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Competitive Intelligence: Brand Recall

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on Competitive Intelligence.

Most companies will conduct user testing of their products, where they watch customers use their product to learn more about how they work. Fewer companies do user testing of their competitors products, but if you aren’t already you should start. It’s an invaluable way to understand how your product works compared to your competition’s!

However, user testing will only help you understand a customer who already chose between you and your competitor. What you really want to know is how you compare in the minds of customers who haven’t yet made a choice, so you can ensure you are positioned favorably in their minds. This requires a data-driven approach, because you need a very large sample of potential customers to avoid misleading conclusions.

Collecting this data is done by surveying your customers, and there are two common forms: brand recall and brand recognition.

What is Brand Recall?

In a brand recall survey (aka unaided recall), you present respondents with a market or problem and ask them to rank list all the brands, products, and companies they know that match. The rank list is very important, as it tells you about which companies have the strongest position in the minds of people considering the space.

For example, if we wanted to test the brand recall for the Data Driven Daily we might send a survey with a question like the following:

Please list all of the newsletters that you know of that discuss the use of data in business:

  1. __________________
  2. __________________
  3. __________________
  4. __________________

If the Data Driven Daily consistently appears in the #1 slot, we are doing well! If it appears further down the list, or not at all, we know our brand is not well-positioned against the other entries we see.

By aggregating the results across all respondents, you can measure how your company measures up against the competition in the minds of potential customers. You can also measure the respondent’s interest in your market by the number of responses they provide. They may provide a dozen answers to something they care about, but only two or three for something that they don’t find interesting.

What is Brand Recognition?

In a brand recognition survey (aka aided recall), you present the respondent with a brand or product and ask them to tell you everything they remember about it. This is a great way to tell if your marketing messages, value proposition, and differentiation are clear to potential customers. Typically you would conduct brand recognition surveys for both your company and your competition in order to compare what people remember about each.

You can combine brand recognition and brand recall surveys by asking for more information about each item mentioned in a brand recall survey, but success depends on how much time you can expect your respondents to spend on your surveys.

Designing these surveys and analyzing the results are fairly straightforward, but the results are an invaluable look inside the minds of potential customers. If you need any help in building your brand surveys for both recall and recognition, see our series on Survey Design.

Tomorrow we’ll look at a different kind of competitive metric: pricing.

Quote of the Day: “We have all forgot more than we remember.” – Thomas Fuller

The Competitive Intelligence series