4 ways to test your brand

Posted on October 13, 2014
4 min read

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Even if your brand messaging is clear and consistent, that doesn't mean your audience hears the right message.

Understand customer and audience perception with brand testing

A strong brand message helps to build trust and loyalty, differentiate your organization from competitors, and communicate the value of your products or services to the market. Consistent and powerful branding includes much more than logos and slogans—it comes to life in every customer interaction, piece of collateral, product, name, symbol, and design your team puts out into the world. So how can you tell whether your assumed brand identity—the one you define in your brand guidelines—differs from actual customer perceptions? The answer is brand testing. 

Here are four things you can easily test using UserTesting’s Human Insight Platform

1. Test brand awareness

Brand testing is conducted similarly to ad testing—with the key difference of trying to find out how your audience responds to your overall brand presence rather than one campaign. 

What do they think about your industry?

Before you start testing your brand, you need to take a step back and consider how your target demographic perceives your industry in general:

  1. What do they think and know about your industry?
  2. When your industry is mentioned, do they think about your organization?

You can find answers to these points by asking participants what qualities or words they associate with your industry and to name organizations that come to mind when they think about the space. This will tell you if you’re currently top of mind for your target audience and where you rank compared to competitors. 

Brand awareness test templates

2. Test brand association

Once you understand what your target audience thinks about your industry, it’s time to see how familiar they are with your organization and brand.

What do they think about your organization?

The goal in this step is to find out what assumptions your target audience already has about your brand, without any influence from your website:

  • Are they familiar with your organization?
  • How do they describe what you do?
  • Have they seen your advertisements? If so, what do they remember about them?
  • What adjectives or qualities do they associate with your organization?
  • How do these differ or align with how the industry is generally perceived?
  • Would they become a customer or member if they aren’t already?

Brand association test templates

3. Test brand perception

Next, it’s time to determine how your brand comes across through your website. This can be achieved by asking users to share their first impressions of the site’s visual identity—including the homepage, logo, colors, and fonts—and which emotions or words they associate with each aspect.

Is your story communicated clearly on your website and beyond?

Strong and thorough brand guidelines are a good way to ensure that your brand comes across consistently and thoughtfully, but how users feel about your brand is a different story. This small test can confirm whether your organization and users are on the same page about your brand guidelines.

Brand perception test templates

4. Test brand consistency

After testing how your brand appears on your website, the final step is to see how consistently it’s communicated across all platforms, including apps, social media, ads, and marketing collateral. The goal here is to understand where users see inconsistencies and to determine which channels communicate your brand most effectively. 

Brand consistency test templates

Use human insight to your brand's advantage 

It’s one thing to update your branding to be more consistent across platforms, but what happens when the insights show that customers perceive you differently from how you perceive yourself? 

There are a couple of paths you can take. The first would be refining your branding and running new campaigns to convince customers that you’re different than what they think. Trying to appeal to a younger audience, showing that you are embracing new tech to improve the customer journey, or busting myths about a product are all examples of brands looking to evolve their image and get new customers on board.

Another option is to consider what your customers tell you and lean into it. Are you the standard or exception to the rule in your industry? What separates you from your competitors? What sticks in customers’ minds? Brand testing can provide new perspectives on all these points. Chances are you already have a fair idea of these USPs, but maybe there’s an opportunity to make them a focus of your brand in general. Do customers love how user-friendly and intuitive your app is? Then maybe your branding can reflect this—with a clean and simple design and a conversational tone of voice. 

Marketers are responsible for both protecting and cultivating the organization's brand. Insights can be a powerful tool to ensure consistency and improve the strength of your brand. After all, you need to work out your message before you shout it from the rooftops!

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