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Scoring Your Company’s Brand Health

Posted by Margot Sinclair Savell on March 27, 2018

More than 60 percent of a company’s valuation is tied to brand reputation, so it is not surprising that building and protecting brand health has become a top priority for the C-Suite. This is the third post in a series about brand measurement, to help organizations find insights and make recommendations to guide future brand strategy.

Part one in the series provided overall information about brand-centric metrics, while part two looked at specific ways to pull and parse data for five brand metrics that matter. These previous posts demonstrated how to choose metrics and set them up for your analytics program.

Now, let’s discuss a different approach to measure brand health — a scorecard.  Specifically, this post examines two types of scorecards – 1) a “Brand Perception Indicator” to provide automated insights into the heartbeat of a brand, and 2) a “Brand Perception Index” with a higher cost and a deeper methodology that also includes hand-coding, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

Think of the indicator as a daily or weekly snapshot of your brand health, while the index is a more-advanced monthly report card that showcases your brand health over time. Both the indicator and the index use a Brand Perception Score to determine the effectiveness of your brand strategy.

What is a Brand Perception Indicator?

A Brand Perception Indicator is a snapshot that is based on three-to-four automated metrics to help you easily determine your organization’s brand health. The indicator provides you with a life jacket during these days when we are drowning in data. Because only a few metrics are used to pull information, and the results are automated, you can quickly, frequently and cost-effectively look at key reputation drivers.

For example, your indicator could focus on positive sentiment, message pull-through, total volume, and top-tier media performance, all of which can be automated in your analytics tool. Other metrics to consider include brand reputation mentions about market leadership, thought leadership or executive visibility.

If you are worried that automated sentiment can be unreliable because of its difficulty understanding sarcasm, and if you have a larger budget, a Brand Perception Index (described below) might be a better choice.

Of note, top-tier media might mean something different for each company – it represents the most influential media that is important to your key audiences, whether it is a large outlet such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or the Los Angeles Times; a regional or local publication; an industry report; and/or social media channels frequented by your audiences.

After you’ve chosen the three-to-four metrics that work best for your brand, and set up the automated process in your analytics tool, the next step is to develop a Brand Perception Score to apply to your results. I’ve worked with clients who have chosen a seven-point scale, a 10-point scale, and even a 100-point scale. This should be determined with your company’s data analysts, brand strategists, and/or your analytics tool’s specialists.

The benefit to a Brand Perception Indicator is its ability to give you reports for your senior leadership on a frequent basis. This snapshot can be delivered as a stand-alone report, the first slide in a multi-page report, or a section of your analytics dashboard.

An indicator can also be supplemented by a “Hot Topics Alert” to identify potential risks to your brand reputation.

Hot Topics Alert

A “Hot Topics Alert” assists with your crisis communications strategy by raising a red flag on rising issues and negative posts. This will let you know if a crisis is pending, so it can be averted or mitigated.

To do this, your search string should contain negative words such as bad, worst, dislike, hate, inferior, lousy, awful, sucks, etc. After the data is retrieved, create a Word Cloud, so you can evaluate the volume and context of negative words associated with your brand. Be sure to conduct daily spot checks on negative posts to find additional unfavorable words to add to your search string.

This combination of word associations and sentiment provides a powerful dual metric that can help craft your reaction to a crisis.

What is a Brand Perception Index?

A Brand Perception Index is similar to an indicator, but takes your measurement program to the next level. In addition to the automated metrics in the indicator, an index evaluates two or three more metrics; utilizes hand-coding for tricky sentiment analysis; and includes machine learning, predictive analytics, and AI.

AI attempts to understand high-level human cognition in terms of natural language processing and more. (Download Zignal’s white paper on AI here.) Machine learning provides computers with the ability to learn from previous results, without being explicitly programmed.

AI and machine learning assist you in processing large quantities of data – to spot trends, anomalies and patterns. You can summarize tens of thousands of stories to understand context and topics. You can analyze the trends for your brand attributes, core value pillars, key drivers, message pull-through, topics, and competitors. With this insight, you can also determine when a crisis is going to start or peak. (Therefore, a Hot Topics Alert is not needed with a Brand Perception Index.)

In other words, an index features automated results from the indicator plus algorithms that evaluate data in a way that can be used to understand context with significant accuracy, identify trends in datasets, and expand knowledge as more information is available over time.

As with the indicator, all findings are given a Brand Perception Score (BPS) to determine brand strategy effectiveness and refine ongoing communications plans. Again, the BPS should be determined with your company’s data analysts, brand strategists, and/or your analytics tool’s specialists.

The score can be easily compared month-over-month to demonstrate changes over time. This helps you to determine successes and opportunities, and provide data-driven, actionable insights to ensure that strategies and tactics are reaching the right audiences effectively.

The benefit to a Brand Perception Index is its ability to give you detailed, monthly reports and recommendations to deliver to your senior leadership.

Summary

Whether you choose a quick, automated and less costly Brand Perception Indicator and Hot Topics Alert, or have the budget for a more in-depth, complex Brand Perception Index, you will build a rich foundation to understand your brand strength while mitigating risks.

Both of these scorecards can be used for benchmarking and showcasing performance over time, spotlighting improvements in how media are discussing your brand.

Together, these methodologies can arm you with ways to build and protect your brand health and reputation.

If you would like to learn more about the metrics to use to measure brand health, download our white paper: The Media Metrics That (Should) Matter to Businesses and Brands.

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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.

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