Brand awareness is a powerful tool that measures how familiar the target audience is with your brand. The objective is to gauge how well your brand compares with competition. It is also used to evaluate how well your marketing efforts, particularly advertising, have faired.
Methods to appraise brand awareness
There are several quantitative and qualitative methods to help you conduct such research. I’ve covered them in another article entitled, “Consumer Research – The Impact Of Digital“. It will give you a few ideas on how to get started and leverage digital technology in the process. What is most important though, is that you are clear about what you are evaluating. Does it pertain to a specific campaign? a specific communication channel? or is it general brand awareness? Your evaluation can stretch from a comprehensive study at one end to a definitive one on the other.
Types of questions to ask
To begin, you will need to develop a set of questions that will help you properly achieve your goal. These questions may be open-ended or close-ended and will essentially fall into aided and unaided buckets.
Aided Vs unaided questions
Aided brand awareness questions measure the number of respondents who express knowledge about the brand after being prompted. Conversely, unaided brand awareness questions measure those that express knowledge of the brand without being prompted (this is a good place to be). Both question types may be included in the same question set.
You may begin with questions pertaining to the product-category in general. Probe to see if your brand top-of-mind / mid-way / tail-end / not mentioned. A good practice is to lead with unaided questions so that no cognitive bias persists with respondents.
Answers to aided questions tend to indicate weaker affiliations between brand and category. This is because respondents were prone to remember brand names only after being presented with a list of category associated brands.
On the other hand, unaided questions don’t mention specific names. They rely upon respondents to link brand names with the product category being studied. Answers demonstrate brand recall i.e. a strong affinity between brand and category.
Framing aided and unaided questions
To demonstrate how aided and unaided questions work, let’s assume that you are a mobile phone manufacturer looking to find out how aware your target market is about your brand. You open with an unaided question like, “Which mobile phone brands are you familiar with?” This allows respondents to use their own faculties to come up with a list. This gives you an idea of the brand ladder in their minds.
In the case of an aided question, you provide a list of brand options from which respondents can make their selection. The same mobile phone question can be reframed as:
“Which of the following brands have you heard of?”
- Your brand name
In this case, respondents have been prompted with a set of brands, some that they would have recalled unaided, and some that they wouldn’t have recalled unless prompted.
While it is best to be on the side of brand recall, what you certainly don’t want is to be absent from brand recognition (failure to rank even when presented in a list to respondents). Brands that are neither recalled nor recognized fall into a category known as graveyard brands.
Always look for patterns among respondent answers. For instance, look for how respondents rank the brands they recall. This lends valuable information on which brands are making the biggest impact. You may ask probing questions to unearth further information like, “what is it about brand X that made an impression on you?”. Learn what makes your competition better or worse.
Question sets should be organized to lead to an end, the ultimate objective of your test. Spend quality time preparing the list and try to avoid testing fatigue with respondents. After all, you want the most accurate information from them to help you assess your brand’s current position.