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What is Brand Tracking and why is it important?

March 17, 2023

what is brand tracking

Sam Richardson

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Brand Tracking is a vital ingredient in your marketing operations. Imagine setting up target goals, launching large and expensive campaigns, ramping up marketing costs and then crossing your fingers for the best. Sure, you can take your time and research your consumers’ behaviors and create a detailed blueprint for your marketing, but how will you be sure? This is where brand tracking comes in.

What is Brand Tracking?

Brand tracking is essentially a process where you can follow the changes of your brands perception over time. By continuously measuring your brands health, consumers opinions, momentum and associations, you will be able to adapt and overcome problems in real-time, not when it’s already too late.

Why is Brand Tracking important?

Understanding your brands strengths and weaknesses gives you a clear understanding on where to improve and focus your attention. It also gives you a good indication on how your brand compares to your competitors. The constant feedback will help you form the brand that you set out to create from the beginning and allow you to adjust accordingly. In-depth analysis on Relevancy, Customer loyalty, Delivery, Value, Reputation, Visibility and more are key components in forming a brand that will emotionally connect to your consumers.

What to do with the information from your Brand Tracking?

Once you know what your customers think of your brand, you are much better equipped to create campaigns that can either alter or utilize their perception in the most efficient manner. If you play to that perception, your customers will not only get a better and stronger view of your brand, they will also be more willing to listen to what you have to say. The results of your brand tracking basically makes it possible to get your audience to listen.

Why should I focus on my brand and not just performance campaigns?

You might look at your brand as the motor oil in your engine, and the performance campaigns as your fuel. Without the proper motor oil, you will need a lot more fuel to run the engine, and eventually the machine will break down and suffer critical failure. Also, using the wrong type of motor oil will reduce the effectiveness of the fuel. So to optimize the impact your performance campaigns have, you need a good understanding of your brand and how it impacts your customers, and to get that you need to continuously do a proper brand tracking.

Want to know more about brand tracking and how it can be done with ease and efficiency? Contact us and we’ll tell you all about it!

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Brand Tracking is key to increase Brand Awareness

February 24, 2020

billboard advertising brand awareness

Sam Richardson

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The old saying “out of sight – out of mind” is never as true as when it comes to brand awareness. The brands that consumers are continuously exposed to are the ones that stay top of mind. But how do you know your target audience’s brand awareness, if you don’t use brand tracking?

What is Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness is the relationship your audience has with your brand. It therefore includes if people recognize your brand, how they relate to it, what their sentiment regarding your brand is and how they convert to purchase. Having a high brand awareness means people respond well to your brand, are more loyal and also more likely to recommend your brand to their peers. Brand tracking metrics are therefore crucial to making the right brand decisions.

READ ALSO: Brand research: What is it & why is it important?

How do you measure Brand Awareness?

So how do you then measure your brand awareness? The answer is continuous brand tracking! With a good brand tracking method, you are able to understand your audience’s awareness of your brand, and thus know how they interact with it. But your job is not finished by just doing continuous brand tracking.

Challenge when Brand Tracking different consumer groups

You probably sell to many different consumers. Not all of your target groups are likely to have the same brand awareness, so you need to break them down to different niche groups. It could be people in specific geographic regions, of different ages and genders, that have varying educational or income levels.

Brand tracking allows you to get a clearer picture of each group. This in turn gives you relevant information of what your goals should be for each. For one group you might want to keep your current level and focus on performance marketing, while for other groups you might need more targeted efforts. You therefore need to track your brand’s performance with regards to these different consumer groups.

READ ALSO: Benefits of Path to Purchase Analysis

Nepa understands Brand Tracking

Keeping all these brand metrics relevant, accessible and actionable might seem like a lot of work. But when using Nepa’s proven brand tracking system and taking advantage of the many years of experience we have, recurring brand tracking becomes easy, quick, effective and actually really fun. At every turn of the road, you know what lies ahead, how your audiences respond to your brand and how to keep the right balance between your brand awareness activities and your performance activities.

Want to know more about how we can help your company?  Contact us and we’ll tell you all about it!

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Brand tracking – your most valuable marketing tool

February 12, 2020

brand tracking valuable marketing tool

Sam Richardson

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If you are new to marketing, or have just taken over a brand, then your first order of business should be to start brand tracking. Knowing the health of your and is a fundamental component when making business decisions.

