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The most important metrics and KPIs measuring brand performance

By Magda Adamska / 14 April 2020 The most important metrics and KPIs measuring brand performance

We first published this post in January 2018 and since then it has become one of the most popular articles on BrandStruck. This version attempts to attach different brand KPIs to each stage of the brand funnel (awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and advocacy), while placing a stronger emphasis on the metrics recommended by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science (in particular, brand salience and the strength of distinctive brand assets).
To ensure that not all KPIs are treated equally, as some of them are much more important than others, we evaluate their importance on a scale from 1 to 5, where 5 is very important and 1 is not important.

It’s not uncommon, even for the big and otherwise well-managed brands, to measure too many metrics of little relevance, and thus not put enough emphasis on the ones that matter. For example, measuring the engagement level on your social media platforms in likes and shares or the virality of your videos expressed in YouTube views doesn’t mean much from the business perspective, unless you are able to determine to what extent (if at all) these metrics can positively affect your revenue.

Measuring your brand’s performance is not about the number of likes or even the amount of traffic on your website. It’s about understanding the process of how your consumers, clients, viewers or financial supporters make purchasing decisions in your category (e.g., cars, soft drinks or streaming services), and in which part of that process you can increase your chances of being selected as their brand of choice.

Today, we will take a look at the most useful quantitative brand metrics, which measure brand performance at each stage of a decision-making process.

Stage 1: Awareness

a) What you want to find out

Do your (potential) customers remember your brand?

b) Key performance indicators (KPIs) and their importance (1-5)

– Top of mind (TOM) brand awareness – 3
– Spontaneous brand awareness – 4
– Prompted brand awareness – 3

c) How can these KPIs be measured?

To measure TOM and spontaneous awareness, you should use unprompted questions. For example, “When you think about smartphones (TV channels, charities etc.), which brands come to your mind?”.
For prompted awareness, you need to present a respondent with a list of brands and ask which ones he or she has heard of.

The percentage of respondents who mention your brand first (unprompted) gives you your brand’s TOM awareness (e.g., 20%).
The percentage of people who mention your brand unprompted, but not necessarily first, is your spontaneous awareness (e.g., 60%).
The percentage of people who recognize your brand on the list is your prompted awareness (e.g., 80%).

d) Caveats

Even relatively big brands can have very low TOM awareness (0 to single digits). However, you have a bigger problem if your brand’s prompted awareness is low, which for a mainstream brand is 60% or less.
The scientists from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute often accentuate the fact that brand awareness is not an exhaustive metric on its own. It only measures the percentage of people associating a specific product category with your brand, whereas there are many other buying cues (than just the product category) with which the brand should be associated and against which it should be measured. The brand salience metric (see next section) is more comprehensive.

Stage 2: Familiarity

a) What you want to find out

Does your brand come to mind in various buying-related situations and is it easily recognizable?

b) KPIs and their importance (1-5)

– Brand salience – 4
– Strength of distinctive brand assets – 4

c) How can these KPIs be measured?

Brand salience is a less popular metric (also more complicated to measure) than brand awareness but is increasing in significance. If you want to learn more about this KPI, we recommend that you read this scientific paper written by Jenni Romaniuk and Byron Sharp from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.
The Institute defines brand salience as “the propensity of the brand to be thought of by buyers in buying situations”. It can be measured by presenting the respondents with a randomized list of cues and attributes and by asking them which brands they associate with each statement. The statements depend on the category and should be thoroughly researched first (all of them should be relevant in buying situations). Some examples might include “when I want to eat something quick and healthy” (for casual dining restaurants), “I know I will not overpay there” (for supermarkets), “it takes great pictures” (for smartphones) or “it’s perfect as a gift” (for chocolates).
The scientists from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute emphasize that brand salience should not be associated with one selected cue or attribute, but should relate to a bigger picture, taking into account the quality (“how fresh and relevant”) and quantity (“how many”) of the cues / attributes. It is also important to note that brand salience shouldn’t be measured for your brand only, but also for those of your competitors.

The other important metric is the strength of distinctive brand assets (various branding elements including logotypes, fonts, colours, packaging shapes, taglines, jingles, brand icons and others). In one of our previous posts, we explained why distinctiveness is so significant, if the brand wants to grow.
The strength of distinctive brand assets can be measured by asking respondents whether they recognize particular branding elements, and with which brands they associate them.

d) Caveats

The higher the brand awareness (and the market share), the stronger the brand is on almost every dimension. Smaller brands, even with distinct positioning, usually perform worse on all attributes, including their USP. For mainstream brands, the focus should be on growing the overall profile over time, making sure that the brand performs well (quality) across a number of relevant cues (quantity).
When measuring the strength of your brand assets, it is important to ascertain whether your branding elements are clearly associated with your brand. If any of them are associated more with your competitors than with your brand, you need to focus your marketing efforts on linking those brand assets back to your brand.

Stage 3: Consideration

a) What you want to find out

Do your (potential) customers want to buy your brand?

b) KPIs and their importance (1-5)

– Purchase intent – 3

c) How can these KPIs be measured?

Simply ask whether people would consider purchasing your product or brand.

d) Caveats

In most cases, this metric is positively correlated with sales. However, if this is not the case (people say they want to buy/sign up to/support etc. your brand, but your financial numbers do not seem to reflect this intent), a more in-depth analysis is required to explain the discrepancy. For example, people may want to buy a certain brand, but, then, at a point of sale, decide to go for something cheaper or are unable to find it due to limited distribution.

Stage 4: Purchase

a) What you want to find out

Do people buy your brand?

b) KPIs and their importance (1-5)

– Sales volume – 5
– Sales value – 5

c) How can these KPIs be measured?

How many items have been bought, and of what value. This is the only metric, which you don’t need to measure with research – it’s your real data, not people’s declarations.

d) Caveats

It’s crucial to know all factors that may have influenced your sales in a chosen period, and how much “the brand factor” mattered compared to the other factors (e.g., extended distribution, new pricing).

If your company can get this one right (easier said than done), you are top brand management experts and everyone should be learning from you. It’s that rare.

Stage 5: Advocacy

a) What you want to find out

Would your customers recommend your brand to their friends?

b) KPIs and their importance (1-5)

– Net Promoter Score (NPS) – 2

c) How can these KPIs be measured?

Asking people how likely they are, on a scale from 0 to 10, to recommend your brand to a friend. Respondents giving your brand 9 or 10 are called promoters, 7-8 are called passives and 0-6 are called detractors. To calculate the final result, you need to subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. If you have 10% distractors, 70% passives and 20% promoters, your NPS is 10 (20-10).
It is also possible to have a negative NPS.

d) Caveats

NPS could be useful in high-value categories, (e.g., cars), in which people tend to act less impulsively and ask for the opinions of others before committing to a purchase. However, don’t ever use NPS as a metric predicting brand loyalty, as the science proves (according to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute) that brand loyalty is simply a derivative of the brand’s size.

If you need help with research or want to hire Magda for a brand project, email her at

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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.

BrandStruck ithe only online database of brand strategy case studies.
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