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How to Interpret Brand Tracking Data

Learn more about changes in awareness, how external factors influence your audience, and how to make more effective brand decisions.

Who your customers are, and who the competition is. These are the two most vital things you need to know in 2020 and luckily, you've chosen Latana brand tracking to help you out. The wealth of data that comes from our tool is immense. Our goal, and the goal of this article, is to help you:

  • Measure the impact of your campaigns in a reliable format
  • Help you understand how your target audience perceives your brand
  • Take a closer look at how your brand compares to your competitors

The opportunities for utilizing this data are endless. But we also understand that due to the sheer amount of data you'll have access to, it might be a bit overwhelming at times. If you're new to the world of brand tracking, or are unsure about just what your results mean - we've created an outline below to help you interpret your data! We're also consistently generating new blog posts that specifically focus on brand awareness. Our goal is to help you use this data to make better marketing decisions

What Could be Causing Brand Awareness Levels to Change

Marketing campaigns are expensive, and naturally after running a campaign, you want to see a rise in brand awareness with each wave of new data that comes in. However, increases are not likely to occur every time. Don't worry - this is completely normal. Life isn't static, so why should brand awareness be any different?

Unless you see drastic jumps, either up or down, in your brand awareness levels, don’t worry. Plus, and this is very important, no matter how good you think your brand campaigns are, it is unlikely they will be enough to increase brand awareness by 20, 30 or 40% at a time. A more realistic figure is somewhere between 3-5%. This is also a realistic number for drops in brand awareness. It’s only after experiencing a drop of 6%+ that you should start to reevaluate your marketing strategy.

Unless you observe some very drastic jumps in Aided Awareness, either up or down, there is nothing to worry about. And, no matter how great you think your campaign is or was, it is unlikely to result in a drastic increase in brand awareness - we're talking jumps of 20, 30, or 40% are unrealistic. More realistically, increases tend to range between 3-5% at most. Just like increases, this number also represents a realistic number for decreases. You should only start to reevaluate your marketing strategy after a drop of 6% or more in Aided Awareness. Brand Consideration, Preference, and Ad Awareness are more subjective to changes, because these KPIs represent a smaller pool of respondents.

So we’ve established that it’s normal for brand awareness to fluctuate over time. Now, let’s look at some of the reasons this might happen.

Your Brand is Too New 

That's right, we said it - but for good reason. Brand marketing and growth is a long-haul game, and if your brand is relatively new, your marketing (no matter how great it is) might not yet have the long-lasting impact that more established brands have achieved. It's all about winning the mind of the consumers. We took a closer look at the book "Building Brand Equity and Consumer Trust Through Radical Transparency Practices” by Elena Veselinova and Marija Gogova Samonikov to help explain this. 

The book references a study on blender manufacturers that was conducted in the 1990s, in which respondents were asked to provide a list of all the blender manufacturers they could recall. Despite not having manufactured blenders for at least 20 years, General Electric came in second place among the responses. 

Fast forward to 2019, and we observed a similar study in which several thousand homemakers were asked to provide a list of as many household brands as they could recall. While many interesting insights were derived from this study, perhaps the most important for this article is that 40+ brands were mentioned, and of these, 85% were older than 25 years, and 75% were at least 75 years or older. 

The moral of the story? Spikes in brand awareness levels can be directly tied to your marketing activity, and you'll likely observe lifts in brand awareness during this time. However, as you work to become a long-established brand, it is likely that these levels might fall again between campaign cycles; or at least remain stable. Frustrating? Yes. Unexpected? No. Remember, it is going to take your brand a long time to reach the level of saliency that General Electric had in the study above, especially if you are a new player in an already saturated market of big players.

No Loyal Audience

John R Rossiter, Larry Percy, and Lars Bergkvist made an excellent point in their book, “Marketing Communications: Objectives; Strategy, Tactics.” By looking at brands such as Apple or Coke, who many of us would presume to have already reached 100% in terms of brand awareness. We're not here to debate this - just to ask you a simple question: have you ever seen either of these corporations run a campaign that was not brand-centric? The answer is no, by the way. These big brands do this because they need to keep customers who are not yet brand loyal in mind as a way to compete for their market share. This is also important for smaller companies, as we all battle it out to increase conversion. Consider the quote below:

“...especially those who are not brand loyals or favorable brand switchers, brand awareness fluctuates - individuals may fail to recall even a well-known brand or may pass by its logo or packaging without noticing it.

We'll discuss leveraging brand tracking data to improve your marketing strategy in a different article, but for now, we ask you to think about this: in your campaign efforts, are you consistently showcasing your brand each and every time?

Why It’s The Brain’s Fault

When it comes to consumer awareness, it could really just be a matter of "it's not you, it's their brains". We mentioned over-saturation, longevity, and customer loyalty above, but it could really just be that the brains of your target audience have worked against you. Their brains have simply pushed out information about your brand in an effort to make room for other information. 

A recently published paper by Nature Neuroscience backs up this concept. In an effort to understand why the brain pushes out information when it receives new, but similar, information to that it has already stored, the pushed further. New but similar information seems to interfere with existing knowledge - and when a competitor runs a campaign similar to one of your previous campaigns, it can erase or alter the memories they've associated with your campaign.

How does this happen?

Participants involved in the study were taught to associate the same word with two completely different photos: one of Marilyn Monroe, and the other of a hat. The researchers then chose a target memory, and then asked the participants to recall that memory multiple times. With each successive recall, the weaker the competing memory became. Lesson: it could be that your brand is the competing memory, and if a consumer sees your brand campaign in April, but your competitors in May, this may be reflected in declining brand awareness from April to May for you brand.