What is Brand Tracking? [Expert Methods & Guide]

Sometimes brands aren’t sure how they are perceived by their customers or the market in general.

Plus, with social media and different ways customers engage with brands, these sentiments can change a lot over the course of even a day.

Brand tracking can help measure this type of uncertainty.

Brand tracking research provides real-time insight into the ever-changing attitudes, behaviors, and opinions of the customers and prospects of an organization. The study helps you keep a true and continual pulse of the consumer. 

Our brand tracking market research company will cover what a brand tracking survey is, the uses for conducting this type of study, the benefits of doing so, and more.

Article Contents 📝

What is brand tracking?

Let’s face it. Nothing lasts forever – and that includes the data collected from your last market research study. 

The purpose of a brand tracking study, also referred to as a brand tracker survey, is to collect information over time (monthly, quarterly, yearly) by means of generating and measuring data on an ongoing basis. 

This allows organizations to;

  • Regularly identify trends
  • Make comparisons to competitors
  • Detect warning signs early on before they make a lasting impact on the business

And so much more!

The more that businesses can ask for feedback from customers, prospects, or the general public, the more they can understand what marketing strategies have worked and offered the best return on investment (ROI). 

Better yet, tracking studies for brands helps with making important business decisions based on hard and true facts, rather than just guessing.

Regardless of what it is you are measuring or who you are surveying, brand tracking studies depict a wave of changes in the market over a period of time. This insight is far superior to a snapshot of a sample of people at one point in time.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Brand tracking allows businesses to measure key metrics over time. This promotes accurate benchmarking and can aid with important branding moves. 

How often are surveys conducted for brand tracking?

There is no hard and fast rule for how often a company should run a survey as part of a tracker study. Most commonly, our clients conduct a survey monthly, quarterly, or annually. 

It mostly depends on the goals and objectives for conducting a tracker study, as well as the industry your business is in.

Example #1

For example, a bank or credit union may be more inclined to run a monthly tracker study to review the rates, promotions, and trends of competitors.

These offerings are the main decision factor in why customers or members choose a financial institution. They are also offerings that are constantly changing.

For this reason, it is most helpful for banks and credit unions to have updated information in the form of a monthly tracking study or an ongoing competitor rate analysis

Example #2

In another example, the audience can determine how often you run a survey for continuous measurement and tracking purposes.

An employee survey using a third party is more likely to be conducted annually, while a consumer behavior survey is more likely to be conducted quarterly.

If you are unsure how often you’d like to survey your audience, a market research partner such as Drive Research can recommend the best approach based on your objectives, audience, and budget.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Tracking brand awareness through surveys is something that needs to be done more than once to be effective. This can range from a monthly to a yearly basis, depending on the needs of the company.

How can my business benefit from a brand tracker survey?

What is better than executing an ad-hoc market research study? Conducting marketing research regularly to track the performance of your business. 

In this section, our marketing research company dives into exactly how your organization can benefit from brand tracking.

Benefit #1: Successfully meet goals and objectives 🎯

Successful businesses are built on creating goals and objectives that are challenging to reach. It is necessary to define the desired achievements and identify the specific actions it will take to meet these goals. 

Oftentimes, businesses share general, common goals among areas of profitability, customer satisfaction, community awareness, retention of employees, and so on.

What is the best way to achieve these goals? By tracking your progress and key benchmarks on a continuous basis. 

In other words, these areas or aspects of a business should be evaluated and compared to one another as time goes on, whether this is monthly, quarterly, or yearly check-ins.

This not only helps businesses track their current progress in meeting their long-term goals but also showcases which areas of their business have improved year over year and which areas need closer attention.

Benefit #2: Benchmark data ✔️

Benchmarks in market research are measurements or data that you compare to your own scores, industry scores, or best-in-class scores to understand the context. A statistic on its own is just a data point unless you know how it compares.

While a market research company can easily share where your scores line up with competitors, the industry as a whole, and best practices brands - the best benchmark is yourself. 

Each new tracking survey is like a yardstick. Your first survey in a brand tracker study becomes your baseline. It provides key measurements to compare future survey results. 

See where your organization has improved, what areas you can still improve upon, and how the customer or employee satisfaction has changed.

This allows your organization to focus on improvement month over month or year over year instead of staying stagnant.

Benefit #3: Identify problems in real-time ⚠️

When consistently monitoring customer satisfaction, your company will likely receive criticism or negative feedback at some point.

While receiving these types of reviews can be frustrating, it is necessary to help improve the value of products and services. 

