Brand Tracking for Business Success

Market research is the bridge between your brand your consumers.  As researchers it is our job to know how your consumers behave, what they believe and vitally, to be ahead of the game when these beliefs and behaviors are about to change.  This is where tracking comes in.  We know! Tracking is not de rigueur these days.  Lots of brands are using the masses of Big Data they have to mine the behaviours of their consumers.  This works.  However, it is just that, data.  There is a world of difference between data and insight.  In short, at Spark we don’t believe that Knowledge is power.  It’s just potential power.  If you hand all of the best data to someone who doesn’t know how to interpret it or find the nugget of insight that’s about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. For our tracking clients we are always on, relentless in our mission to know their market and their consumers better than anyone and in doing so keep them ahead of the pack.

Brand tracking is how an award-winning market research agency like Spark helps a new business build on a successful launch. It can also reignite an established business that appears to have plateaued by identifying a new strategy.  It’s the lifeblood of always-on insight.  At Spark our brand equity tracking product is called Spark Flexi-Track ©.  No straight-jackets here.  It’s a flexible tracker built for the 21st century. Let’s face too many of the other trackers are built to accommodate rational, perfect consumers.  If you can find these people let us know – we’ve spent 15 years looking for them with no success.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Jeff Bezos 

What is Brand Tracking?

Good branding evokes an emotional response in people as they become familiar with it. Carrying the best products or services in the world is fantastic, but if your brand is perceived as indifferent to the consumer, the chances are your bottom line is nowhere near as healthy as it could be.  We can help.

A brand tracking agency will use market research techniques for brand exploration. Continually measuring brand perception, momentum, and awareness. Staying in touch with customers, consumers, or service users and learning how they feel about your brand is equally as important as the ongoing product or service development.

Smaller, incremental branding adjustments are easier to achieve and much less disruptive than making seismic changes that could take a long time to bed in. Allocating some of your marketing budget to brand tracking has the potential to make a significant return on your investment.  That said, we firmly believe a lot of money is wasted on meaningless trackers.  Not to mention the significant number of hours sitting through interminable presentations where one number has “jumped” 2%.  That’s not how we work – life (ours and yours!) is too short.  We focus on the human insight and building from there we layer on the brand impact to create a set of Jobs to be Done that will achieve commercial objectives. It’s not rocket science but it does seem to be rare. If you are renewing your tracker year on year “just because” – please don’t.  Let us ignite that tracker and create a programme that makes you, the insight manager, look brilliant and sparks the whole team into action.

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How Spark Flexi-Track Brand Tracking Services help you understand your customers

Spark Flexi-Track was borne out of our experiences with previous tracking studies; both in previous agencies and client side.  Too often the tracker was seen as sacred and new mistakes were made that compounded previous mistakes.  Usually the narrative around the tracker was more important as the data itself started to lose meaning due to the number of footnotes that accompanied it.    Spark Flexi-Track as the name suggests, has in-built flexibility and is built with your commercial objectives in mind.  We keep it fresh.  We keep it engaging and we ensure that people actively seek out the Tracker debrief as opposed to reluctantly agree to attend it.

We do all of the usual stuff – brand funnels, understand the journey-to-purchase, measure media consumption, channel preference but we also use some pretty nifty analysis in the background to empower the brand decision makers – analyses such as  Factor analysis, Bayesian Analysis, Modelling and Cluster analysis.  We have a very large, well used bag of tricks,  that we like to put to good use.  In our experience, marketing directors don’t care about the numbers as much as they care about what they mean.  We provide more meaningful numbers so you can take more impactful action.  You do your job and we do ours.

What does it involve?

Spark Flexi-Track is a regular survey (mostly quantitative but with a large dollop of qualitative too) conducted to track performance over time.  The trend of late is to conduct a tracker every 3 months and that feels about right to us for most markets.  However, if there are big societal changes like we witnessed in 2020-2022 then an extra dip may be required.   Similarly, if the brand being tracked is in a market that is seeing big changes e.g. the rise of Veganism in the food market, it’s likely a full or partial dip will be required to ensure we are on top of the changes.  We typically build an annual plan that encompasses all of the methods – some of our trackers have 5 separate methodologies working together in a matrix structure.  We make it seem a lot easier than that though – we’re all about the outputs and the impact that can have for you.

 

“Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”

– Morpheus, ‘The Matrix’ (1999).

