Your Guide To Brand Measurement
With a new year comes a new way for many companies to streamline their approach to measure the success of their brand. Rather than relying on vanity metrics such as followers or fans, more and more organizations now want to analyze brand-centric metrics. While some firms took this approach in recent years, it is becoming the new normal in 2018.
In tandem, slowly but surely, media monitoring is becoming less relevant. Volume of clips is being replaced by the quality of coverage and conversations. Does it really matter how many times a brand is mentioned in media, if those references don’t contain something meaningful that explains how the brand is perceived?
For example, knowing the number of people who use the word confidence in relation to a brand isn’t useful without a context – are they expressing confidence in the brand, or perhaps a lack of confidence? Why? This type of analysis can be used to inform future strategy.
In 2018, the barometer of success points to widespread understanding by targeted audiences of a brand’s attributes – a set of characteristics that identify and represent the essence of the brand. This is key for brand managers, but more importantly, for the board and executive team. They recognize that measurement of brand metrics can help drive future business decisions.
Brand attributes vary across companies, depending on business goals, the industry, the marketplace and many other factors. Across the board, however, members of the C-Suite want to know the impact of their brand’s communications efforts on their organization, stakeholders, consumers, other audiences, and media channels.
As a result, many brand managers are looking for analytics that help them interpret the words or phrases that people associate with their brand – for example, words such as innovative, inspirational, integrity, consistent, thought leaders and market leaders, or expressions that portray satisfaction, confidence, loyalty and trust.
And they need to know, as soon as possible, if words are being used that indicate a pending crisis, so it can be averted or mitigated.
Brand managers also are interested in how their brand is discussed in relation to reputation, customer service, industry topics (i.e., Cloud, big data, AI, jobs or mobility), and their products and services. They also want to know if their company is recognized for corporate responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.
According to a study by Cone Communications, “78% of Americans want companies to address important social justice issues; 87% will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about; and 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.”
Obviously, purchase interest connects to the bottom line and therefore is critical to members of the C-Suite, who also want to ensure the corporate reputation is protected, crises are prevented or assuaged, and the customer experience leads to brand preference and loyalty.
None of this data is provided by a clip count or vanity metrics. Rather, it is revealed with brand metrics, which can be analyzed for strategic insights and recommendations to give to senior leadership.
Five Brand Metrics that Matter
As mentioned in a previous post, an abundance of metrics sometimes makes measurement more bewildering. The best practice is to choose brand metrics that align with your business goals and communications programs. In other words, use only the metrics that matter, not all metrics, to demonstrate brand success in media coverage and conversations. Here are five to consider.
- Brand Message Pull-through: Analyze the stories and conversations that contain your brand messages and their positioning to determine which ones are used the most frequently and why. This critical metric helps you to make sure key messages resonate with your audiences and, if needed, help you decide how to revise them to reach a wider or more targeted audience.
- Brand Attributes: Set up a word cloud to see the words or phrases that people associate with your brand – as mentioned earlier, confidence, trust, innovation, integrity, leadership, satisfaction, loyalty, customer service, etc. Word clouds can also be examined to gauge purchase interest, discussion about your corporate responsibility initiatives, and awareness of your products and services. Determining why the words are used is crucial to your analytics.
- Brand Reputation and Perception: Evaluate a word cloud for the volume and context of positive and negative words associated with your brand. This will help you learn what drives positive and negative coverage, and whether it affects reputation. During a crisis, this information can influence your strategic reaction. When a word cloud is combined with sentiment, this is a powerful metric.
- Brand Preference and Recommendations: Use a complex search string to search for words (such as best, prefer, or recommend) and find out when and why people state a preference for your brand or recommend it to others. This metric forms the cornerstone of positive brand recognition and reputation, unveiling a preference for your brand over others, or better yet, stating that your brand is best. Study the endorsements over time to see what is being said about your brand and by whom. And, of course, cultivate these advocates for your influencer outreach program.
- Competitive Intelligence: Examine Share of Voice charts to determine who has the largest voice among competitors on key topics for your brand and industry. But more importantly, mine the results to find out what messages, positioning and activities contributed to your competitors’ share of voice and why. Did they hold or sponsor a popular event? Was there a backlash to one of their initiatives? Did they launch a new product or issue a company statement that unleashed a reaction? Gathering knowledge about your competitors can identify their strategies and tactics, discover any missed opportunities, and uncover potential future opportunities.
By setting up an analytics program based on brand metrics instead of vanity metrics, you will be armed with information about your audiences and your competitors. Understanding your audiences’ reactions to your brand helps protect your brand reputation as well as plan for the future. Customizing the best brand metrics enables you to make data-driven business decisions; identify, avert or alleviate a crisis; and ensure your messages are relevant.
This new year brings the opportunity to harness the power of brand intelligence to recognize the impact of your communications efforts on your company, stakeholders and other audience segments.
My next blog post will look at specific ways to pull and parse brand-centric data for these five brand metrics that matter.
Margot Sinclair Savell is an award-winning writer who has decades of experience crafting and editing content. During 15 years at agencies such as Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Weber Shandwick, she specialized in strategic counsel for measurement, insights and analytics. In 2016, she was inducted into the PR Measurement Hall of Fame.