By regularly measuring feedback from target audiences, you are able to address concerns and problems in real time. Case management is a major part of improving the value of market research now.

For instance, say you conducted a customer survey in December. You find that overwhelmingly customers who bought your product in February and March were not pleased with their experience.

Now, it’s been 8 to 9 months since you collected their feedback, and it might be too late to take any action to examine customer churn.

Benefit #4: Understand how internal changes impact business 📈

One of the most significant advantages of continuous performance monitoring and tracking is access to a regular stream of data. This helps accurately measure how internal organizational practices influence consumer behavior and purchasing decisions. 

Think of modifications you’ve made in staff roles, locations of service, product or service offerings, and so on. Are customers more or least satisfied since you’ve made those changes? 

Brand tracking studies provide businesses with key insight into how changes they’ve made directly impact the behaviors and mindsets of their customers or prospects. 

Benefit #5: Update survey questions 🆕

As the feedback evolves from a brand tracking study, so can the questions asked in the survey. Executing continuous research allows for slight changes in the survey document to address more pertinent business questions.

For example, brand tracker surveys may subtly address immediate concerns like a new competitor being introduced to the market. Or how COVID-19 impacts consumer purchasing decisions.

Brand tracking market research offers flexibility and on-demand data, unlike more long-term market research studies.

Benefit #6: Determine the success of marketing and sales campaigns 📣

A brand tracker survey can help answer a broad range of topics as well as specific business components such as marketing and advertising.

Because this type of market research is not a one-and-done study but rather a wave of customer insights, your business can easily evaluate the impact of marketing campaigns or sales tactics. 

There are several high-level marketing analytics commonly used to determine the success or failure of marketing efforts. Think, link clicks, impressions, and reach. However, does this accurately tell the entire story? 

As mentioned previously in this ultimate guide, tracking studies can share insight into changes in awareness, perception, likelihood to purchase, and other key performance indicators.

For example, if a marketing campaign resulted in a less than 1% growth in new leads but grew awareness of your company by 25% among your target market - did the marketing campaign really fail?

Maybe the impact of the advertising campaign is longer term.

This type of insight cannot be delivered from digital marketing platforms but can be measured through brand tracking studies.

Benefit #7: Gain a competitive edge♟️

Regularly tracking your brand gives you a leg up when conducting competitive analysis.

The best competitive intelligence context you can gather in the study is by including a competitive set of approximately 5 critical organizations. 

These would be organizations you consider your core competitors based on:

  • Scale
  • Offerings
  • Target audience 

Additionally, we can look at competitors from an audience perspective. This can identify organizations competing for a share of wallet (donations) or as trusted sources for health information. 

In addition to measuring your own KPIs, you can also see how metrics for competitor KPIs fluctuate based on recent news, marketing, press, and so on. (e.g., example 1, if awareness went down, these other 5 competitors also decreased, example 2, our perception went up while our 5 core competitors remained stagnant).

Benefit #8: Save money on market research 💸

Depending on the market research company that executes your brand tracker study, you may receive a discount when signing up for multiple surveys.

For instance, our market research firm offers our clients discounted rates if they want to conduct a survey on a regular basis. 

The reason is that when signing off on a package of 3 or 4 surveys, the cost per survey is reduced.

For example, suppose your company plans to run annual employee surveys.

In that case, it will be more cost-effective to ask a market research firm for a 3-year contract, rather than paying for each survey individually every year.

This concept is similar to most subscription services you see.

Let’s use Amazon as an example.

You can pay $12.99 a month or $119 for an Amazon Prime membership for one year.

If you plan to keep your membership for 12 months, the latter option will save you money in the long run.

Being that brand tracking studies are run on an ongoing basis, it makes more sense to sign up for an annual package and save costs on market research.

💡 The Key Takeaway: This type of research provides a tremendous amount of benefits for a brand. Businesses can determine campaign successes, resolve issues, and save money all through tracking. 

What are the “must-have” metrics for brand tracking?

We have a systematic approach to brand tracking, metrics to address, and the flow of the metrics. 

Here are the must-haves (for both your brand and 5 core competitors):

  • Top-of-mind brand awareness (unaided)
  • Awareness (aided)
  • Perception (positive, negative, neutral)

We’ll also calculate the perception score (similar to NPS, this is the difference between % with a positive score and % with a negative score and ranges from -100 to +100).