In the field of marketing there are lots of different activities and tasks you should be doing to various degrees. But there is one thing you should never skimp on, and that’s your brand tracking. Knowing how consumers perceive your brand is the basis for all your business decisions, and without it you risk running away from your customers, rather than running towards them.

READ ALSO: Brand research: What is it & why is it important?

To drive sales you need to understand your customers

Sure, you need to do performance-focused activities – planning your sales funnel, customer journeys and all the things that drive sales. But before all that, you need to understand your customers opinion of your brand, as their opinion lays the foundation for how they prefer to interact with your business. Without that knowledge your performance marketing activities are like shooting arrows in the dark. Sure, you might hit your target, but with brand tracking you turn the lights on and can zoom in for a bullseye.

Many who have worked in the marketing industry for a longer time already know this, and probably already have a well developed procedure for continuously tracking their brand. But starting out, it can be hard to know exactly how to go about it, and what the most efficient and reliable method is.

READ ALSO: What is brand tracking and why is it important?

Continuous brand tracking keeps the lights on your brand

We at Nepa strive to make continuous brand tracking as easy and cost-efficient as possible for our clients. We want them to focus their efforts on performance based activities, with the assured knowledge that their brand is on track with their customers.

Brand tracking is the basics of brand management, but it should not constitute a major part of your working day. Make sure that you have the results at hand, so you can keep hitting the bullseye.

Nepa Brand Health Tracking drives your business forward.

Want to know more about Nepa Brand Health Tracking? Contact us today to speak with an expert!

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The Brand Metrics That Actually Matter

November 04, 2019

Sam Richardson

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Brand is back. A strong, sustainable brand is a critical component in generating long-term sales, so companies are investing in brand building communications and marketing.

So, what’s the silver bullet in measuring brand value? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. But there are metrics you should pay particular attention to. Almost as important as the metrics you choose are the frequency with which you review them. Fortunately, this is clear cut – you need to measure continuously. Reviewing your brand metrics once a quarter, or worse, once a year doesn’t cut it. Your brand is the living, beating heart of your organization. Now that that’s settled, let’s get back to the hard part – below, we have outlined six metrics that should be part of a weekly review to have brand impact.

1. General awareness

Do shoppers know your brand exists in the market? Do the right shoppers know your brand exists? Measuring if shoppers having general awareness of your brand is one of the first metrics that you’ll want to pay close attention to. Generally, awareness lets a company know if they are breaking through the noise. If your shoppers are not aware of your presence in a category, this may be a good place to shift focus and resources.

2. Media recall

Similar to general awareness, media recall tells a company if they are being seen and heard. Where general awareness establishes who knows the brand exists, media recall goes a level deeper. You have a brand message, but is it memorable? You spend millions of dollars to support the brand, and you need to know the marketplace impact. Some channels will create a more memorable experience than others. Knowing which ones are the most productive will allow you to allocate your budget more efficiently. Those channels will change, so to understand what’s working you need to track this metric on an ongoing basis.

READ ALSO: Brand tracking is key to increase brand awareness

This metric is unique from the others in this list that it’s not generated from an overall brand tracking study, but rather from an ad tracking study that builds up from consumer reaction to individual advertising units. Whether as a standalone program or part of a sophisticated brand tracking program, ad tracking is critical to improving marketing and communications tactics to move the overall brand metrics.

3. Consideration

As shoppers move along the path to purchase, are they considering your brand? Why or why not? Having a presence during the consideration stage can provide a strong understanding if shoppers see value in your brand. Also, you need to know what drives consideration, and how to influence it. How, when, and where to push the right buttons.
Measuring consideration is a strong metric that can provide insight in a number of ways.

4. Competitors

It’s not just shoppers who matter, understanding your position relative to your competitors is vital, too. How do you stack up? On price? On products? On service? – All up, how is your brand experience different than your competitors. If your products are similar, you have to find other ways to differentiate yourself. Building a strong brand is critical to creating a unique position in the marketplace.

