You’ve Collected Your Brand Health Data. Now What?


As a marketer, you operate in a competitive environment—which means you need to understand what your current customer base and your target audience think your brand’s strengths and weaknesses are. The first step is to begin measuring the overall health of your brand with data. But how do you sort through all of the data you’re collecting to understand how your brand is performing and gain the insights you need to develop your marketing strategy?

In the same way that new approaches to collecting brand health data are constantly being developed, new trends and approaches to analyzing data are emerging. For many organizations brand health tracking—a way of measuring the overall strength of your brand and tracking its strength over time—is a significant resource investment in terms of both time and money. As a marketer, it’s important to understand current trends in analysis to make sure that your brand health tracker is providing the most value possible. And as a brand, it’s important to ensure that the data and insights are relevant and robust enough to guide marketing strategy. 

So, let’s take a look at the basics of analyzing brand data and at a few of the more advanced approaches that have demonstrated real value to the clients we serve here at Firewood.

The basics of evaluating brand health

Analyzing your brand’s health over time, in relation to your competitors, and within your target audiences are table stakes. Here’s a quick overview of these techniques and why they’re foundational to evaluating your brand’s health.

Changes over time

  • What it is: A brand health tracker is a survey designed to regularly spot-check your brand’s health. By comparing data from the most current wave to previous waves you can measure your brand’s health over time.
  • Why it’s valuable: Analyzing changes over time gives you insight into where you’ve made gains and lets you assess declines that need to be addressed. A comparison of data to previous waves can also help you evaluate the overall success of your marketing efforts.
  • What to keep in mind: Fluctuations that happen between one wave of the survey and the next can result from a variety of factors, such as changes in the sample or seasonality. However, trends that repeat over multiple waves should be taken more seriously.

Competitive set

  • What it is: A brand health tracker also allows you to take into account how your major competitors are doing.
  • Why it’s valuable: Analyzing your brand’s health in relation to your competitors allows you to see where they may be outperforming you and what perceptions are more closely associated with your brand versus theirs. Plus, it gives you a read on your competitors’ brand health over time. 
  • What to keep in mind: Be sure to do some desk research on your competitors to understand what may be impacting their results. For example, recent product launches or major marketing campaigns can shape the results you’re seeing.

Customer segments

  • What it is: Analyzing your data as a whole provides an overall view of your brand health, and slicing the data up by customer segment provides additional insight into how your brand performs with your target audiences. For business-to-consumer brands, this might mean organizing the data by different demographic groups. Business-to-business brands might consider dividing data by customer business size, job role, or industry.
  • Why it’s valuable: Understanding how your brand performs with each of your key segments is important for your marketing strategy. You may find that your brand performs better with a particular segment or that a competitor is gaining ground with a key audience.This insight allows you to revise messaging to address gaps or leverage advantages.
  • What to keep in mind: Depending on how many responses you’ve received, slicing your data too many ways may reduce the robustness of the findings. You don’t want to base crucial business decisions on a small base size.
Getting more out of your data

Driver analysis, perceptual maps, and analysis of open-ended responses are a bit more advanced, but they’re widely used techniques. We’ve seen clients get a lot of value out of these approaches, and it’s worth considering whether they’re right for your brand.

Driver analysis

  • What it is: Driver analysis can tell you what factors have the biggest impact on the outcome that matters most to your organization. For example, a driver analysis can help you determine whether price, ease of use, or a particular product feature is the biggest predictor of customer loyalty or consideration. 
  • Why it’s valuable: This type of analysis can help you understand what product features or brand perceptions are influencing the most important metrics for your business. And this is crucial information that can help you hone messaging. For example, you may find that ease of use is both a strength for your product and the biggest predictor of purchase intent. In this instance, messaging around ease of use should be prioritized in marketing campaigns.
  • What to keep in mind: Driver analysis may not be possible with all brand health surveys. In some cases the structure of the questions may not be compatible. For example, multiple choice questions with at least five options are better suited to driver analysis than those with two options to choose from (such as yes or no).

Perceptual maps

  • What it is: A perceptual map is a visual representation of your brand’s position in relation to your competitors’ on the attributes or perceptions that are most important to your business. In the example below, Brand A is perceived as both budget-friendly and easy to use while competitors are seen as more expensive or more difficult to use, or both.
  • Why it’s valuable: A perceptual map helps you understand what attributes your brand is most associated with and where your competitors lie on the same qualities. This helps you assess your position in the market. For example, if Brand A wants to be perceived as both easy to use and as a luxury product, they need to reassess their pricing and messaging. A perceptual map can also help you identify open space within the market. 
  • What to keep in mind: Perceptual maps should be done at the market, not global, level. And simple models like the one depicted above limit you to two attributes while ignoring others. More complex models can be built, if needed. 

Analysis of responses to open-ended questions

  • What it is: If your brand health tracker contains open-ended or free-response questions, it’s important to analyze that data as well. Natural language processing software offers an efficient way to get an overall read on a large amount of text. 
  • Why it’s valuable: The responses to open-ended questions can often clue you in to emerging trends. For instance, a brand may find that price is the most frequently selected response to a question about customer loyalty, but that many respondents are writing in a response to the “Other” option. If the write-in responses are similar, this indicates that more answer options need to be incorporated into the question set.
  • What to keep in mind: Analyzing open-end responses can be time consuming. It’s important to have a smart strategy that includes some early signals to help you determine whether the results are worth investigating further. One strategy is to only analyze the responses if more than 15% of survey respondents wrote one. This conserves resources for data that can be more meaningful.
Keeping your brand healthy

Brand health tracking is a major investment that can yield important and valuable insights to inform marketing strategy. Optimizing the standard approaches to analysis and incorporating emerging analytic techniques ensures you’re not only keeping your brand healthy but that you’re also making the most of your investment. 

Now that you’ve analyzed your brand data, here’s how to make it matter.

About April Huff, PhD

Director, Strategy April Huff, PhD leads our behavioral science practice working with clients to implement best practices from decision science into their marketing strategy. An expert in B2B research, brand health tracking, and customer segmentation, April spent nearly a decade as a social science researcher before turning her talents to marketing and branding.