Below are additional details that will be measured: 

  • Word associations or drivers to perception
  • Familiarity with the brand (sub-programs)
  • Brand attributes (how well each brand resembles attributes/core values)
  • Source(s) of awareness (although recall/source amnesia is real in market research, it is directionally good to track)
  • [If use] Net Promoter Score (NPS) (those who donate time/$ to non-profits can be very passionate about the cause and share with others, so although you may think NPS is relegated to other industries, it’s not a bad fit for non-profits either)
  • Drivers to NPS

Demographic/segments cuts are also key as they can help understand what is driving a metric up or down wave to wave:

  • Age groups/generations
  • Regions of the country (Northeast, South, Midwest, West)
  • Income levels/discretionary income
  • Urbanicity

What is the process of conducting a brand tracker study?

The main difference between a brand tracking study and an ad-hoc market research project is that a tracking survey involves multiple stages, whereas an ad-hoc study is one and done. 

For the sake of this ultimate guide, we will break up a tracking study into two phases.

A majority of the legwork happens in phase one. This is when the survey is written, programmed, and fielded. 

Let’s dive into the exact process our market research company follows when conducting a brand tracker study.

Keep in mind that a brand tracker survey can be fielded within as little as 24 hours.

Although we talk at length about our process, Drive Research works as quickly as you need us to.

Phase One of Brand Tracking

Step 1: Receive a Proposal or Quote 📄

If you do not already have a dedicated market research partner, you will likely price shop with multiple vendors to learn about their costs and processes. It’s helpful to create a list of questions to ask your market research vendor.

If you do have a dedicated market research partner, it is still in your best interest to request a proposal from other firms. Just because you are used to a particular vendor does not mean they are the best option. 

When new clients reach out to Drive Research for a brand-tracking survey proposal or quote, they typically include:

  • How often they’d like the survey to be run (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
  • The audience they would like to survey
  • Specific screening criteria to qualify the audience
  • The geography or market you’d like to conduct the survey
  • How many survey responses they would like to collect (or we can provide a recommendation)

With this information, our team quickly works to create a custom proposal.

Our market research proposals include:

  • Objectives for the tracking survey
  • Our approach to completing the tracking study
  • Timeline 
  • Costs

This will provide your organization with a clear understanding of what you can expect when working with our research team.

Quickly create a market research request for a proposal with our free, easy-to-use template.

Step 2: Kickoff meeting 🏈

After signing the proposal, Drive Research will create a dedicated project team. This can include a project manager, a research analyst, and a research assistant.

It is important for our market research company to provide a point of contact for all of our clients. 

Once the project team is formed, they will schedule a kickoff meeting with the chosen stakeholders of your organization. The kickoff meeting is a half-hour to hour phone call.

The purpose of this meeting is to learn more about the objectives, audience, and other specifications of your tracking study.

The more we learn about your objectives, the better we’re able to create data-driven survey questions to reveal the most sought-after insights. 

Step 3: Designing the tracker survey 🎨

Next up, designing the tracker survey questions. Believe it or not, quality survey writing comes with years of experience.

While it may seem easy to create a survey, there are many ways to bias the results with just a simple word change.

Brand tracking research can provide your organization with a wealth of customer or consumer data and insight. If structured and designed well, online surveys will offer high-quality feedback.

However, if your survey is written poorly, it will warrant inaccurate results.

When designed by a third-party market research company...

  • Survey results will not be biased or vague.
  • With each phase of your tracker survey, you will have in-depth recommendations for how to take action with the results.
  • Additionally, our market research company designs a tracker survey with your objectives in mind. Every survey we write is unique. We do not take a cookie-cutter approach. 

After writing your brand tracker survey, Drive Research sends the drafted brand tracker questions to your team. This is your chance to make any edits or suggestions before the survey is programmed into our online software.

This is your chance to make any edits or suggestions before the survey is programmed into our online software.

It is important to our team that both parties are happy with the survey questions respondents will be answering.

Step 4: Programming the tracker survey 🕹️

Once the tracker survey is written and approved by both parties, the Drive Research team starts programming your survey.

What exactly is involved in programming an online survey? Lots!

After the survey questions and response options are added to the software, we perform rigorous programming checks to ensure the survey works as intended.

A testing link is created and sent to all parties of your dedicated research team to review. Our market research company likes having multiple people reviewing a programmed tracking survey because no mistake is left unnoticed. 

Before sending the test link to the client, our team checks for common programming errors such as:

  • All question types are correct (i.e., if the question is a single response, the respondent should only be allowed to select one answer before moving to the next question). 
  • All questions offer a “none of the above,” “not applicable,” “unsure,” or another option to skip if needed.
  • All piping questions are working as intended.
  • All respondents are redirected to the right place after completing the survey.

