No (logo) awareness, no glory

‘No awareness, no glory’. These almost prophetic words often cross my mind. Sponsor awareness is the driver of sponsorship impact and, as such, an important KPI for sponsors. The reason is obvious: if you don’t reach your audience with your sponsorship, you can’t expect your carefully crafted message to hit home. No awareness, no glory, in other words. Which is why sponsorship awareness measurement needs to get as close to reality as possible.

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By Aiko de Bruijn

For years, sponsor awareness has been measured in more or less the same way. Sports fans are given a list of brand names and asked to say which brands they associate with a specific sport or event. But the name is by no means the only communicator of brand identity. Just think of Heineken’s iconic green bottle on the Champions League stadium boarding and Shell’s red-and-yellow logo on the Formula 1 Ferraris: sponsors communicate with far more brand elements than their brand name alone. So, in addition to the name, wouldn’t it be interesting to also use these other brand elements as a yardstick of sponsor awareness?

At Blauw, we are committed to making the advice we give to our partners a little bit better every day. That’s why we recently put this idea to the test by conducting a pilot alongside our global Champions League research. One group of respondents was, as usual, given a set of brand names, while the other group was only presented with the logos of the same brands. It turned out that taking a logo- rather than a name-based approach to sponsor awareness yielded some intriguing and unexpected insights.

Different outcomes were found for no fewer than seven of the twelve brands with Champions League associations. The logo produced a lower sponsor awareness in a few cases, but mostly the awareness was higher. These sponsorships, therefore, have a different – and usually greater – reach than sponsors assumed so far on the basis of the traditional name-based measurement method. In one case, the logo-based sponsor awareness actually turned out to be 50% higher (an increase of 10 percentage points) than based on the brand name. Formerly we would have advised this sponsor to: ‘work on your sponsor awareness’, but now – given the strong link between brand logo and event – we would say: ‘your sponsor awareness is absolutely fine, your priority now must be to deepen the relationship with the fans you are reaching’. And what’s also interesting for this sponsor (besides knowing that their sponsorship reach is higher than previously thought) is the fact that the brand logo actually evokes stronger links with the Champions League than the brand name.

Compared with the traditional sponsor awareness research (based on brand name alone), the measurement of ‘sponsor logo awareness’ can lead to major new insights and, hence, different sponsorship decisions and priorities. Considering the many millions invested in sponsorship, this is clearly no small matter.

Moreover the logo is an important, if not the most important, element by which consumers recognize products, particularly in the FMCG sector. So a strong recognizable connection between your brand logo and your sponsorship can be a key factor in determining whether a fan picks up your, rather than your competitor’s, product from the supermarket shelves. This – besides obtaining a more accurate picture of your sponsorship reach – makes measuring sponsor logo awareness even more relevant.

So what’s our advice? First of all, decide which brand elements, such as your logo, matter most to you as a sponsor. And then measure how successful you have been in linking these brand elements to your sponsorship. Not instead of, but alongside the brand name. Both are vital. Because the more accurately you measure your sponsor ‘awareness’, the more effectively you can pursue the road to ‘glory’.

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