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How to know if your brand marketing is working

Marie-Josée Legault
Oct, 2023
5 mins

We spend a lot of time and energy working with our clients on the development of their brand platforms, thinking of the brand positioning, essence, point of view and developing creative to bring brands to life. We love this work and feel privileged to collaborate with brands, destinations and resorts, but we are often asked, “how do we know it’s working?” How do we measure the ROI of our investment?” How can we measure success on brand awareness campaigns?  What are realistic expectations of a brand awareness campaign? We’re lucky to have an expert in our midst and have tapped Chris Davidson, the managing director at MMGY TravelIntelligence for his insights.

Origin: As many brand awareness campaigns aren't driving to a conversion point, it's harder for clients to measure ROI or even measure its impact. What are some of the tools at our disposal to measure the impact of a rebrand for example?

Chris: First, I think the name “brand awareness” can be a bit misleading. Awareness is certainly an important metric, but I believe it’s more important to measure how behavior intent moves over time, how consumers perceive the brand, and how these perceptions differ from a brand’s key competitors. The most common tool we use to measure brand awareness and perceptions is an online survey of respondents who match the target profile for the brand. We will design and field a study at regular intervals to track how certain metrics change over time, such as awareness, affinity, purchase consideration, likelihood to recommend the brand, and barriers to purchase. Oftentimes, we field this survey prior to fielding the campaign and again immediately following the conclusion of the campaign to measure consumer recall, as well as how these other factors may have changed as well. But, in addition, we’re also measuring how respondents describe the brand, what adjectives they might use to characterize its personality, and how well the results perform against the original campaign objectives. Social listening and sentiment tracking using big data is also a smart way to track how consumers feel about a brand and about its competitors. This has the advantage of large samples, relatively low cost, and real-time results. However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the “why” as you track sentiment over time with this approach.

Origin: Many clients, when launching a new brand campaign (or re-branding), have the expectation that there will be immediate interest and a lift in the brand's overall desirability, awareness or share of voice. They've invested time and money in building it and now expect some quick wins. What is your experience with branding and how soon after a launch can a brand expect their audience to respond? When is the right time to measure success?

Chris: There are many factors that influence the immediacy and overall impact of a brand campaign, so there really isn’t a standard timeline for success. It depends on factors such as media budget/weight, reach, and frequency of the message in the market. It depends on how unique, creative, or innovative the brand messaging is. It depends on the type of audience the brand is seeking to influence and how many competitors compete for the same mind space. In general, though, building a brand takes time, and it takes consistency, to fundamentally alter how people view the brand and for what it stands. 

Origin: There are so many terms being used these days when it comes to KPI's. Can you expand and explain the following terms "brand lift", "share of voice" and "brand sentiment"? What other KPI's do you use when helping clients through this process? How do you choose which KPI's are best?

Chris: Of course…and, I agree it can be confusing! Brand Lift typically refers to the extent to which a post-campaign metric exceeds a pre-campaign metric. And, most often, this metric is the rating for overall brand appeal or affinity. Share of Voice (SOV) is simply the percentage you get if you were to divide the total media spend for a single brand by the total media spend of the entire market. The higher your SOV, the more likely your message will break through and effectively reach your audience. Brand Sentiment is really about the associations people make with your brand. It may be adjectives they use to describe it, how they rate it on a continuum, or what type of personality they may ascribe to it. A good brand has a clear voice, personality, and point of view. So, measuring brand sentiment helps a marketer determine how well consumers understand what the brand is all about. We also measure respondents’ perceptions of the importance of various brand attributes and how well they believe a brand delivers on these attributes. This allows us to map the results on an Importance-Performance grid to identify areas of focus, priority, and need.

Origin: When budgeting, what should a client set aside for research pre-and post launch?

Chris: The cost of this research depends on several factors. Who is the audience you’re trying to reach and how difficult is it to reach them and have them complete a survey. It’s much easier, and less expensive, to reach a GenPop audience (abbreviation for the general population) than it is to identify and survey a very affluent executive in a specific industry. How big a sample do you need to be able to do the backend segmentation analysis of the results. And, there are other factors as well. However, in the travel industry, I typically recommend a pre/post survey and these are likely to cost between $50,000 and $75,000 in total for the two studies.