Branding is a meeting point of various business and artistic activities such as marketing communications planning, design, advertising, product presentation, or storytelling, to name a few. Research and measurement are usually not among these. They should.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What to measure for the most valuable insights?
- What benefits can a company achieve by investing time and minimal resources in measurement?
As a marketing and data science professional, I have been involved in several branding and rebranding projects. Before getting started, I would like to share a typical scenario of how brand management happens among startups and small-medium businesses.
How does branding work in most businesses?
Usually, a lot of theory and little to no research goes into conceptualizing or redesigning a brand. Business owners and other stakeholders have their ideas, marketing professionals suggest other things, and artists have a vision for something different.
To get the project done and to minimize boardroom conflicts, the final concept will be a strange blend of all initial ideas, compromised in various aspects and a total gamble when bringing it out to the market. At least the management likes it.
Fast forward 6-12 months, the same company will be looking for answers to why their marketing activities return lukewarm results, why their target audience ignores their advertising, and why potential customers are confused about their positioning.
In most cases, trying to save time and money on proper research will cost more short, mid, and long term. The opportunity cost (missed revenue) will be mounting as time goes by, advertising campaigns will need more and more resources to remain effective, and a new rebranding will be inevitable soon to get things right.
What to measure to improve brand concepts, branding, and brand communication strategies?
There are a wealth of things a company can measure about their branding but, in most cases, smart brand management strategies require the following things to know:
- Brand awareness
- Brand perceptions
Measuring brand awareness lets you know which segments of your target customers are most or least aware of your company. By key segments, we mean location, demographics, and various sets of relevant interests. Let’s say young moms in New York don’t know about your baby care products, only moms who have older kids – if you manage marketing for a babycare company then you want to know such things.
Large corporations partner with global market research companies to track and measure multiple dimensions of brand awareness across a large number of segments.
Similar solutions are available for businesses with a budget, starting from a few hundred dollars for research.
It is fairly simple to measure brand awareness. Let’s say a target customer segment in a particular region is 100,000 people. You take a sample of 2% (which is 2,000 people) asking them if they know your brand or not. The larger sample you take, the more accurate insights you will get. Your result will be like 21% is aware, and 79% is unaware of your business.
If you already know among whom your brand is the most and least known, then you also want to know what people think about it. Do your target customers have a positive idea about your company? Do they understand what your company does, or perhaps they didn’t buy from you because your positioning was miscommunicated?
Most companies tend to monitor reviews and customer satisfaction surveys to understand brand perceptions, which will naturally show high satisfaction rates – perfect to highlight in management meetings. This is fundamentally wrong. Customers of a company had been already convinced. The focus should be on potential customers who already know the brand but did not yet engage with it.
Some people might not like the tone of voice, others will dislike your ads, some might be confused about your brand positioning. It is important to be aware of any issues.
Similar to brand awareness, brand perceptions can be measured with targeted surveying. Questions can include what they like or dislike about the company, would they purchase from the company – why or why not? Anything that sheds light on what can be done to improve brand perceptions.
Reputation management is quite mature online, with a large number of tools available to scrape and summarize reputation-related information. You will be surprised to know that online reputation is just the tip of the iceberg. Around 99% of personal conversations will not appear online, especially not on social media or review sites. People have a lot more and deeper opinions than what they share online. It is important to be aware of these to fix any reputation issues.
Groups of people might never buy from your brand because they have an opinion, even if they never expressed it online. Such opinions can be measured as well with surveys.
What benefits can a company achieve by investing time and minimal resources in measurement?
In more professional corporate environments, branding, marketing communication, and product presentation are managed based on data and continuous research. The quality and utilization of brand and marketing-related business intelligence make a significant difference in overall marketing and business effectiveness.
Today, market research is not only for large corporations. From a few hours and a few thousand dollars of investment in research, any company can acquire good-enough business intelligence to navigate successfully.
Better targeted brand-building efforts
By measuring brand awareness, you can understand which segments you should focus your marketing budget on.
More purposeful marketing communications
By understanding brand perceptions among various groups of target customers, you will have a better idea about what to communicate segment by segment.
Better brand management overall
By tracking reputation aside from publicly available online information, you will gain valuable knowledge regarding what people like and dislike about your company.
With these insights, brand and marketing communications planning can be made a lot more effective and profitable.
Cover image source: September20th