Greetings brand tracking lovers! Oh, are you not one of them? Well, you’re not alone. Many companies work with some sort of brand tracking tool to help them understand how consumers perceive their brand, and how their brand strength is developing. The results are often used in brand strategy development and to steer day-to-day decision-making. However, in many organisations brand tracking data is underutilised. The results float around the organisation in general KPI-reports, but what’s causing the results is rarely discussed and few actions are taken based on the data.
Why are brand tracking tools underutilised?
When a brand tracking program is first implemented, there is often a lot of interest and engagement from the organisation. People are excited to get new insights and expand their data tool set. But after a couple of years of measurement, many organisations see a declining interest and usage of the data internally. The users may find the brand tracking stale with no new insights. Rather than exploring how the brand tracking can be further evolved, users tend to gravitate towards new, perhaps more exciting, research solutions or data sources instead.
For many established brands, brand tracking results may appear stable year after year, with very little movement in the top funnel KPIs. And when changes in the KPIs do occur, many users find it difficult to deduct why this is happening and what’s causing the changes. This can lead to a perception that the brand tracking is not actionable and that results cannot be trusted.
The two types of brand trackers
If we generalize, we can say that the brand trackers used by companies can be divided into two categories: the report card and the business tool.
The report card type is focused on measuring the brands performance on a set number of KPIs, e.g., top-of-mind awareness or brand preference. These KPIs are reported across the organization on a regular basis, and results might be tied to compensation or bonuses for the marketing teams. These report card trackers usually have a narrow, inside-out perspective. They only measure the brand associations a company wants to stand for and the specific consumer segments that they want to reach. Report card style trackers tend to have limited usage in the organisation. The main focus is to monitor changes in brand KPIs since these are often tied to compensation, but the data provides very little guidance on how to improve the brand’s performance. Results ultimately lead to very little action.
The business tool, on the other hand, has a wider, more market-oriented focus. They include the main brand KPIs, but the set-up aims to cover the whole competitive landscape and all types of consumers on the market, rather than the narrower focus of the report card. These types of trackers are designed to not only measure how the brand is performing on its KPIs, but also what else is happening in the market and why things are happening, allowing for more proactive actions. This generally creates more internal engagement and long-term usage of the tracking as it helps to answers more business questions.
The business tool tracker is also more sustainable as it can withstand changes in brand strategy, market changes etcetera, without needing large updates, providing a more continuous data stream.
How to create a business tool brand tracker
Design the brand tracking around your business challenges
One key factor for creating a business tool tracker is designing the set-up around the business challenges you would like to address and the specific dynamics of your business and market. At Nepa, we tailor our clients’ brand tracking surveys to their business needs using a modular approach. For example, a client who advertises heavily will want to use the brand tracking to monitor communication effects. In that case, Nepa’s media and ad tracking modules would be applied to provide input to media optimisation and further development of creatives. A client with a new brand in an emerging category, on the other hand, would want to understand how behaviours and attitudes are developing and would benefit from Nepa’s modules on category drivers and purchasing behaviour. By considering what the specific use cases are for your brand tracking, you will be able to design a survey that is both more actionable and more engaging for the users in the organisation.
Use relevant slicing questions
When designing a brand tracking survey, it’s easy to get caught up in the brand and market related questions. But an area that often gets too little attention are the slicing questions that enable breakdowns of the data. Examples of slicing questions could be demographics, category behaviours, shopping missions or consumption occasions. These are the questions that help you answer the why’s: why my brand preference is declining, why a competitor is gaining strength etcetera. Slicing questions help you dig deeper beyond the top level KPIs and provide you with a wider range of analysis possibilities.
These questions are also an opportunity to ensure the brand tracking can cater to a wide audience within the organisation by enabling breakdowns that are relevant for a range of different stakeholders, for example product teams, assortment, customer service etcetera. Slicing questions can easily be added or updated when needed to keep the brand tracking up to date without having to makes changes to the main brand KPIs in the questionnaire.
Apply a continuous data collection approach
Many companies collect their brand tracking data in waves, either monthly, quarterly, or yearly. While this approach provides an understanding of the brand’s performance at a given point in time, it limits the opportunities for insight and analysis of the data. A continuous sampling approach, where data is collected every day of the year, drastically expands the value of the brand tracking. You can more easily follow the effects of campaigns and marketing activities.
External factors such as seasonal fluctuations, or competitor movements, can quickly be viewed and analysed. The continuous survey data can also be combined with other time series data such as media investments, market share development or sales. Additionally, continuous data collection provides more robust results and a more reliable base for conclusions.
Brand tracking can get a bad rep for not being actionable and relevant enough for the users in the organisation. However, by truly treating your brand tracking as a business tool when designing the survey and set-up, you can drastically expand the value and actionability of the insights and keep up the interest in the data over a long period of time.
Read more: Nepa’s Brand Tracking Dashboard