How to measure brand awareness

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    So, what is brand awareness… beyond alchemy?

    Fundamentally, brand awareness is the familiarity of a brand within its target audience. 

    Ideally, you want to be top of mind (ToM) when a potential client or customer is asked to recall a brand from your sector or industry. 

    brand awareness

    [“Top of Mind” example] What’s the first brand you think of when I say “fizzy drink”? 

    Coca-Cola? Pepsi? It’s likely to be one of the bigger brands, unless, of course, you feel a strong sense of loyalty towards a craft Ginger Beer - or are trying to be clever. 

    That being said, there is certainly more opportunity for lesser-known brands, with the right promotional activities, to make it into the next layer of brand awareness - Brand Recall.

    This is where respondents are asked to list out all the brands they are familiar with within a certain sector. 

    [“Brand Recall” example] What fizzy drinks brands are you familiar with?

    I managed to write down 11 names in just one minute, with a clear mix of global and independent labels. Have a go for yourself and see how many you can recall. 

    I also took a look at the most common brand themes related to “fizzy drinks” on Quick Search:

    How to measure brand awareness

    Most common "fizzy drinks" brand themes Over last 13 months, identified using Quick Search.

    Although, of course, not all brands involved in the “fizzy drinks” conversation were from the industry specifically, all the obvious ones were present - Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, Dr Pepper, etc. This gives some indication as to the fizzy drinks brands with the best awareness. 

    By picking out two of the biggest players and digging a little deeper, we can then also gain a more complete assessment of how well their brand awareness initiatives are performing:

    How to measure brand awareness - Coca-Cola Vs Pepsi

    SOV: Pepsi Vs Coca-Cola, based on social mentions over last 13 months.

    But, before I go any further with this, let’s first look at the next level of brand awareness - prompted or aided recall (sometimes called recognition). 

    This is when you are given a list of brands and asked to check off any that you are familiar with. 

    [“Prompted brand recall” example: Which of the following fizzy drinks brands have you heard of?]

    How to measure brand awareness

    Selection of fizzy drinks for prompted recall brand awareness.


    Further to these initial indicators, there are also additional layers to brand awareness, such as how familiar your target audience is with your USPs, but I’ll get into that in more detail later. 

    For now, let’s take a look at the 3 most important methods for measuring brand awareness. 

    3 key brand awareness measurements

    1. Web analytics 

    For any inbound marketing company, of course one of the key outcomes of an improved brand awareness strategy is web traffic. 

    The first port of call in this respect is direct traffic, which is where users have landed on your website as a result of typing the URL directly into their web browser. Or at least that’s the simplified version. 

    How to measure brand awareness

    Locating Direct traffic on Google Analytics.

    Unfortunately, direct traffic metrics are not always a marketer’s best friend, in that it can be a misconception that all users have arrived via the URL route. Indeed, such is the confusion around this that many start to view direct traffic negatively, despite it being a key channel.

    There are ways around this, however, and it is possible to clean-up what qualifies as direct traffic to your website in order to gain a more accurate picture. This process can include managing your use of redirects, ensuring campaign tagging best practice and migrating to HTTPs. 

    Once you are able to achieve this streamlined version of direct traffic metrics, you will then be better positioned to activate a strategy to optimize the channel. When you consider that direct traffic typically has one of the highest channel conversion rates, this can have a huge business impact. 

    Another great way to gain a better assessment of your brand awareness via web analytics is to split your organic traffic into branded and non-branded segments. 

    The branded organic traffic metric - where users are including your brand or product names within a search query - is very much aligned with direct traffic and can give you a more complete view of how your brand awareness activities are performing.

    How to measure brand awareness - organic

    Example of a branded organic search.

    2. Surveys 

    As outlined at the beginning of this blog, there are a number of simple questions that can be posed to targeted personas in order to measure brand awareness. 

    The results typically fall into the following structure:

    How to measure brand awareness


    Of course, the ultimate goal for any brand would be to achieve dominance - where they are ToM throughout the majority of their target personas. 

    The base of the pyramid - unrecognized - would suggest that an individual was completely unaware of your brand even when the name was mentioned to them in order to drive a response. 

    Your survey can also dive much deeper in order to separate specific personas, timeframes, level of experience within your sector, as well as unearthing insights related to sentiment, knowledge of USPs and variations between individual products etc. 

    3. Social listening

    For many, social media is considered to be the best modern survey platform available today. Where else can you gain access to close to 3 billion global voices and how best to conduct a survey than to have real-time access to daily organic conversations?

    Simply by setting up a query for your brand on Quick Search, for example, you will be able to access a variety of metrics that provide unique insights into your brand awareness levels.

    This query can be setup to target a specific demographic or platform in order to gain deeper insight into where and with whom your brand awareness activities are striking a chord. 

    It can also be setup to ensure optimal accuracy using boolean operators - the best example of which relates to the global tech firm, Apple:

    How to measure brand awareness - Apple Boolean

    This process can actually be enhanced further using Talkwalker’s proprietary AI Engine, but I’ll leave that for another time. 

    Once you have set up your search query, you are then able to measure your brand awareness performance across a range of metrics. 

    Volume of results

    The first metric that can give you an indication of your brand awareness performance is the sheer volume of results that you are able to identify. 

    With the correct search query, this will clearly illustrate how many times within a set period social media users have mentioned your brand. We can see the results of this for the “Apple” search query below:

    How to measure brand awareness

    Volume of mentions for "Apple" using Quick Search.

    The key thing with this is that these results include all mentions of your brand and not merely those that are somehow connected to your own social channels.

    Native social media analytics tend only to show you the very tip of the iceberg, with the vast majority of users who mention brands not also following or tagging those brands’ own channels. 

    By accessing the total number of mentions and being able to analyze these mentions over time, you are able to develop a much clearer picture as to how your efforts are impacting your brand awareness. 

    Of course, you can also go much deeper to identify common themes, key drivers of positive (or negative) sentiment etc. 

    Total engagement 

    The next step forward after the total number of results is to look at the total engagement. Although this is perhaps further on from brand awareness, it does also help to quantify the further implications of your brand awareness activities.

    For example, if a specific brand campaign happened to go viral, then ultimately the high level of engagement would indicate that more people are becoming aware of your brand. Take this example of one of Apple’s most engaged posts of recent weeks: