What is Brand Awareness and How to Measure It?

Companies spend millions of dollars every year on advertising in a bid to increase their brand awareness. Yet, as with most things today, there are two divided camps on whether brand awareness is a valuable metric to focus on or not. Some would say that it’s just a meaningless vanity metric. But there’s a reason why companies spend so much cash on getting their brand in front of as many eyes as possible. 

Brand awareness is a tricky concept for those who are new to digital marketing, however, there are several ways of measuring customer awareness. Plus, all of these methods can (and ideally should) be combined and measured against other vectors to get the full picture. Here’s a look at what brand awareness is, and how businesses can measure it.

Brand Awareness: ROI Fluke or Real Metric?

Nothing drives marketing strategies as much as the return on investment (ROI), and with brand awareness that’s a touchy subject. One camp argues that seeing how many people are aware of a brand doesn’t indicate the intent to purchase or show brand loyalty. Meanwhile, the other says that it is crucial because it leads to brand recognition and recall, and that it’s one factor in purchasing decisions.

That said, measuring brand awareness isn’t as easy as arguing about it. But it is important because it can be a good indicator of what works for a brand and what doesn’t. Even if a marketer sees brand awareness as a vanity metric, it’s still a good way of gauging whether marketing content is reaching its intended audiences or not.

5 Ways to Measure Brand Awareness

1. Website Traffic

Page traffic is not only easily attainable data, it is also a good indication of brand awareness. Especially since Google Analytics makes it relatively easy to see where the visitors came from, providing even more usable information. Make sure to look in the right places, though, like unique page visits. Also, take care to compare these results over some time to get a better picture.

2. Social Impressions and Reach

Social media provides a lot of usable metrics, and impressions is a good one for measuring brand awareness. Keep in mind that it should not be the only metric a company uses to gauge brand awareness as plenty of people don’t follow brands’ social pages. Even the ones they actually like. Targeted ads provide a better indication, but in some cases (like on Facebook), is also dependent on how much a company spends.

3. Quick Online Surveys

No one wants to fill out a long questionnaire from a company they don’t care about. But most people like taking part in a quick Twitter poll. Online surveys via social media is an excellent way to see how many people recall the brand. Email surveys, meanwhile, are a good way to find out how existing customers know the brand.

4. Search Volume Data From Search Engines

There are a number of great tools that can help a brand check their keyword search volume, including Google’s native tool Google Trends. Search volume data is a good indicator of people’s brand recall as well; this means they’re actively searching for the company instead of happening on it by accident. 

The only downside is that this doesn’t work unless the brand has a very specific name that cannot be used in another context. For example, Apple is going to deliver searches about the fruit in addition to the tech company, which pollutes the results.

5. Social Listening Through Hashtags and Tools

Hashtags are a popular way for big companies to check in with their audience and see how many people talk about their brand. This might be a bit harder to do for SMEs or businesses with a more generic brand name unless they fill a certain “hashtag-able” niche really well.

There are other ways to gauge how much people are talking about the business, without resorting to hashtags. Namely, social listening tools geared towards helping marketers cut out the clutter and find what people are saying about their business.

Final Thoughts

One important factor to keep in mind when measuring brand awareness is a concept called the share of voice. Share of voice is when brands measure the proportion of conversations it is mentioned in, in comparison to competitors and the industry overall. Essentially, it means looking at the picture as a whole instead of focusing on the part of it.

Also, keep in mind that these metrics mean nothing when they aren’t compared to the company’s average metrics over a long time. For there to be any meaningful conclusions from brand awareness data, it has to be compared against a benchmark.