Myth 1: Building Awareness Is a Clear, Single-Minded Aspiration

If we wanted to focus on building awareness of a brand, we could buy large billboards across the nation and plaster our brand name upside-down on them in garish colors. Brand awareness would soar, but we would have failed to move the brand’s personal relevance, its quality of awareness. In other words, we would only be impacting and measuring one form of awareness, the quantity not the quality.

While building the quantity of awareness might seem useful by itself, it is deceptively simple because we would not have shifted people’s perceptions of the brand. The advertising would not have reinforced the brand’s equity that underpins its competitive standing, enabling it to withstand competitive assault or help convince prospects believe it’s a brand worth paying more for.

Quality of awareness is critical to ensure a brand’s competitive importance, and brand attributes are a strong measure of the quality of awareness. Brand attributes represent the quintessence of the brand. They distil the brand identity both in terms of its physical character and personality traits. For instance, these might cover the brand’s personal relevance, integrity, competitive distinctiveness, and perceived marketplace value.

In short, any brand awareness measure needs to track both the what of the brand, but also the why. This ensures the awareness metric reflects both the brand’s literal and implied meaning and makes it more purposeful in a competitive marketplace.

Quality of awareness is a powerful metric – typically, it can strongly link to brand preference, the KPI that often is the most powerfully predictive attitudinal measure of market share. In their book, Accountable Marketing, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, MASB, show that together with distribution and price, brand preference typically explains 87% of a category’s market share over the midterm.

In any brand survey, the discriminating power of brand preference, sometimes referred to as first choice, is because we ask the consumer to select one brand above all other brands, and, as such, we can view the metric as a proxy reflecting most purchase or usage decisions.

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