Brand Health Metrics – Do They Matter?
Brand Health Metrics: Do They Matter?
In today’s fast-paced, competitive, and high-stakes marketing landscape, every brand faces a constant challenge to stand out and resonate.
Distinctiveness is essential; differentiation is irreplaceable. Brand health metrics can play a role in assessing the overall strength and performance of a brand within its market. Traditional wisdom holds that these metrics provide insights into how well a brand is perceived, recognised, and valued by consumers – making them essential for marketers and business leaders alike.
But are brand health metrics really as valuable as many marketers believe? And, more to the point, which metrics should you analyse for the most practical marketing insights?
These are the questions the System1 team aims to answer today. We’ll delve into some of the ‘essential’ brand health metrics every marketer should track, and explore some alternatives that may prove more useful. We’ll also examine the purported significance of brand health metrics, and how they impact a brand’s long-term success, before discussing ways to measure brand health effectively. Ultimately, we’ll showcase how System1’s innovative brand testing platform can empower your brand to unlock potential and drive sustainable growth in the future.
Let’s get into it.
What is Brand Health?
In marketing terms, brand health is like taking the pulse of your brand; it’s a comprehensive check-up that tells you how well your brand is performing, how resilient it is within the market, and how it’s perceived by consumers.
- A brand with positive health commands attention, admiration, and loyalty from consumers, who easily recognise and connect with it. This type of brand – think Oreos and Super Mario, Nike, National Geographic, or Corona – enjoy a loyal following, dance to the rhythm of market trends, and outshine competitors effortlessly. (Speaking of drinks brands, research shows that free drink sampling can have a markedly positive impact on brand health.)
Positive brand health means higher customer retention, an ever-growing market share, and an unshakable competitive edge.
But let’s flip the script – what does negative brand health look like?
- Low-health brands struggle to find their place or their rhythm. These are the brands that lack recognition, fail to ignite passion among consumers, and fall short of making an impact. Resultantly, they may witness declining sales, shrinking ESOV, and an uphill battle to stay relevant.
Used right, brand health is more than just data – it’s a toolkit for strategic decision-making. It helps businesses spot opportunities for improvement, seize untapped potential, and navigate turbulent competitive waters.
The Typical Components of Brand Health
Before we get into the traditional elements of brand health, it’s worth saying: some have been shown to carry less value than previously believed, and industry leaders give us cause to say goodbye to brand tracking as we know it.
In other words, marketers may place varying degrees of emphasis on these components, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining brand health. Nevertheless, several key components typically contribute to a brand’s health assessment, which we’ll explore below.
Market share is often seen as a critical factor in brand health, as it directly reflects a brand’s competitiveness and success in the marketplace. A growing market share indicates positive brand health and a strong position in the market. When a brand gains a larger share of the market, it means more consumers are choosing its products or services over competitors’ offerings.
Take for instance Cadbury’s, which consistently introduces new products while investing in long-term brand-building. As a result, its market share steadily increases over time.
Brand awareness measures how well consumers recognise and recall your brand. High brand awareness means people can easily identify the brand when presented with cues or stimuli – as espoused by Byron Sharp in How Brands Grow, a large part of the heavy lifting here is done through distinctive brand assets, such as the M&Ms ‘Spokescandies’, or Guinness’ ownership of its distinct colour palette and harp logo.
Alternatively, brand asset strategies might include taglines or jingles – research (The Sound of Brand Building) shows that audio elements can be incredibly powerful in terms of building a brand. Ultimately, strengthening brand awareness is crucial for gaining new customers and retaining existing ones.
Brand equity represents the value and power a brand holds in the market. It’s the result of customers’ perceptions, experiences, and associations with the brand. Positive brand equity drives purchasing habits, and a front-of-mind position among audiences. Brands with strong equity can command higher prices, enjoy higher retention, cultivate a wider share of the market, and generate more favourable word-of-mouth recommendations.
