Woolrich and brand health research: how to assess the health of a brand with the help of people

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Brand health research certainly means assessing the health of a brand. But what does it really mean? 

We could compare it to a love story between a brand and the people: with this analysis, in fact, we assess how much this has entered their minds and hearts, how positive the experience they live is, and how healthy this relationship is. How can you measure a love? Hard to say in everyday life, but for a brand the question becomes easier. At TSW, we have identified evaluation parameters based on theories regarding brand image and perception, and we have measured them scientifically with the help of people, obtaining objective data, that is useful for companies that want to sit down and listen, like Woolrich, in order to know at what point in their journey they are, what strengths to maintain and what weaknesses or gaps to fill. To be loved a little more each day. 

Brand health research: what is and how is it measured 

As we said, literally “Brand health research” is the evaluation of brand health, an umbrella term that refers to all those parameters that reflect the value of a brand in the market, how much it is loved by its current customers or known by its potential ones. However, to fully understand what it means to assess the health of a brand, first of all it is important to reflect on the concept of health itself. 

Usually, when we talk about health, we refer to a condition of general efficiency of an organism1. This condition is evaluated based on specific parameters, just like when we take our car to be checked by our trusted mechanic, who will measure the oil level, the tire pressure, the functioning of the brakes and, in general, whatever is needed to understand if it can continue to function optimally. Having good health therefore implies that the parameters used for this assessment meet certain basic standards, or even surpass them. 

But let’s go back to the brand: are we sure that it’s enough to look inside the brand – as the mechanic does with the car – to really understand its state of health? Not only we asked ourselves this question, but we also gave ourselves an answer: no, because brand health is not only made up of oiled mechanisms, clean filters and fuel. The value of a brand is also, and above all, given by the perception of the people. 

This is also what we did with the Woolrich team: we found out how their brand is and how loyal and satisfied their customers or fans are. 

How to collect data for a good brand health research? 

The first question that we must ask when it comes to brand health research is one: how do we collect and where does the data that will answer our questions come from? The answer is much simpler than you might assume: as we said just above, data comes from people 

By looking at these people, listening to them, you can understand their perception about the brand, the product, the shopping experience. Thus, these are the most important data: the experiences. Who can provide such important feedback, if not those who use, or more generally, live the product/brand? 

By then using their responsesopinions and suggestions, it is possible to obtain a pool of data that gives value to people’s experiences and reflects what is the health of the brand. Our methodology typically involves four activities:  

  • On field survey, that is a questionnaire on the field. 
  • Social sampling survey, that is a questionnaire launched with the help of social networks. 
  • BARTT, a test that measures the spontaneous associations of people. 
  • Search monitor: a listening activity on how people search for the brand on search engines. 

Each of these gives us different information that completes the picture of the health of the business. Let’s look at them in more detail. 

We listen to people with a traditional on field survey 

In the case of Woolrich, a first level of experience analysis was conducted with a traditional survey. This methodology involves the use of a structured questionnaire that aims at understanding how the brand is positioned in terms of awareness, engagement and performance: 

  • In our survey, awareness is the ability of participants to remember or recognize the brand in a spontaneous or solicited way in different contexts2. In this sense, we evaluate how much participants are aware of the existence of the brand in question and, more generally, how well known it is at a population level, how much it is impressed in people’s minds: this allows us to develop ad hoc strategies to increase awareness if the level found is not adequate to expectations. Another important piece of information to fully understand how well known the brand is comes from the identification of competing companies and the comparison with them. 
  • We then evaluate engagement, an index that measures how emotionally and rationally connected participants are to the brand. It can happen to everyone to have a favorite brand in relation to a type of product or service, which is the first undisputed choice at the time of purchase. This is what engagement evaluates: how much we are attached or tied to a brand, whether it is because of technical features or an aesthetic preference for its products, or because of an emotional experience associated with it. This defines an engagement, a bond between the buyer and a company, which may decide to nurture these relationships by taking special care of them. 
  • The last index relates to performance, i.e. all those aspects that lead to purchase. One of the most important is the level of customer satisfaction: a satisfied customer will be more likely to develop a good association with the brand and therefore more inclined to purchase/use or repurchase. A second important factor that affects performance is the longevity of the quality perception and satisfaction (evergreen vs trend). The more satisfaction lasts over time, the more the positive perception is reinforced, and consequently the link with the brand will become deeper, increasing, as a result, the other indices.  

