market opportunities, and compete with an increasing number of players across an expanding number of platforms. With a solid brand presence, organizations gain longevity and recognition, building a well-regarded reputation among customers and competitors.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of your brand health through regular assessment is key to maintaining a thriving brand. To effectively measure how their brands are performing, organizations can select from two primary options: a one-time brand study or ongoing brand tracking. A one-time brand assessment typically involves an evaluation of brand strength and perception at a single point in time, while brand tracking assesses various standard indicators of brand health regularly, such as twice a year, and compares those results longitudinally.
Both of these approaches have core benefits. One-time brand assessments can measure how a specific event, such as a marketing campaign, influenced brand performance, while ongoing tracking can reveal comprehensive insights into the brand’s strengths and weaknesses to help the organization innovate its brand strategy. However, each comes with their own drawbacks—a one-time study may be seen as providing limited results, while ongoing tracking requires up-front investment of time and money as well as research capacity to accurately field the survey over time and capture accurate results.
Below we’ve broken down key elements of one-time and ongoing brand tracking and the best use cases and potential limitations for each.
The One-Time Option: Brand Assessment
What It Is: A single brand assessment can help organizations evaluate how their brand is currently performing. A brand assessment provides the ability to drill down into the current state of the brand, such as how aware customers are of the organization, its reputation in the marketplace, and if it’s preferred by consumers when compared to competing products. A brand assessment can also measure how a specific event, such as a marketing campaign or new product release, impacted brand health. Brand assessments not only provide succinct insights into a specific event or time period, they also require fewer investments of time and money.
Best Used For:
- Drilling down into the current state of your brand’s performance. Brand assessments allow organizations to gather specific and detailed data about the brand, asking tailored questions to diagnose or understand a single brand-related issue. For example, an assessment focused on evaluating brand awareness may reveal that a low percentage of customers recognize the organization’s advertisements, giving the organization the insights it needs to further innovate its messaging. Choosing to run ongoing brand tracking instead would not have provided such specific insights into brand awareness—to accurately compare results over time, the organization would have to ask the same questions throughout tracking instead of tailoring their questions for brand awareness.
- Assessing how a specific event (i.e. marketing campaign, new product release) impacted brand health. With 40% of marketers reporting that proving ROI is their top marketing challenge, these one-time assessments can be crucial for highlighting how a marketing campaign performed and impacted brand health. By assessing these one-time initiatives, organizations can make better investments into their campaigns and capitalize on their strengths to set up future initiatives for success.
Potential Limitations: The limited view these assessments provide do not tell the full story of an organization’s brand—how it performs and fluctuates over time, how it’s been impacted by longer-term initiatives or changes in company offerings, and how it’s been affected by market trends. If your organization is focused on gathering the insights needed to develop a comprehensive brand strategy, consider investing in ongoing brand tracking instead.
The Ongoing Option: Brand Tracking
What It Is: In contrast to one-and-done brand assessments, brand tracking provides an intensive, long-term look at the organization’s overall brand performance. This tracking is helpful for organizations looking to innovate and improve their brand strategies, and can offer concrete insights into:
- Awareness: Who has heard of the brand
- Impression: What buyers think of the brand
- Prior Usage: Who is and is not buying the product(s)
- Preference: Whether the brand is preferred over competitors’
- Purchase Intent: If buyers who engage with the brand intend to complete a purchase
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)® Who are advocates of the brand
Organizations considering recurring tracking may choose to assess their findings quarterly, biannually, or any other period of time that makes the most sense for the organization’s goals.
Best Used For:
- Contextualizing brand health strengths and weaknesses within overall brand strategy
- Informing future long-term initiatives, such as marketing and advertising campaigns and new product development
- Benchmark current brand performance to historical data
- Keep a finger on the pulse of a quickly changing market
Potential Limitations: While brand tracking is instrumental to building and maintaining a healthy brand, it can be costly and time-intensive, especially when first setting up the process. Multiple stakeholders may need to be involved in tracking or assessing the findings, and depending on the time commitment allowed, may not have the bandwidth to delve further into individual insights in the same way brand assessments provide. The organization must have research/survey integrity to maintain accuracy in the results, implementing and analyzing the results consistently. Additionally, ongoing tracking can produce a large quantity of data; while more data can be seen as a boon, it can also make it harder to visualize or interpret the results effectively without employing data visualization tools or software. When choosing between these two strategies, organizations should first assess which process makes the most sense for meeting their goals and determine how much time and resources are available to invest in the endeavor.
The Combined Approach: Harnessing Ongoing and Point-in-Time Brand Data
Organizations may not need to choose between conducting either brand assessments or brand tracking—they can choose to have the best of all worlds by pursuing both. An organization can keep their finger on the pulse of brand health with ongoing tracking while using brand assessments to delve into the impact of specific initiatives or events. These two strategies can often work in tandem to reveal crucial brand insights. For example, if your ongoing brand tracking indicates a dip in brand awareness, a one-time brand assessment can be deployed to drill further into the issue, assessing how familiar different customers are with your organization’s brand and with your competitors’. After harnessing the insights from this assessment to improve overall brand strategy, you can monitor any changes to performance through ongoing tracking and continue to adjust as needed. While this combined approach requires the most investment from organizations, it also provides a comprehensive view of long-term brand health and the impact of short-term initiatives—all of which can inform a strong brand that thrives in the marketplace.