Once given the go-ahead, the client receives the testing link to review the tracking survey as if they were a respondent.

The client is able to make any comments and request any changes.

Step 5: Sending the brand tracker survey to fieldwork 🚀

Phase One: Soft Launch 

Let the fun begin! When launching an online survey, our market research company always recommends a soft launch or sending it to a small sample of your total respondents.

For example, if you are surveying 1,000 respondents, then Drive Research will first launch the survey to 50 people. This is one of the most essential brand tracking tools. That said, this is a key step in any research process.

Doing so acts as one last quality check for your first tracker survey.

As responses start to come in, our team will make sure all survey programming is working properly.

Imagine waiting until collecting the full 1,000 responses to realize a major programming error. Talk about wasting time and money.

Most times, the soft launch checks out and the full tracking study is underway.

Phase Two: Full Launch 

During the full launch, our market research company provides our clients with a live data link. This link shows you up-to-the-second survey results to monitor progress or simply see the data out of curiosity. 

The client portal can show both results by all responses or by any demographic breakdown, such as age and gender.

To see an example of what a live data link may look like, click here.

Step 6: Reporting 📊

The last step of the first phase of a brand tracking study is reporting. This stage is where our market research company compiles, cleans, and analyzes all of the data.

Drive Research uses this insight to start drafting a research report. In our world, it is how we tell the brand’s story and recommendations for improvement. 

A market research report is much more than charts and numbers.

Yes, this deliverable will present your organization with insights and facts gathered from the tracking survey - but, it also has a level of interpretation. 

It is important for Drive Research to not only share the data but explain what this means and how our clients can use it to move their business forward.

In other words, it helps translate insights into action items.

The recommendations we share in a market research report are completely unique to the client, their objectives, and their goals.

This deliverable is the greatest asset to a market research study.

At Drive Research, our standard reporting package includes 3 separate core deliverables:

  • 24/7 live passcode-protected online portals. Here is where you can view up to the second responses (see an example here).  The portals display question-by-question results tabulated into charts and graphs and granular data such as reviewing open-ended comments. We will also design several cross tabulation portals (see an example here). These will showcase comparison data by critical segments we’ll align with your team on (e.g., age groups, regions of the country, household income levels, etc.) The portals also allow you to date-filter responses if you want to look at specific weeks/months for event impacts.

  • Full PowerPoint report. This report includes a summary of critical themes and insights in an executive summary format with supporting data visualizations. It will also include a scorecard with critical KPIs and metrics from each wave of the tracker with deltas to track ups and downs. Several scorecards can be designed based on aggregate results, sub-segments, competitive battle cards, etc.

  • Banner file with significance testing. This file can be used to not only understand overall results at a glance but compare critical segment differences. Statistical significance testing helps the user understand what differences are outside of the sampling norm/margin of error and which are not.

Other potential add-ons:

  • Text analytics reviews open-ended responses and categorizes them into themes/codes and adds a sentiment score (-1.0 to +1.0 to indicate negative, neutral, or positive).

  • Perceptual mapping. Graphically displays ACS on a matrix of core brand attributes against competitors. The matrix scales 2 factors, such as the level of agreement on 2 attributes or other factors on the X & Y axis.


💡 The Key Takeaway: Phase one of brand tracking deals with obtaining the survey key information. This sets the stage for ongoing research, as seen in phase two. 

Phase Two of Brand Tracking

Step 1: Changes to survey 💭

After the first phase is completed, we move forward with the future installments of the brand tracking study.

Before sending the next survey (whether it be the following week, month, or quarter) our team will evaluate if there should be any changes to the survey document. 

Your dedicated project team will also contact you to decide if there are any new questions you would like to include or replace. 

Because a brand tracking study is an ongoing market research project, there is likely new information you’d like to understand as the year progresses.

There may be a top-of-mind objective such as a new competitor in your industry that you would like to ask respondents about.

With this being said, it is important to remember the goal of a tracking study: to track key performance indicators over time.

For this reason, each survey should always include the same questions that measure this type of data. Any updates to the survey are typically one-off questions.

We employ our own 80-20 rule for brand tracking studies:

  • 80% of the questions should remain static and core KPIs to track over time.
  • 20% of the questions should be swapped out to tackle ever-changing behavior and gather new insights.

Step 2: Survey fieldwork 🚀

Similar to the first phase, future surveys will be launched into fieldwork after any programming updates need to be made.

