“Brand awareness” - to most people, and especially to non-marketers, sounds fuzzy and intangible. There are no hard and fast metrics or data to lean on, which can cause data-driven marketers to break out into a sweat.

Succinctly, brand awareness is how familiar your target audience is with your company, and how well they recognize it.

Why track it at all?

Consumers have never had such a wealth of choice at their fingertips, with so many companies vying for their attention. Yet all this choice is overwhelming, which is why 85% of consumers now research online before making a purchase.

When consumers are already aware of a company and its products, they are more likely to trust that company instead of researching other options.

Therefore, tracking brand awareness is a key benchmark in knowing the impact of your marketing strategy over time, and can help you differentiate your messaging, understand how to launch a new product, know if your target audience is still relevant, and keep an eye on emerging or evolving competitors.

Brand awareness, brand recall, or brand recognition?

This is where definitions can get a bit confusing. Brand awareness, brand recall and brand recognition are varying terms, yet all equally important for a marketer to understand.

Brand awareness simply means the recognition of a company or its product by its name alone - a fundamental way to distinguish how well your target audiences identify you versus your competitors.

Brand recall refers to how well a brand is connected with a specific product type or class. You can test it by asking your target audience outright which brand/s immediately come to mind in relation to a product class, unaided and with no prompts.

E.g.“When it comes to car models, which brands immediately come to mind?”

Brand recognition means the ability to recognize or know a specific brand with very low effort. In an ideal world for businesses, consumers will recognize a brand by its logo or other attributes, for example, the golden arches of McDonald’s, without even needing to see its name.

Brand recognition is therefore crucial to your wider marketing strategy, so your company becomes recognizable for its logo, visual elements, tone of voice, tagline - not just its name alone.

How to track brand awareness

Now we’ve covered the why and the basics of brand awareness, let’s understand how you can go about tracking it!

You can track brand awareness with metrics such as organic traffic - i.e. how people intentionally find your product - but in this article, I will focus on a key qualitative method - brand awareness surveys!

Google Surveys is a great tool to gather customized market research at a very reasonable cost and for any budget. You can target your audience and use screening questions to ensure respondents are in your target audience.

However, don’t get carried away and treat this survey like an in-depth, qualitative survey like with tools such as Survey Monkey and Typeform. You are not trying to find out absolutely everything, rather gather key information about the state of your brand, and its ranking against your competitors.

As with any research you do as a marketer, never ask leading questions. Survey Monkey has a wealth of resources on how to best ask questions, from the basics to more advanced market research techniques. Google Surveys also provides lots of helpful tips and insights on how to make the most of the surveys possible.

When you have your results, be sure to dig in and compare the data using pivot tables to see if there are any interesting correlations. From this comparison, you’ll be able to identify any gaps between what people look for and the attributes that people see in your brand - and your competitors!

Once you have a good survey process in place, repeat it! A good benchmark is to run a brand awareness survey quarterly, keeping the questions the same and monitoring any changes.