What is the actual perception of your brand? With the right tools, you'll get an answer as to whether your business is going to grow or if your competitors are about to trip you up, according to Pål Børresen, product director at Penetrace.
The essentials of a brand are based on influencing people's attitudes, so that they end up choosing you instead of the competition.
"That's what branding is all about," says Børresen.
A good branding strategy builds on significant insights about how consumers need to see you in order to select you. If you succeed in attaining this position, your market share will increase.
But how is your brand actually perceived? After all, a brand is not a physical product, despite what many people may believe.
“Brands are something that exists within our heads – it’s the positive associations and feelings people have about brands that constitute the value of the brand, and strictly speaking you don’t own them. However, you can do your utmost to manage them in a positive way,” Børresen advises.
With a good brand survey, you get an understanding of how your brand is perceived – and you can use these insights to improve the position and profitability of your business in the future.
“For the brand survey to be as useful as possible and to provide the best basis for decision-making, it has to evaluate the brand according to the qualities consumers value when making a selection. We call these market drivers,” says Børresen.
To achieve this, you have to understand how people think, feel and act. This insight must then be turned into precise questions that evaluate this exact aspect.
“It's not always easy. Particularly not when it comes to emotional drivers, which may be the most important thing when choosing between products that are otherwise pretty similar. The risk is making the questions too general, so that you’re just scratching the surface,” explains Børresen.
You also need to make sure that your brand survey captures the specific characteristics that define your brand, and preferably what you assume are your competitors’ key characteristics. When all your competitors are included in the survey, you will get a good picture of how you are perceived compared to the competition.
“It’s also important to be certain of your market or category when setting up a brand survey. It's not always as obvious as you'd think. If you define your market too narrowly, key competitors can pass under the radar. If you define your market too broadly, there will be a lack of nuance, and the survey will be imprecise,” says Børresen.
Børresen says that it is impossible to gain insight into your brand by simply looking at clicks and conversion rates.
“Unfortunately, there’s only one way to measure your brand, and that’s by interviewing people,” he believes.
According to Børresen, interviews should be spread throughout the year, preferably carried out as frequently as every week. He still recommends keeping reporting at a monthly level.
“By doing this, you ensure that the responses reflect the genuine associations of the respondents, regardless of whether they have been exposed to a campaign or not.”
If you ask the same questions over a period of time, you can look at the development of your own brand compared with that of your competitors. Looking at both historical data and the present situation gives you a good basis to identify the communications challenges facing the business.
“This insight is worth its weight in gold if you want to know if you are successful in what you do and to gain an insight into what you should focus on in order to perform even better. For example, this may be increasing awareness or strengthening the associations of the brand,” Børresen says.
If the brand is strong in terms of awareness and associations, but low in terms of preference, the problem may be positioning.
“That should set off an alarm, because doing more of the same won’t help,” Børresen warns.
“The quality of brand strategies can vary from company to company,” says Børresen. He believes that part of the reason is that many companies do not go far enough in understanding the market drivers, thereby not trusting their own strategy.
“The companies that succeed are those who genuinely understand the role their brands play in people's lives. Preferably, they have a strategy that permeates everything a business does, whether it's organisational development, product development, selection of media or communications. This then makes it fairly clear what the focus of a brand tracker should be.”
Børresen also points to the importance of evaluating the brand tracker if there is a change of strategy or new focus areas are selected.
“It’s important to look at historical data, but if the brand tracker does not adapt to changes in strategy, it won’t add any value. Ultimately, it's about understanding the drivers in the market, finding a relevant position and working strategically to attain this position. A brand survey will give you answers about the extent to which you are succeeding.