The social sampling survey to investigate the effectiveness of a communication campaign 

The second step of this survey is a social sampling survey, a methodology that mainly collects quantitative data, but if necessary, also qualitative. This type of analysis also consists of a questionnaire, that this time, however, is administered online to a sample of social network users, or even on Google if we want to expand the research, to investigate the efficiency of a communication campaign on these channels, evaluating both the parameters of the previous survey and the sentiment of the brand.

Brand health research - Woolrich

Also, this time, we identify the affective link between person and brand, with the additional advantage that those who fit the ideal profile for the survey and are reached by the sponsored post, provide an opinion spontaneously. This fortifies the result in terms of credibility and reliability of the answers. In this case, the questionnaire allowed us to identify indices, such as the memorability of the campaign, familiarity with the brand, their opinion and the willingness of people to recommend it. 

BARTT: measuring the implicit associations of the people 

A further piece of data that can be collected to implement brand health research comes from neuroscience and in particular from BARTT, a Brand Association Reaction Time Task, a test that records the strength of the associations that people create with the brand by measuring their reaction time in response to the stimuli provided. To learn more about this type of test, here is an in-depth article by Luca on IAT and BARTT. 

The idea behind this type of survey is to observe the strength of associations between the brand and specific concepts connected to it. With this tool, given a set of values chosen together with the company, we can see if people have developed associations between these values and the brand – reflecting their perception of it – and how strong these associations are (i.e. with low reaction times). By going to evaluate these connections, we get a reflection of what the perception of the brand is.              Going back to the love story, then, we find out how in tune people are with the brand, how intense the connection is.

Brand health research - Woolrich

The Search Monitor research to understand the research intent 

Our analysis concludes with a final step, the search monitor research. In this step we try to identify which are the ways in which people search for the brand online, with what specific terms, and more generally how they interact with it online. By looking at the way they search, we can understand a lot of what they think about it or what are the ideas and intentions that lead them to do that kind of research. In this sense we can identify 4 different moments of analysis: 

  • Clustering: refers to the grouping of all those keywords that define the intent of the person doing the research. In this way, we can identify which type of words is associated with which type of intent and with the brand being analyzed. 
  • Positioning: this phase identifies the positioning of the analyzed brand in the SERP with respect to the identified keywords. 
  • Share of Voice: we identify how much visibility the brand has, according to the clusters analyzed, when compared with its main market rivals. 
  • Keyword Gaps: lastly, we identify the possible presence of important words in people’s search mode, but for which the brand under analysis does not appear. 

All of these levels of analysis provide us with the ability to understand how people think about the brand when it is online, how they search for it and in what terms, what spontaneous associations arise in the search phase, and which dimensions are most interesting. 

These four phases of analysis lead us to outline a clear picture of how the brand is perceived by people, whether they are customers, current and potential, or customers of competitors. Then, coming back to our metaphor: lovers, friends and potential indifferent people or detractors. Understand people’s perceptions, listening to them, helps us to take a picture of a company’s brand health and allows us to advise our client on which areas to focus in order to improve the relationship with its customers or to strengthen a relationship of trust or to establish a new one. 


  1. Enciclopedia italiana Treccani, definition of the term “health”. 
  2. Rossiter, J.R. (1987). Advertising and Promotion Management. New York: McGraw-Hill Series in Marketing. 
  3. Kumar, Jitender; Nayak, Jogendra Kumar (2019). “Brand engagement without brand ownership: a case of non-brand owner community members”Journal of Product & Brand Management. 28 (2): 216–230.


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1 September 2021 Luca Martorano

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