5. Willingness to pay

A strong brand can translate into a willingness to pay on the part of shoppers as the perceived value of the brand is factored into the cost of the product or service. This is in some ways the end game for brand development – creating a strong shopper preference – and a sense of value – that feeds through into a willingness to accept, or even embrace, premium pricing.

READ ALSO: Brand research: What is it & why is it important?

6. Preference

The final piece – brand preference. It takes the longest to establish but adds major value. Preferred vendors often get the first look from shoppers, and the first opportunity to capture a sale. Those who offer similar products face less pressure to compete on cost, which can contribute to overall profitability. If you have become a preferred brand, you’re ahead of the pack.

If you acknowledge that brand is vital, then you have to measure its impact. Unfortunately, marketing ROI measurement as it is currently practiced tends to focus on influencing short-term sales while the effect of long-term brand investment is either ignored altogether or not taken fully into account.

Understanding the brand Metrics that Actually Matter allows you to measure its impact in the most cost- and time-efficient way. With those metrics in hand, resources can then be more effectively allocated between supporting short-term decision making and longer-term brand support. Your brand building initiatives then become more intelligent and focused, delivering measurably better ROI across the marketing program.

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CX and Brand: Better Together

June 26, 2019

Sam Richardson

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Whatever happened to Brand?  In the rush to embrace customer experience (CX), it’s become something of a marketing orphan. Our research shows that just 6% of companies are currently using Brand as an input for their CX strategy.

But consumers don’t make the same distinction. They associate CX with Brand and Brand with CX, and one influences the other.  Consumers start on the path to purchase and make buying decisions based on both Brand and CX, emotion and experience. And while transactional CX measures last transaction and complaints, strategic CX works with Brand to harmonize the promise and the delivery. But many companies continue to measure Brand impact and CX separately, and fail to understand how to maximize the interaction between the two.

READ ALSO: Brand research: What is it & why is it important?

There are several reasons for this.  It may simply reflect “siloing” within the organization – with different teams and different systems collecting data that supports brand and CX and then not sharing that data.  It may also be a function of the different media that are targeted and how their impact is measured.  Brand, for example, tends to go wider through the use of broadcast and other mass-oriented media.  Its message is often emotional.  CX is generally more targeted, and more oriented towards last touch and generating a short-term action.  But Brand often precedes CX – for example, an emotional response generated by the Brand can start the customer on the path to purchase. Or, as Forrester puts it, Brand sets the tone and CX brings the brand to life (or should).

Where things go astray, however, is when Brand messaging and CX don’t link up. Forrester Research has stated that, “The ideal gap between the brand image (what customers are promised) and the brand reality (what customer actually experience) is zero”.  But the research firm also notes that, globally, 57% of marketing decision makers say that aligning CX with brand is not a top priority.   Where the values and the messaging don’t align, there is a high likelihood of creating confusion and frustration among purchasers.

READ ALSO: Brand tracking is key to increase brand awareness

So how do you bring the two into alignment?  We recommend starting with a four-step process, as follows:

  • Don’t do CX in a vacuum. Use the Brand to design the Customer Experience.
  • Identify the most important customer journeys from the customer experience.
  • Measure the emotional experiences often associated with Brand. Make sure they are consistent with CX.
  • Align goals for Brand and CX across the organization. Create teams to share data and insights.

The fact is that 80% of CEOs believe that their companies deliver very good Customer Experience but only 8% of their customers agree! This is a serious challenge and it results in part from a misalignment of CX and Brand (among other factors).  By better aligning Brand with CX, you establish a more consistent and emotionally appealing journey for the purchaser and create the opportunity to strengthen relationships and increase sales.

CX and Brand: they’re better together.

Blog Posts

Brand is back

April 29, 2019

Sam Richardson

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For marketers, tactics often trump brand as companies seek new ways to track and activate short-term sales.  There’s nothing wrong with that; we’ve written extensively on the benefits of omnichannel path-to-purchase analytics in this regard.  But it does overlook one key point: when investing in communications, a strong, sustainable brand is a critical component in generating long-term sales.

So you just can’t ignore brand.  CMOs are recognizing this, according to a report from Forrester, with half now saying they plan to bring brand back as a top .  That would be a big change. The current share of market spending for tactical vs. brand is 72%/28%, while an (Field and Binet – 2017).  There’s plenty of evidence that the failure to support brand can hurt both short-term sales and the brand itself. For example, an electronics retailer that reduced its above the line spending in brand-related media by about 30% saw sales fall by 9% while the value of brand fell by 18%.  An unfortunate result all around.

