What Do We Know About Our Brand?
Brand awareness is the degree of recall and recognition potential consumers have for a particular brand. It demonstrates consumer knowledge about the products, services, information and experiential details associated with that brand.
Companies periodically study the level of brand awareness in order to complete the feedback-loop of their operations. This helps them improve the design, marketing and delivery of products and services.
A brand awareness study is a powerful tool that helps gauge how strong the relevance of a brand is to a particular category. We can also use these results to evaluate how well marketing efforts have performed.
In other words, brand awareness studies are sort of a report card for all the work a brand has undertaken and how its performance stacks up against competition.
Methods To Appraise Brand Awareness
There are several quantitative and qualitative methods to help you conduct brand awareness research. I’ve covered some of them in another article entitled, “Consumer Research – The Impact Of Digital”. The article will give you a few ideas on how to leverage digital technology in your endeavor.
A lot of what used to be administered traditionally has been adapted digitally to address scale, tabulation, speed and cost efficiencies.
What is most important to brand awareness research is that you have a clear objective of what you wish to accomplish. Your evaluation could stretch from a broad study on one end to a more definitive one at the other.
Methods may include one-to-one interviews, focus groups and questionnaires . But, all said and done, the common denominator is a set of carefully curated questions.
For the purpose of this article, I’d like concentrate on the types of questions administered and their implications.
Types Of Questions To Consider
Simply put, Open-ended questions allow respondents to provide unscripted answers while close-ended questions narrow the scope of responses by providing prescribed options to choose from.
Unaided questions measure respondents who express knowledge about the brand without assistance. They rely upon a respondent’s ability to link brands to the topic being studied. Answers to unaided questions demonstrate brand recall, an indication of strong affinity between brand and category.
Conversely, Aided questions measure respondents who express knowledge about the brand after being prompted in some way. Aided answers contribute to brand recognition – the ability of customers to identify a brand by some visual or auditory cues.
Good researchers cleverly structure their questionnaires in way that that helps then determine which brands equate to recall or recognition as this offers a great deal of insight.
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. Brands that are neither recalled nor recognized are referred to as graveyard brands.
A good practice is to begin with generalized questions before probing into specifics. So consider beginning with open ended + unaided questions and tapering off with closed ended + aided questions. This tactic removes any cognitive bias from respondents and really opens the floor to them.
Keep the questionnaire short to avoid testing fatigue. Do not overcrowd or add complexity to the questionnaire. Remember to remove ambiguities, proof read and test the questionnaire in-house before releasing it.
To demonstrate how open and closed, aided and unaided, questions work, let’s assume that you are a mobile phone manufacturer looking to gauge brand awareness with your target audience. You could simply ask respondents an open-ended and unaided question: “Which mobile phone brands would you consider purchasing?”
This allows respondents to use their own faculties to draw up a list. The list will give you an idea of which brands occupy top-of-mind status for them. It may also expand your initial scope of competition.
In the case of an aided question, options are provided to respondents from which to choose from, such as shown below.
“Which of the following mobile phone brands would you consider purchasing?”
As mentioned above, the trouble here is that some of these brands would have occurred to respondents naturally, while others wouldn’t have without the help we provided. Additionally, it does not give them the opportunity to mention those outside your consideration set.
If you rely on too many closed-ended and aided questions, your study becomes misleading as it pulls the researcher into a false state of understanding for where a brand truly sits.
Always look for patterns among respondent answers. For instance, look for how respondents rank the brands they recall. It usually says a lot.
You may also ask probing questions at the end of the exercise to unearth further information like, “what is it about brand ‘X’ that made an impression on you?”. It pays to learn what makes the competition better or worse in the eyes of the target audience.
Question sets should be organized to lead to an end. Spend quality time preparing the question set and try to avoid testing fatigue. After all, you want the most accurate information from respondents to help you assess your brand’s current position.