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Brand Management

Measuring Brand Awareness

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From time to time I come across polls and surveys revealing the brands that have captured the highest levels of awareness. The results usually generate several sensationalist articles with one brand driving another to obscurity. This has prompted me to pause and consider the utility of measures of brand awareness. Frankly, becoming a best-remembered brand is an inconsequential achievement.

To purchase most products and services requires more than simple brand awareness. We also need to have positive evaluations and emotions about the brand. Indeed, brands can increase their levels of brand awareness by performing poorly. This may explain why brands with enormous strategic problems and flagging sales, register strong in brand awareness.

Brand awareness is important for low-involvement purchases, because consumers will often decide from a list of recalled brands brought directly from memory. It is no surprise, therefore, that when brands are measured by awareness most of the top ten brands in the survey are in low-involvement categories, such as breakfast cereal and detergent. Brands in these categories are purchased and used frequently.

When prompted to name random brands, most consumers will retrieve these kinds of brands from memory. But brands from other categories where brand awareness is less crucial are unlikely to feature in the top ten, even though consumers may have stronger relationships with them.

Brands that exist in higher-involvement categories, such as cars, are less likely to be recalled in this way. Brand awareness polls also contradict the target market philosophy most brands adhere to. Luxury brands such as Prada pride themselves on being known by an exclusive minority.

Many marketers make the mistake of only measuring brand awareness under the impression that this provides an accurate indication of brand health.

In fact it is the nature, strength and importance of the brand associations in the minds of consumers that provides marketers with the true empirical vision of their brand equity. Any undergraduate with a calculator and a free afternoon can happily produce a valid league table of brand awareness scores. But no agency has yet produced an effective tool for measuring their clients’ brand associations. Now that would be worth a few column inches.

Courtesy of Marketing Magazine

Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop

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