How to do brand health tracking correctly

Understanding the health of your brand is important. How else can we know if our positioning is hitting the mark with our audience or what to do more of that’s working? That’s where brand health tracking comes in. In this article, I discuss:

  • What is health brand tracking?
  • Brand health metrics
  • How to achieve brand health goals?
  • Using brand health tracking to make decisions.

What’s the definition of brand health tracking?

Brand health tracking does contain metrics that reflect your brand’s standing and that you have agreed upon.

“I think the ‘agreed-upon’ piece is really crucial there, ” said Jay Lister, head of insights at Reebok on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “Some companies are definitely guilty of measuring everything because it’s measurable or trackable.”

Read next: Customer health: How do you measure relationships with your customers?

Brand health tracking is especially important in industries like Reebok’s where it’s about an image, emotion, and helping people craft their identity, Jay said.

“It’s not just about shoes on feet,” she said. “You have to be distinctive. If you are not distinctive in a competitive market then we’ve got a problem because people can overlook us and go to somebody else to fulfill their need.”

Brand health tracking metrics

Jay explained the measurement of tracking a brand’s health really comes down to:

  • Are people picking up what you are putting down?
  • How are people feeling about your brand?
  • When people think of your category, is your brand top of mind?

“All of that is easier said than done today with so much competition,” Jay said.

There’s also a difference between short-term and long-term brand tracking metrics, she said.

“Long-term we are all here as a custodian or a guardian of a brand,” she said. “For the long-term, we want to make sure the brand sticks around.”

You can measure that through a:

  • Brand equity score
  • Brand power score

"Achieving that score takes time, commitment and consistency."

How about goals?

It does come back to an agreement on the goal. What are we trying to accomplish and how are we measuring that? From there, teams can set goals and incentives for reaching those goals.

“If the KPI is front and center to that bonus then it’s a ‘you manage what you measure kind of moment,'” she said.

Also, be realistic about what’s attainable.

“Are we even doing any major brand investment right now?” Jay said. “If we are not, we can’t really expect the metrics to move much. If we are, we can expect them to move quicker.”

How to measure brand health

A brand can use a variety of tools to understand their customers, including:

Read next: Best practices for survey design in research

Reebok, for example, sends out surveys in different countries with some standard questions and some questions tailored specifically toward Reebok, Jay said.

“We have that running ongoing and dip into the data based on what business question comes along,” she said.

In addition, to asking consumers questions, it’s also helpful to look at what they actually do, for example through:
  • Google search trends
  • Asking them to show you

Read next: Using augmented reality in research

Being clear about the company mission

Jay talked about the importance for companies to be clear about their purpose in general.

“Purpose is so important and that doesn’t have to be a social purpose,” she said. “A company needs to put out there what it needs to do. If that’s for the social good, great. If it’s purely only for profit, that’s also fine as long as that’s clear to you and your employees what you are there to do. That’s what’s important.”

Read next: Is brand activism right for your brand?

At Reebok, the company advocates for human movement. So she looks at:

  • Are we a brand for all?
  • Are we inviting and inspiring people to move?

“We hold the ‘why are we here and what are we trying to do’ front and center,” she said.

Which consumers to talk to about brand health?

Jay says Reebok tracks brand health among consumers that have shopped active apparel or footwear in the last year. The time frame a brand goes after can depend on how often consumers typically purchase a product. For example, a consumer-packaged-goods brand might have shorter time frames just because people buy those products more often.

The brand’s health tracking also should include people who haven’t bought from the brand recently but have bought or are interested in buying items from competitors. It’s similar to how Hertz could consider the consumer study we did on electric car rentals. So could National. It’s the consumers that know a brand – even if they buy from another brand in the industry.

Read next: Research recruitment strategies: Finding research participants without driving yourself crazy

Who needs to agree on brand health metrics?

As we often say, it does start from the top. The chief marketing officer needs to be involved. Then the teams that implement the strategies. That could include the brand strategy team, in-house advertising, and, of course, the insights team. Executive leaders certainly need to buy in as well, she said.

Read next: Marketing and customer insights – how to make it work

“There’s definitely a core group of people who need to be on the same page,” said Jenn Vogel, host of “Reel Talk” and vice president of marketing at Voxpopme.

How will brand health tracking evolve

Some standardization is important so you can track trends over time, said Jay.

“But it has to get quicker,” she said. “So any way technology and data can enable speed and then speed to action.”

Jay says she’s also seeing sentiment analysis evolve with AI and other technological advances. In addition, brands might connect what people are saying on social media and what they are saying in a survey. But, keep in mind that not all new tech is worth trying. As Raj Manocha, EVP at Methodify, has said: Build the MR tech stack that works for your brand.

"You got to be able to screen out what's real and what's just buzzy."

Pilot different ways of tracking, said Emmanuel Probst, brand thought leadership executive at Ipsos, on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.”

“You can experiment with what’s insightful and what’s not,” he said. “It also depends on your product’s lifecycle. Not all tools are suitable to all brands.”

And that also doesn’t mean to trash everything that has been done. Evaluate, add on and discontinue some strategies – like a 45-minute survey.

“I can’t think of anyone who has the patience for that,” he said.

How to use brand health tracking results

As we are measuring the brand’s health, it also is essential to come back with actionable insights.

  • Okay, here’s what we found out.
  • What it means.
  • How we can make decisions from what we just learned.

“The opportunity for brand health tracking is to maximize the diversity of the signals and from there deliver a more insightful form of brand strategy,” said Emmanuel.

In other words, determine what brand tracking insights are actionable and how can they be used to evolve the product, the experience, or even determine room for growth.

“Brand health tracking is important because it’s not looking at the performance of your brand in hindsight,” he said. “It’s becoming a tool to predict and forecast what you are going to do next.”

Like this article? Read more like it here. 

What’s a question you’d like to ask consumers?