How To Measure Brand Awareness In B2B

Brand awareness research measures the extent to which customers, prospects and the general public are able to recognize and recall a brand.

It is the first step in engaging potential customers/clients and is often the most crucial. Measuring brand awareness, noting how readily the brand comes to mind and monitoring how this changes over time can be a very effective way of measuring the overall health of a brand. Although brand awareness research has been a mainstay of consumer marketing for generations, B2B marketers are increasingly discovering the value of monitoring this vital metric.


How we measure brand awareness

During a typical brand health tracking study, brand awareness is measured in 3 different ways:

  • First mention (or “top-of-mind” recall)
  • Spontaneous recall / spontaneous awareness
  • Prompted recognition / prompted awareness

Measures of spontaneous brand recall

The first two brand awareness measures are open-ended questions where the survey respondent is invited to write down the names of brands they are aware of. It is extremely important to make sure that the respondent is clear on exactly what product/service category you want them to answer for.

Examples from a B2B brand awareness research study:

Q1. When thinking about manufacturers of industrial vacuum cleaners (vacuum cleaners designed for use in the workplace, including construction sites, factories and workshops), which is the first brand that comes to mind?


Q2. Can you name any other manufacturers of industrial vacuum cleaners?

  1. _________
  2. _________
  3. _________
  4. _________
  5. _________
  6. _________
  7. _________
  8. _________
  9. _________
  10. _________

It is usually a good idea to include a brief description of the category first to make sure. The imperative of being specific about the category is especially important in B2B markets, where there may be subtle, but critical, variations in terminology and taxonomy. Using the example above, you can well imagine that if we just asked about manufacturers of vacuum cleaners we might get a very different list of brands being recalled.

Making it onto the list of brands recalled spontaneously shows that the association between the brand and the product/service category is strong in the respondent’s mind. Being the first brand (or ‘top of mind’ brand) that comes to mind in a product category is a huge advantage, as it shows that your brand dominates the association with that product/service category. The most successful brands can even become synonymous with their category.

Even just making it onto the list of brands recalled is an important step. In most B2B brand awareness studies, respondents will only recall an average of about 3-4 brands (although this can be higher when talking to specialists).

This explains why competition for headspace is often fierce, as winning a place within someone’s mental shortlist generally means knocking another brand out.

how to measure brand awareness in b2b


Measuring prompted brand awareness

The third type of brand awareness is measured differently. The respondent is presented with a list of brands and asked to identify those they are familiar with. Ideally brands should be shown as they are seen in the market, with the logo appropriate to the B2B market you are surveying.

This measure is much less powerful as an indicator of association with the product/service category being tested but is an important part of the larger picture of B2B brand health.


Q3. And from the list below, which other brands of industrial vacuum cleaner manufacturers you have heard of…

  • Dust Control
  • Faip
  • Ghibli & Wirbel
  • Kärcher
  • Kirby
  • Nielco
  • Nilfisk
  • Numatic

Comparing spontaneous recall and prompted brand awareness

Looking at spontaneous recall (including first mentions / top of mind awareness) against prompted brand awareness can give us some broader insight into how the brand sits in the market.

How to measure brand awareness - Recall / Awareness Matrix

[Click to enlarge]

  • Brands with high levels of spontaneous recall and prompted awareness are generally market leaders.
  • Brands displaying relatively high levels of spontaneous recall but low levels of prompted awareness are typically specialist brands that might be industry leaders for a sub-category of product or service. An example might be the leading manufacturer of ride-on vacuum cleaners.
  • Brands with high prompted awareness but low spontaneous recall typically fall into two categories:
    • Marquee/crossover brands, those that are better known for products/services in other categories
    • Defunct brands that are still recognized despite not being a big player any longer – possibly as a result of re-branding or

Brands with low scores for both are generally weak but may be an emerging player / challenger brand. This is one of the reasons it is important to track b2b brand awareness measures over time

If you have any questions or would like us to help you measure your brand awareness, get in touch.
+187 220 44533