The work of Sharp, Binet and Field (The Long and the Short of It), and our very own Orlando Wood among others, has cast doubt over how important brand positioning really is. Indications suggest that availability, in both a mental and physical sense, is more influential than any consumer perceptions of ethos, values, or vision.
With that said, many marketers do still place stock in ideas of brand positioning, and so it’s worth touching on here.
Brand positioning defines how a brand is perceived in the minds of consumers, relative to its competitors. Strong brand positioning is seen as alignment with target audiences’ worldviews, thereby creating an affinity and influencing purchasing decisions.
Similarly, brand image is the overall perception consumers have about a brand. It’s shaped by experiences, consistent advertising, and interactions. A positive brand image fosters trust, credibility, and emotional connections with customers. Brands with a strong and positive image are more likely to elicit positive emotions.
Again, contemporary thought leadership suggests that a focus on expanding customer base, availability, and a frictionless pathway to purchase are more important in brand health than customer loyalty. However, many marketers still invest huge amounts of time and energy into cultivating it. The thinking is this: loyal customers become brand advocates and contribute to sustained business growth.
Why Measure Brand Health?
Whether or not you subscribe to traditional pillars of brand health, or you align your strategy with more modern concepts like fame and familiarity (more on that later), finding a way to quantify brand health is a strategic imperative for any brand looking to thrive.
Essentially, it’s a matter of predictiveness. Tracking brand health allows brands to not only measure but accurately anticipate ad performance, both at a wider brand level and in individual campaigns – both in the long and the short term.
Measuring brand health enables you to make more informed decisions when it comes to brand building and advertising. Tracking brand health metrics also allows brands to be proactive, as well as more reactive: responding to market changes, dynamic events, or positive/negative perceptions, for instance. This visibility and agility is important in guiding your brand consistently toward growth.
What Factors Can Influence Your Brand’s Health
Brand health is a delicate interplay of various influencing factors, including:
- Marketing communications
- Corporate activities
- Market events
- Media exposure
- Feedback and reviews
- Social engagement
While some of these are within your sphere of control, it’s worth staying mindful that others are beyond it – but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage.
The timing of major sporting events, for example, is not within the remit of snack or toy companies. But a proactive strategy enables brands like LEGO or Lay’s to react to events like The World Cup; meaning their brand-building efforts gain extra traction and make sense within a wider cultural moment.
Insights into the impact of these elements don’t necessarily require pricey or ongoing brand tracking programs – a more efficient and practical approach is to deploy brand research instruments at strategic times. This enables you to capture real-time data on how your efforts and external market events are influencing your brand’s trajectory.
By striking this balance, you can proactively steer your brand towards sustained growth and success.
For more information on the future of brand tracking, read our blog post: ‘Say Goodbye to Brand Tracking As You Know It’.
The 3 Fs – The Core Brand Health Metrics You Need
A quick Google search reveals a litany of supposedly-miraculous brand health metrics; various figures, readouts, and indicators that will show you – this time, for real – how healthy your brand really is. You might, for instance, come across a combination of the following. Bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive:
- NPS (Net Promoter Score)
- Purchase intent
- Brand equity
- SOV (share of voice)
- Traffic-driving keywords
- Unprompted recall
- Preference in category
- Brand uplift
- Time on site
… and so on. You get the picture.
Not to say that all of these metrics are for the birds; SOV, recall, and brand equity, in particular, have some value. It’s just that trying to keep across myriad health metrics is not an optimal use of your time. You’ll end up drowning in stats, or juggling figures that seem to contradict each other, or spending so much energy determining your brand’s health that you never actually work on improving it.
In other words, traditional brand tracking is not efficient. Which is why we developed a superior method: introducing, Fame, Feeling, and Fluency.