In reallocating resources in the direction of brand there has to be a plan, and it has to be based on data and an understanding of how brand impacts both long- and short-term sales. That means having well-defined ownership of media and putting in place a platform to continuously measure KPIs, including brand, that allows you to isolate the impact of brand and connect it to long-term sales.  Media Mix Modelling (MMM) can be a good tool for this when brand health measurements are associated with media spend to provide insight into the best places to put money to support brand development and sales.

Through years’ of marketing analytics experience, including MMM, we’ve found that some media tend to have greater impact on brand than others – TV and web TV, to name two (where there’s time to tell a story) – while search and banner ads are much less effective.  At the same time, short- and long-term strategies will produce a different set of media priorities.  But what really matters here is ongoing tracking of the impact of each approach on brand and sales to see which delivers the best results over time.  You can’t optimize what you don’t measure.

We’ve done the tracking, and here’s what we’ve found: while both approaches can improve sales, the monetary value of the long-term, brand-oriented approach can be much higher than that of a short-term approach that focuses almost exclusively on activations.  Short-term tactics drive online and store sales, but fall short in longer-term, brand-driven sales.

A lot of resources have been dedicated to short-term activations, in part because the result is immediately apparent and easy to measure. The effect of brand is more difficult to capture, but longer lasting. But when you track brand impact more closely it quickly becomes clear that investing in brand works.  The bottom line: brand is back.

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Thriving in a Transformational Time

April 09, 2019

Sam Richardson

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This year’s Food Marketing Conference at Western Michigan University focused on the ongoing transformation of the industry, which is being driven by the maturation of omnichannel shopping behaviors and expectations. Below are some important takeaways that resonated with me during my time at the conference:

1. Learning isn’t hard; forgetting the old ways of doing things is hard

The fact is, the new realities call for lots of letting go. Among the most important things to forget? Thinking that (a) “channel” comes before “shopper,” (b) today’s competitors are your biggest threats, and (c) your brand is tied to a specific physical product. As an example of this last item, one alcohol beverage company is riding the wave of cannabis legalization by transforming its purpose to “mood management.”

2. There’s a big difference between digital sales and digitally-influenced sales

The first may be small for many brands, and the second may be large. Today’s omnichannel path to purchase (P2P) creates many interactive touchpoints, with instore and online research and purchasing influencing each other. As a result, many ecommerce teams are misreading shoppers’ online research as missed sales when they are actually a purposeful part of the P2P. Understanding this interaction is critical to mastering the omnichannel P2P.

3. The Customer Experience (CX) grading curve isn’t the same as the academic grading curve.

The speaker’s example: 99 – 100 = A; 96 – 98 = A-; 93 – 95 = B; 91 – 92 = C; < 91 = F. He further suggested that this “Tiger Mom” scale is going to further tighten as shoppers raise their expectations based on the best customer experiences they encounter. If you’re not creating better and better customer and brand experiences, you’re falling behind.

4. Know whether your Brand is in line with the experiences your customers are expecting

Customer Experience is the new Brand, and vice versa. Brands are becoming retailers through direct-to-consumer platforms, and retailers are becoming (stronger) brands through their own-label products and an increasing array of services, like delivery. Brand equity is created – and tested – through every experience in which consumers and shoppers experience the brand. Is your premium brand is found in off-price stores, that’s a disconnect. And if your “better for the environment” brand is advertised on a show or network that downplays the risks of climate change, that’s a disconnect, too.

5. When it comes to omnichannel, are you all in, or just all over the place?

As businesses accelerate and execute their omnichannel strategies and tactics, there’s often more emphasis on activation than integration. Make sure your efforts are coordinated and evaluated holistically. Being “all in” in omnichannel means seeing it and building it from the shopper’s perspective, making the most of each touchpoint, and knowing which ones matter most to shoppers and your bottom line.

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Tackling Your 2019 Marketing KPIs With a Unified Approach

March 07, 2019

Sam Richardson

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“How do you really feel about me?”