This includes both a soft launch and a full launch. 

As always, you will have access to the live client portal to see real-time responses. See instantaneous insights as soon as a question is answered. 

While respondents are completing the tracking survey, our team will be behind the scenes cleaning the data and performing quality checks.

If your team signed on for a 1,000-respondent package - you would receive 1,000 responses from real people (no fake survey bots) every time. 

Step 3: Reporting 📊

Again, the last stage in any market research project is reporting.

Depending on the reporting level you signed on for, your team will receive a topline or comprehensive market research report. 

Additionally, your dedicated project team will schedule debrief meetings to walk through the new findings and market research report, page by page. This makes sure no question is left unanswered for your team.

💡 The Key Takeaway: There are two key phases when it comes to brand tracking research. Phase one deals with gathering the data, while phase two deals with altering future renditions of the survey. 

Benefits of brand tracking

In our experience with market research, a brand is only as strong as its relationship with its customers. That’s why it’s so important to listen to them (and on a regular basis too!).

Brand tracking projects can gather customer’s responses, help analyze the trends, and give insights on what customers love, hate, and everything in between.

This is what allows companies to improve their products the best, by getting This enables you to improve your product or service in line with customers’ needs and wants.

Brand tracking also helps companies:

  • Keep a pulse on overall reputation & marketing performance
  • Compare to competitors or others in the industry
  • Test new ideas, strategies, and more
  • Uncover new areas of expansion and improvement

By having brand tracking in place, it’s possible to track the performance of your brand over time (whether it’s marketing, reputation, or any other KPI you want to watch). Brand tracking allows for real-time processes as well to help flag issues or problems customers might be having to solve problems before they become bigger issues.

💡 The Key Takeaway: Brand tracking will allow your brand to stay healthy and relevant to customers and allow your team to adapt your marketing strategy and brand strategy along with it. 

Example questions to include in a brand tracking survey

As a market research company, our team knows the importance of including the right type of questions in a brand tracking survey.

Even if your organization chooses to conduct the study in-house, or with another partner, we wanted to share some great examples of tracking survey questions.

In this example, we will use Amazon as the sponsor of the study.

Q1: Which website(s) come to mind when you think of online shopping? List up to three websites.


Q2: What features are most important for an online shopping website to have? Select up to three.

  1. Easy to navigate
  2. Affordable items
  3. Wide variety of options
  4. Detailed product information
  5. Quality images of the products
  6. Quality videos of the products
  7. Other (Please specify)

Q3: List a few positive words you associate with online shopping websites. Enter up to three words.


Q4: List a few negative words you associate with online shopping websites. Enter up to three words.


Q5: Which of the following online shopping websites do you regularly visit? Select all that apply.

  1. eBay.com
  2. Overstock.com
  3. Walmart.com
  4. Amazon.com
  5. Zappos.com
  6. Etsy.com
  7. Other (Please specify)
  8. I don’t regularly visit online shopping sites

Q6: Based on your knowledge, what is your perception of the following website(s)? Select a rating for each.

[Show websites visited regularly only]











Q7: On a scale from 0 "Not at all likely" to 10 "Extremely likely" how likely are you to recommend Amazon.com to a friend, family member, or colleague? Select a rating.

Q8: How would you rate your level of satisfaction with the online experience at Amazon.com? Amazon.com is... 

[Insert scale from "Much worse than others" to "Much better than others."]

Q9: [If online experience rated the same or worse] How could the online experience at Amazon.com be improved? Enter your response below.

Q10: How frequently do you make purchases from Amazon? Select one.

  1. Once a week or more often
  2. Two to three times a month
  3. Once a month
  4. Once every 2 to 3 months
  5. Once every 4 to 6 months
  6. Less often than every 6 months

Q11: How likely are you to make a purchase from Amazon in the next 30 days? Select a rating.

[Insert scale from "Not at all likely" to "Very likely."]

Contact Our Brand Tracking Market Research Company 

A brand tracking study can help take the guesswork out of market fluctuations or dips in sales by providing continuous and fresh insight into any industry and target audience. Let our team help!

Drive Research is a national market research company located in New York. Our experts have the knowledge and tools to design a robust brand tracking study, to deliver real-time data for your organization fast.

We have worked with brands such as Amazon, Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, Toyota, and more.

Contact Drive Research by filling out the form below or emailing [email protected].


emily carroll about the author

Emily Rodgers

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Senior Marketing Manager. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


Online Surveys