Successful brands come to mind easily.
|Also known as the ‘availability heuristic.’ Put simply, people like what they know and, through habit, audiences tend to stick with the brands they’ve encountered before. This underscores the importance of keeping front-of-mind.|
Successful brands feel right.
|Surplus Feeling predicts future market share; if a brand has a large excess of Feeling, relative to its size, it will grow. Also termed ‘the affect heuristic,’ audiences tend to gravitate toward those brands that make them feel something. Importantly, Feeling is more about depth of impact than simple positivity.|
Successful brands are instantly recognisable.
|Known in the business as ‘the processing fluency heuristic.’ The most successful brands are consistent in their tone, messaging, and audio/visual appeals, leaning into fluent devices and distinctive brand assets to connect the dots across ads and campaigns and lay the foundations for long-term growth.|
A Word on Share of Search
At the 2020 Effworks Global Conference, hosted by the IPA, Les Binet (co-author of The Long and the Short of It) debuted a new brand health tracking metric, called ‘share of search’ (or SOS).
“Over the past 30 years, I’ve found that the relationship between tracking metrics and actual purchase behaviour is often surprisingly weak. By tracking share of search we have a powerful, not to mention cheap, metric to measure what people are actually doing online, rather than what they say they are doing.”
The idea is for advertisers to keep an eye on their Google search frequency, as a key metric for gauging their brand health and future market share. As a concept, it is deceptively simple yet immensely powerful.
By calculating the ratio of searches for your brand to the total searches across your industry, you can swiftly and cheaply obtain a predictive indicator of your brand’s performance.
Consider it an “early-warning system for brands,” empowering you to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the curve.
Brand Health Metrics with System1
You can determine your brand’s Fame, Feeling, and Fluency using the System1 platform. Our brand tracking tool puts the reins of brand success firmly in your hands by:
- Yielding insights into factors influencing your brand
- Predicting its current and future performance
- Highlighting strategic actions to boost health and fuel growth
With this innovative solution, you unlock the key to understanding your brand’s dynamics. As a predictive and empirical brand health solution, it opens the door to more informed decisions, new opportunities, and a competitive market edge.
One way we interpret our analysis is through Star Rating; an innovative and dynamic predictor of your brand’s long-term success. By meticulously gauging the emotional response to each ad, Star Rating quantifies creative quality and growth potential.
- 1.0 = Low
- 2.0 = Modest
- 3.0 = Good
- 4.0 = Very Good
- 5.0 = Exceptional
Spike Rating, on the other hand, reveals your short-term sales potential in the critical 8-10 week period following the airing of your ad.
- 1.00 & below = Low
- 1.00 – 1.09 = Modest
- 1.10 – 1.18 = Good
- 1.19 – 1.32 = Strong
- 1.33 & above = Exceptional
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that short-term sales are only about persuasive messaging; in fact, emotional impact matters in both short and long-term business success.
It’s just that the type of emotion you need to monitor is different. Short-term spike is less about the specific emotion, and more to do with the intensity of that emotion.
The Bottom Line on Brand Health Metrics
In today’s cutthroat marketing arena, where differentiation is key, brand health plays a pivotal role in gauging and predicting your performance. Brands with positive health capture attention, admiration, and market share, while low-health brands struggle to make any impact, facing declining sales and market relevance.
Our ad testing tool, Test Your Ad, and concept testing tool, Test Your Idea solutions offer swift ways to predict short and long-term commercial potential, ensuring creative concepts make an impression on consumers and drive profitable growth.
And to complete the picture with insights into Fame, Feeling, and Fluency, Test Your Brand, our brand monitoring tool, measures ad and idea impact on your overall brand health, unveiling opportunities for improvement and untapped potential.
So as for the question – do brand health metrics matter? – we can answer, ‘yes.’ However, the secret to real growth and long-term brand-building is to strategise your marketing activities based on the concepts of:
These three, above others, are the metrics that will guide your brand to a more profitable, impactful future.
Contact us today to start your brand’s journey toward 5-Star marketing.