It’s an awkward question in a relationship. It’s also a difficult one for most brands to answer, but it can be key to a successful campaign. The problem is most brands don’t even bother to ask. Research has shown that as much as 95% of purchasing decisions are made based on fast, intuitive thinking as opposed to a slower, rationale process. In other words, emotion.

Emotion provides a pathway to activation. Recognizing this, market leaders are starting to move some resources in the direction of the upper funnel, e.g. brand building. This acknowledges that increasing marketing efficiency isn’t just about activation and sales; it’s about understanding and measuring brand and brand impact on ROI across channels. It’s about establishing an emotional beachhead in the consumer’s mind early in the decision-making process. Missing that window can mean missing the sale and, just as important, forgoing the chance to start a long-term relationship.

We live in an omnichannel world where customers search for product information and make buying decisions when and wherever it suits them. Tracking the path to purchase provides insight on key inflection points but it doesn’t always go to the emotional core of the decision-making process.  In spite of this, advertisers continue to invest more in activation focused communication than in building brands. One major reason: technology makes it increasingly possible to optimize and follow-up the short-term effects of communication.

An omnichannel perspective is key

Understanding activation is great, but it’s not enough.  Differentiating your brand from the competition and creating the kind of unique and compelling experience that drives customer loyalty and sales requires building an emotional connection, too. To achieve this, you have to adopt an omnichannel perspective, measuring brand performance across all media.  And you need to bring a similar view to measuring KPIs, seeing them in context, using data and analysis to understand not just what the consumer does but why.

If consumers walked a completely logical path to purchase, there would be no need to analyze the emotions that define the upper funnel (consideration for purchase). But they don’t, and there is. If you’re not asking (and answering), how do you really feel about me, you’re missing an opportunity to build brand and boost ROI.

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Brand Health Measurement: Developing Your Brand’s Core Strength

November 20, 2018

Sam Richardson

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Performance marketing KPIs get a lot of attention these days, and that’s understandable. But, if that’s all you’re looking at, you might remind us of the guy at the gym who only works on his biceps. Real strength is core strength, and the right way to improve it is through brand health tracking.

Here are some thoughts on why to focus on your brand’s “core strength,” and an invitation to take our free assessment.

1. Strong brands = efficient sales

A brand with core strength creates many benefits: premium pricing power, a loyal cohort of repeat customers, strength in retail partnerships, and more. A consistent finding in our Marketing Effectiveness work is that a strong brand can command premium pricing, withstand competitive pressure, and deliver efficient growth. While the way brands and consumers interact each other is certainly changing, the benefits of strong brand will remain constant.

2. Consumers establish personal relationships with brands

For modern consumers with nearly unlimited choice, brand preference is influenced by elements beyond the product or service. Today, a brand may represent personal topics like social values and politics in more personal relationships with consumers. This is a great opportunity for brands – but it also makes them more susceptible to reputational threats. In the social media age, where one tweet can erase millions of dollars from an established brand’s equity, it’s critical to continuously measure a brand’s health.

3. Challengers are threatening established brands on more fronts and at a faster pace

Established brands that have been on shelves for decades, or even centuries, are now forced to adapt to ecommerce. Adding to the complexity is the rise of private label competitors, delivery services, and third-party sellers. Technology enables brands to be created at an unprecedented speed – crowdfunding campaigns, easier access to manufacturing and direct to consumer distribution have reduced barriers to enter almost every product category. A name drop from the right social media influencer can catapult awareness to millions of followers.

In this environment, both established brands and the challengers that are looking to unseat them need to cultivate the health of their brands.

4. Choosing the right brand-building media mix

The media landscape today is a beast – aptly described as a “spaghetti bowl” by one of our clients – and more dollars are being allocated to performance channels that are unproven for brand-building. These changes in marketing channels and allocation of marketing spend will have a profound impact on a brands’ reputation. Smart marketers are incorporating metrics that allow them to measure the effect that their media mix has on brand health.

Is it time for a brand health check-up?

There are many reasons that brand health is more critical than ever as challenger and established brands alike navigate a new business environment that is unfolding at an incredible speed. Maintaining a healthy brand requires reliable measurement tools to track important brand KPIs.

We’ve created this brand tracking assessment to help you determine if you’ve got the right tools in place. Click here to get started.