Branding, Online Survey, Research

What is Brand Awareness and How Do You Measure It?

What is Brand Awareness Research?

Anyone not living under a rock recognizes Nike’s swoosh and Apple’s, well, apple. But not many people have probably heard of Bob’s Bait Shop. These brand awareness examples highlight the wide spectrum of awareness that exists among brands. 

Brand awareness, then, is the number of people who are aware of a particular brand, company, or product. Understanding your brand’s position in the market helps when trying to build a presence, develop marketing initiatives, and increase sales.

Brand awareness studies conducted by Cahners Research reveal that brand awareness is the first step toward increasing brand preference, which leads to an increase in market share and sales. In addition, as greater levels of awareness are reached, conversion to preference comes more quickly (for example, as awareness increases from 25% to 35%, preference increased from 10% to 15% (a 5% difference); between 85% and 95% awareness, preference increased from 55% to 70% (a 15% difference).

These results demonstrate how important it is for companies with low brand awareness to get their message out; otherwise, sales, and the company, will suffer. Of course, many companies don’t know how often people actually think about them, which is where brand awareness research comes in. 

Two Types of Brand Awareness: Recognition vs. Recall

Consumers remember brands in different ways. Some brands have such an overwhelming cultural presence and global reach that they enjoy “top of mind” brand recognition, such as Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Disney, and the aforementioned Nike and Apple. Other brands only come to a consumer’s mind when they are reminded of them when they see their logo or hear their name. 

Brandwatch, a company dedicated to tracking what various brands customers think about, writes about how to measure levels of brand awareness in a blog post here that’s definitely worth your time. Now, let’s take a look at two types of brand awareness research.

Brand Recognition (Aided Research)

When measuring brand awareness using aided research, people are provided with brand visuals or names to determine the percentage who recognize your brand among the other brands. Having a high recognition level in aided recall questions is important when customers are at a store and are presented with the same product offered from several different brands.

For example, brake fluid is not something you buy every day. When you do need to buy it, you may have forgotten the name of the brand you used last time. But, when you’re in the auto parts store, you may suddenly recognize that brand when you see the familiar silver oil container or the logo.

Brand Recall (Unaided Research)

Unaided brand recall asks the customers to remember the name of a brand without having it appear in a list or picture gallery like shown in the example survey above. This makes recall the highest level of brand awareness. To conduct unaided research through a brand recall survey, questions must be open-ended as presented in the example below. Research shows that a higher correlation is found between customer preference of a brand and the brands they mentioned in the unaided research.

Measuring Brand Awareness Using Brand Awareness Tools

How do you measure brand awareness? When it comes to traditional advertising such as television and radio campaigns, marketers look at reach and frequency to determine if their message is reaching the masses. For other forms of marketing, different metrics can be used—and it’s probably easier than you think! Here are some useful tips regarding brand awareness metrics you can use to determine whether you’re good to go, or need to up your marketing game!

1. Conduct Brand Awareness Surveys

Brand awareness survey questions can help you gauge how familiar people are with your company. Whether your survey is done online, sent by mail, or conducted over the phone, you should consider a two-prong approach:

  • Asking existing customers how they heard of you to understand what means of marketing, from television ads to basic word of mouth, has been most successful.
  • Asking random people if they have heard of your brand to gain insight into how many people can recall your brand.

Pro Tip: Always conduct both unaided and aided brand awareness surveys to give yourself the best foundation for decision-making regarding your company’s brand and its market awareness.

2. Check Website Traffic and Online Search Volume

Web traffic is a lot like road traffic; the more congested it is, the more popular the route! Analyzing your website traffic with Google Analytics over time can provide a number of insights into levels of brand awareness

Direct traffic is a good indicator, showing the number of people who typed your URL into their address bar, used a browser bookmark, or clicked a link.  Of course, this isn’t an infallible measure of brand awareness; for example, someone purchasing Ziploc bags is probably going to buy them through a supermarket or on Amazon, not through Ziploc’s website.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends are other brand awareness tools you could use. These allow you to view how many people are searching for your brand name, and to track it over time to see if search volumes are increasing. Of course, data can be skewed if your brand name is also a common word, such as Tide (boaters, for example, may be looking for high tide and low tide times, not the detergent). 

3. Use Social Listening Tools

Sure, you can look at the number of followers your brand has on social media versus competitors, but it doesn’t paint the full picture. Social listening, on the other hand, is an effective tactic as it lets you see what people are talking about organically. “Listening” to unsolicited opinions across the web gives you insight into consumer’s natural thoughts about your brand. 

A social listening tool (such as the aforementioned Brandwatch) helps you write refined searches that can eliminate irrelevant mentions, such as in the “tide” scenario.

Finally, you may also want to check your social media share count. Shared Count is one free tool that allows you to quickly see how many times a piece of content has been shared socially across platforms like Facebook and Linkedin. Just pop the URL you want to check out into the Share Count box and click “analyze.” Social media management tools such as Hootsuite can also track your performance on social channels.

How to Increase Brand Awareness

This could be a blog all on its own! As a survey creation company, we feel one of the best ways to increase brand awareness is to ask existing customers how they heard about your brand; if it becomes clear that one method of your marketing mix is doing most of the heavy lifting, you may choose to invest more in that initiative and less in those that are yielding little results.

Of course, there are many other ways to increase your brand awareness, and often it will have to do with your budget. Here are 15 ways to increase brand awareness to get your wheels spinning. 

  1. Offer referral rewards
  2. Invest in traditional media
  3. Become active on social media
  4. Pay influencers to promote your product
  5. Offer free samples
  6. Develop more unique branding
  7. Perform search engine optimization
  8. Hold contests
  9. Try guerrilla marketing
  10.   Sponsor events
  11.   Get involved with the community/donate to causes
  12.   Co-brand with more established brands
  13.   Offer valuable content
  14.   Improve customer service to increase word of mouth
  15.   Do email marketing

Brand Awareness Survey Questions

While no two brands are alike, brand awareness survey questions are often quite similar! Here are some common brand survey question examples you’ll want to consider asking of your participants:

  • When was the last time you used our product category?
  • When you think of this product category, which brands come to mind?
  • Which of the following brands have you heard of?
  • When did you first hear about our brand?
  • In the past three months, where have you seen or heard about our brand?
  • How familiar with our brand are you?
  • In the past three months, how often did you hear people talking about our brand?
  • How would you describe your overall opinion of our brand?
  • Has your perception of our brand changed in the past three months?
  • Would you be likely to recommend our brand to a friend or colleague?

Want to see this particular survey in action, with the responses included? Check out our Brand Awareness Survey Template.

Build Brand Awareness By Building Surveys!

Are you ready to put the power of surveys to work for you? SurveyLegend is leading the way in easy online survey creation, and we’ve worked with some of the world’s biggest brands! Our surveys can help you gauge your brand awareness and recognition among customers and non-customers, giving you the data you need to put a stronger marketing plan into place. Sign up today for free!

About the Author
Born entrepreneur, passionate leader, motivator, great love for UI & UX design, strong believer in "less is more”. Big advocate of bootstrapping. BS in Logistics Service Management. I don't create company environments, I create family and team environments.