6 Key Reasons to Track Your Brand

Brand tracking research brings valuable consumer and business insight that can be used to improve brand  performance. By regularly tracking your brand, it’s much quicker and easier to spot and correct areas where you are not performing as well as you should be.  Think of it like having a market chest X-ray machine – you see the problems and the opportunities before most have even taken their tops off; metaphorically speaking of course

measuring tape with yellow background

Was your new brand / sub-brand launch successful?   Of course, sales are a big determinant of that.  We are big believers of setting Key performance indicators for new launches and usually awareness, impact on brand perceptions and resultant share are part of these.  This is where your regular tracker can monitor these KPIs – which can the nreassure the company and if necessary the retailer who is stocking your product.

 

Calculating

Making sure that a marketing budget has been well spent is the top challenge faced by many businesses. Proving that there has been a return on investment (ROI) relies on analysing an incredibly complex series of data points. It is a top challenge faced by many companies looking to get ahead. 

Brand tracking is a less intense method of gauging the success of a campaign. Detecting an up-tick in brand performance after a campaign will occur naturally when brand tracking is normal practice. In the same way, we can sound the warning bells when things are slipping and help you find the right strategies to get back on track.

competitor analysis

How is your brand stacking up against the competition? Is yours the brand of choice for your target market? We identify your main competitors and find the key data points and market intelligence that tell the story.  Usually this is through our clever black box of analysis.

Consistently monitoring your performance against your competitors with a constant eye on the top step helps drive continuous improvement, guards against complacency, and creates a dynamic environment that can propel your business forwards.

Commercial Recommendation

Effective brand tracking can help you better understand how consumers perceive your brand. Through this, Spark will be able to make recommendations on how to improve this. This can be anything from your visual branding, tone of voice, features of the products themselves or your customer service.

Face to face research

If you integrate data from multiple sources to create a complete picture of your business and where it sits within the market, this can also assist in planning. You can effectively build a simulated market where you can make changes and see how the effects play out. This can help you identify where your brand can go in the future: for example new product offerings or choosing the best platform to promote your company.  For instance, when we told a certain university to target environmentally aware students via Ecosia rather than Chrome it seemed like a no-brainer.  And it worked.

Finding out more about your consumers’ purchasing habits can help you find out where to focus your marketing efforts and where to make improvements. For example, do your customers buy impulsively or do they carefully consider their purchases? Are they more interested in the cost or the quality of the product? Perhaps they are loyal shoppers who buy from you regularly, or they may make one-off purchases.

This information can help you create targeted messaging that resonates with particular types of consumers. You can also use it to time your messaging so that it reaches them when they usually make a purchase, for example on evenings or weekends.  Sneaky.

Brand Tracking Metrics

Here at Spark, we identify the human and  customer insights that matter and bring exciting and innovative research techniques to the table. We work across many sectors to produce strategies that brilliant brand performance. We reach the people that matter and ask them the right questions.

Our brand equity tracking market research works at macro level and centres around a series of important metrics:

  • Awareness; Is your marketing strategy on point? Are people in your target demographic aware of your brand? Brand awareness means that consumers know about you and remember your business. We want your business to be the first thing people think about when they are considering a product or service that you offer.
  • Attributes; Brand attributes identify the associations people have with a particular brand. They involve the packaging, colours, logos, and content that represent the characteristics of a company as well as the ethos that drives it. A brand might be perceived as vibrant, innovative, and go-getting. On the other hand, if people are attributing negatives to your brand it is vital to get to know about it at the earliest opportunity. Once things turn sour they often do so very rapidly.  Distinctive assets matter – just ask Byron Sharpe
  • Emotional reasons to believe; Measuring the warmth of your brand analyses the emotional response it inspires. We look at how your brand is perceived. Which archetype best fits your brand and are you living that reality in terms of how the consumer perceives you? Is your branding indicative of friendliness, and approachability? Does your branding help your business to come across as genuine and concerned about both your customers and the world in which you do business?
  • Does your brand instill people with enough confidence to become a customer? A perception of warmth often positively influences purchasing intent whereas cold and indifferent has the opposite effect. This type of research needs to be very carefully designed because we are looking at perception as opposed to cold, hard facts.
  • Reputation; Brand reputation research targets your existing customer base. We want to know how you did. Were people impressed with your business? Are they recommending you to family and friends and mentioning you on social media? Do they come back to you on a regular basis?
    Think of brand reputation as a snowball that gathers weight as it gathers momentum. Returning customers, repeat business, and customer recommendations are the lifeblood of any successful enterprise. Brand reputation is organic rather than driven by a huge marketing input. A good brand reputation can dramatically affect profitability.  We looks at research questions such as Net Promoter Score and Net Easy score here.
  • Momentum; When analysing brand momentum we are looking for improvement. Brand recognition, new customers, increased footfall, and of course sales figures all serve to paint a picture. Brand momentum rarely stands still. It is constantly either on the way up or on the way down. Knowing which way things are headed helps to anticipate when it is vital to improving a brand by designing a strategy to turn things around.