Why Brand Awareness is Vital for Business Growth
The great thing in the world isn't so much where we stand. As in what direction we are moving. — Oliver Wendell Holmes
I’ve always been fascinated by early explorers. The idea of an explorer heading out into the great unknown seemed like a fantastic adventure and left open a world of possibility.
Equally fascinating is that even the earliest explorers used tools to navigate their way through the unknown. For example, a mariner’s compass was used to identify direction, the astrolabe to determine latitude, and later, the sextant improved on latitudinal measurements. By the 13th century, sailors realized maps could be helpful and began keeping detailed records of their voyages.
The Right Tools for the Right Time
Today, modern business owners are explorers of sorts. They must navigate the uncertain waters of their industry, contend with challenges such as competitors vying for the same business, and respond to changing market conditions.
The tools they use might be more sophisticated than early explorers, but modern business owners use their own version of the sextant, compass and maps to navigate their way through their landscape. The most powerful of these tools include analytics, research and qualitative insight.
Although modern business owners have a wide variety of data sources at their disposal, when it comes to critical understanding of how their organizations are perceived in their markets, they often operate with little to no insight.
Many organizations believe they have an adequate understanding of how they're perceived in the competitive landscape because they have anecdotal evidence from talking to their customers or loosely collected data in-market. Others deprioritize brand awareness efforts because they don’t fully grasp the potential benefits. In reality, operating without understanding how the market truly perceives you across major customer touchpoints is like trying to cross an ocean without navigation tools.
Benefits of a Brand Awareness Study
Done right, a brand awareness study can provide crucial insight into your organization’s market positioning. It typically includes fielding a survey to the market that assesses how your brand is perceived relative to competitors across touchpoints, such as:
- Price: Perceived cost (e.g. inexpensive to expensive)
- Quality/Reliability: Perceived quality/reliability of your product and/or service
- R&D Capabilities: Perceived research and development (R&D) capability of your organization
- Service: Perceived service capabilities/level of service
- Relative Value: Relative overall value compared to competitors
- Marketing: Perception of overall marketing
- Sales: Perception of overall sales experience
- Others as defined by client
At the end of this process the client will end up with a set of insights that can be utilized within departments across the organization to both benchmark and assess its current market position, as well as identify areas for improvement that can have a substantial and immediate impact on the bottom line, both in revenue growth and cost savings.
The benefits of having this data are:
- The ability to drive annual budget allocations and measure ongoing improvement: Identify areas of investment at the start of budget season and measure the impact of those investments in future market assessments.
- The ability to identify problem areas: Assess where you might have an internal problem with a customer-facing division. For example, if your organization’s service division is performing poorly, it may be disrupting customer loyalty, costing you referrals, and generally damaging your brand.
- Provide you with a competitive landscape map: A brand awareness assessment will provide you with a competitive map of how you stack up against your competition, both on a macro (overall) and micro (single customer touchpoint) level. This insight will be invaluable in helping you strategically plan how to overtake the competitors in front of you.
It's possible for an organization to conduct this research on its own, however, there are benefits to engaging with a third-party research firm. They include:
- Audience: An organization can typically survey only its own customer base, which will lead to participation bias — i.e., one’s own customers will be biased to their own organization and the resulting insight will not be reflective of overall market perception.
- Market Research Expertise: The right partner will have market research expertise that will be critical in crafting survey questions, ensuring accuracy of the data, and interpreting findings, all while maintaining objectivity.
- Drive Survey Participation: Industry participants are more likely to participate in, and provide candid responses to, a survey when it comes from a neutral third-party research company than from an industry vendor.
Tools Can Make All the Difference
Although a brand awareness assessment may not always be at the top of an executive’s priority list, when done right, it can provide critical insight that can drive revenue growth and cost savings, provide a competitive advantage, reduce inefficiencies, and uncover problems in their infancy before they grow into significant issues. No explorer should be without proper tools, whether crossing the ocean into the unknown or navigating the uncertain waters of industry.
Nathan Safran is vice president, research, NAPCO Media, a B-to-B media company serving the printing & packaging, marketing, retail, non-profit, publishing and promotional products industries. Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss conducting your own brand awareness study.
Nathan Safran is Vice President, Research for NAPCO Media. Nathan is a former Forrester Research Analyst with deep experience designing custom research solutions that solve client business problems. Nathan works with the subject matter experts across NAPCO’s brands to design research solutions that leverage NAPCO’s engage audiences and provides deep insight. Nathan is a frequent speaker at industry events and his research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Fortune Magazine.