Brand Awareness Tracking: What It Is and Why You Need It

Posted on April 22, 2020

Updated on March 9, 2023

2 min read time

girl sitting at computer tracking brand awareness

“My gut tells me we’re doing some great things, but I worry our target customers aren’t hearing about them. Is our marketing even touching the right audiences?”

Does this sound like you?

Brand awareness is fickle and hard to measure. It’s the metric of how many people recognize and know your brand. It’s divided into two types: unprompted awareness and prompted awareness. Unprompted awareness is when your brand is top of mind within a category, and prompted awareness is when your brand is recognized within a list alongside your competitors.

Consistently monitoring both of these metrics is called awareness tracking, and it gives you a quick read on the reach of your marketing activities. However, awareness tracking alone doesn't provide you with input on how to improve those activities to impact the bottom line. To make the most of it, it’s important that you use unprompted and prompted awareness within a richer set of brand management metrics.

To show you why, let me explain how unprompted and prompted awareness tracking work in practice.

We need to talk about Eric.
If I ask you to name as many Olympic swimmers as you can, within 30 seconds, who comes to mind?

Your list will probably include the likes of Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe, Jenny Thompson, and other notable medallists.

But, what about Eric Moussambani? Some of you will remember a swimmer from the 2000 games, dubbed “Eric the Eel”, for his tardy 100m freestyle. This heroic and heart-warming performance earned him international attention.

Based on the exercise above, Eric’s unprompted awareness is exceptionally low. Other legends of the pool are just more likely to come to mind when you utter the word “Olympian.”

But his prompted awareness isn’t bad: Eric made enough of an impact that, 20 years later, his name continues to evoke a reaction.

How does this apply to you?
As a brand, you can see why both of these metrics are important. Understanding if you are reaching the right target consumers (that’s prompted awareness) gives you an indication of whether your brand and marketing activity is working. Meanwhile, assessing how “front of mind” you are (that’s unprompted awareness) gives you a hint at how likely a consumer is to pick up your product or service.

But Eric’s example also highlights the limitations of unprompted and prompted awareness when used in a vacuum. Neither metric tells you how good a swimmer he was, nor why he jumped into the hearts of international sports fans. (On a personal note, while I’d heard of Eric, I had to visit Wikipedia to write the paragraphs above, proving that I’m not really familiar with him or his achievements.)

As a brand manager, if you don’t know how good your brand is, why it’s effective, or if it’s building genuine familiarity with your product among your customers, then it is impossible to maximise its commercial success.

Turbo-boost your brand growth with brand awareness tracking
Awareness metrics become really powerful when used alongside consumers’ feelings towards your brand.

This is best demonstrated by a UK Baby Food brand on our ProQuo AI platform. In spite of very low awareness when joining the platform, they harnessed our full set of metrics to navigate trade conversations and ultimately drive brand growth.

Using ProQuo AI, they were able to show that low sales volumes were not a result of their brand’s proposition – they were a result of low awareness. By using our ProQuo AI platform, they were able to demonstrate that their brand offered something different that consumers really craved. As their Marketing Manager put it:

“Since joining ProQuo AI, we have used their data to double our distribution in one of the UK’s largest retailer and we’ve even now been listed in another major supermarket. It’s helped us to drive our awareness and transformed our brand into one that’s now a household name.”

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