Five Ways to Keep Your Brand Health Tracker Fresh

By Scott Wilkerson and Matt Bernstein

Brand health studies are a great way to measure and track the performance of your brand. These studies provide several benefits: a snapshot of current brand performance vs. competitors; the impact of a specific marketing campaign; and most importantly, a barometer of long-term brand performance trends.  Brand health studies typically measure KPIs among both prospects and customers, including aided and unaided brand awareness, advertising recall, brand consideration, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

Pictured: a photo of an EKG graph with a woman in the background who is tracing the line of the graph. The image symbolizes a brand health tracker, which checks to see how a brand is performing.

A well-designed Brand Health study can be an invaluable resource.  However, it can become stale if results remain flat quarter over quarter, which sometimes leads to disinterest and underutilization among your brand team.  Based on our work with clients across many industries, HawkPartners has identified five ways to keep your brand health tracker fresh – with the goal of keeping your brand team engaged and informed, and your brand performing and thriving.

Five Ways to Keep Your Brand Health Tracker Fresh

#1. Include questions that measure emotions. 

Most brand trackers – especially in the B2B space, focus on rational, System 2 type questions – awareness, consideration, satisfaction, and so on. Adding questions that measure emotional or latent associations with the brand can be a valuable addition. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  • Ask an open-ended question about which words or emotions best describe your brand and key competitors.
  • Ask respondents to rate how your brand (and competitor brands) make them feel, using a sliding scale between two opposing emotions – i.e. valued vs. disrespected, secure vs. vulnerable, etc.). These questions can be particularly valuable if your brand campaign relies on an emotional hook – allowing you to measure customer associations with emotions elicited by the campaign.
  • If you are open to a longer survey, consider including an Implicit Association Test (IAT) battery of questions. IAT is a technique that measures attitudes and beliefs that respondents are unable to report and enables you to compare implicit associations to key attributes among competitive brands.

#2. Include a rotating module of “Hot Topic” questions. 

Adding a rotating set of new questions every field period is an effective way to add fresh insights while not impacting the ability to trend existing questions. Rotating topic areas should focus on specific brand initiatives taking place that quarter – i.e. recall of a new spokesperson, interest in a new offering, or experience with a new marketing channel. Consulting with your internal brand stakeholders on which topics they are most eager to learn about will dramatically increase their engagement. Add these questions to the end of your survey to avoid biasing the core trended questions.

#3. Integrate tracker study results with other brand data. 

Too often, brand health trackers are presented without sufficient context, raising questions about survey results and how they compare with other brand performance data. Why did awareness go up in this region? What accounts for that competitor’s sudden improvement in brand consideration? The list goes on.   By contextualizing tracker results with other important brand data – including advertising spend, sales, customer service data, social listening, competitive intelligence and other custom research studies – you can provide stakeholders with a more holistic view of brand performance. Ideally, integrate these sources into an executive-level scorecard or dashboard. If these data are not readily available, consider secondary research to help provide context. Either way, you will be happy you have answers to these questions before your CMO asks them at the group read out.

#4. Measure ongoing advertising campaigns. 

In addition to measuring long-term brand health metrics, your tracker can also be used to measure recall and perceptions of in-market ad campaigns. Adding a few questions on current campaigns (at the end of the survey) will give your read-out some recency and will keep your stakeholders better engaged. Consider showing visuals, taglines, or even videos from an ongoing campaign to understand what is working (or not working) among your target audience. If you have any additional “space” in your survey, you can even test a few key copy elements for future campaigns. While you need to be careful not to make your tracker a “kitchen sink”, integrating a few simple questions like these can save budget and avoid the need for a separate study.

#5. Include video or qualitative follow-ups. 

A good tracker should raise questions from your team. Some will require follow up to answer. Consider interviewing specific tracker respondents as a survey follow-up to dive deeper into issues that need more clarity. Or, if you are just looking to provide some additional depth, offer a subset of respondents the option to provide video responses to open-ended questions.

Now that you have some ideas for how to keep your brand health tracker fresh, it’s time to consider implementation. Discussing what is most important among your brand team is a great place to start.  HawkPartners can serve as your thought partner to help evaluate which options will add the most value to a new or existing brand health survey. In the meantime, have fun tracking those brand KPIs!

Reach out to Scott Wilkerson and Matt Bernstein to learn more about how to keep your Brand Health Tracker fresh.