Today, purchase decisions are largely driven by brand values—sometimes more than the product itself. So, understanding consumer perceptions about your brand is key to modern marketing success.
A new white paper authored by our behavioral science lead and Director of Strategy April Huff, PhD, outlines methods for measuring, monitoring, and analyzing your brand’s health to garner valuable insights about your brand as well as perceptions about your competitors, your industry and your positioning with both.
“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a lot of shifts in consumer behavior, and we’ve seen people have come to expect a lot from brands—maybe more than in the past,” says Huff. “To me, that indicates you must make sure you’re telling a coherent brand story while understanding your customer and what they expect.” And brand health tracking is one way that marketing teams can quickly get an overview of brand perception, either at a glance or over time—then apply those insights to strengthen consumer experiences.
Are You and Your Audience on the Same Page?
The simplest brand health tracking strategy can accomplish a variety of goals. It can help you understand how you size up among competition or identify your unique strengths. When tracking over time, you can even zero in on quickly shifting trends or sentiments about your products.
During the pandemic, people have come to expect a lot from brands—maybe more than in the past.
Speed is especially important for modern business. Every brand wants to become the most talked-about in their category, and those conversations happen increasingly online, meaning brands must feed the feeds through content that’s relevant to audiences and their concerns—like how L’Oréal Paris drew on social insight to develop a shoppable content hub, Beauty Click, or how Northgate Market capitalized on consumer behavior to hijack Super Bowl ads in a clever way. By tracking brand health over time and across audiences, brands can better identify opportunities to jump into a conversation, rework their messaging or design entirely new experiences—all at a greater speed.
Build Experiences That Speak to Consumers’ Needs
Brand health tracking can have a much deeper impact than simply knowing what people think about or want from your brand. In fact, Huff advocates that brand teams should build a business case on how health tracking affects clear business KPIs. “Leadership wants to know what brand health is, but unless you can tie it to revenue or other important KPIs, it’s hard to make a compelling case on why these insights should be prioritized,” she says. How might the price of a product or its ease-of-use affect loyalty or purchasing intent, for example? Evaluation of brand health data can help find causality in the way several factors influence how and why people engage—or disengage—with your business.
As brands continue tracking health over time, it’s inevitable that metrics will become more consistent—but far from being a bad thing, this means it’s time to really dig in and pinpoint where to take action. “When we see a baseline established around familiarity, consideration, purchase intent and preference, we ask: where can we add value and move the needle a bit more?” says Huff.
This data may then inspire creative digital ideas, helping turn insights into action—a top-of-mind concern for modern marketers who aim to deliver a fair value exchange through virtualized experiences. In conversation with Tom Beck, Executive Director of SoDA, MediaMonks Founder Wesley ter Haar discussed what he calls the second reawakening of digital, in which experiences across a brand’s ecosystem are measured against how they build brand love while also driving real results.
When we see a baseline established, we ask: where can we add value and move the needle a bit more?
“We’re now at the point of maturity in the industry where we can go, it’s not just cool, it’s delivering impact, business impact,” says ter Haar. “There’s a celebration of digital beyond just being a channel for direct response. We truly believe doing amazing things in digital helps build brands and helps drive business.” Having a better understanding of the audience’s perspective can make these experiences much more effective.
Fill in Gaps in Research and Data
A robust brand health strategy is measurable against key business KPIs over time does more than just tell you how consumers feel about your brand—it’s an excellent initial step in building first-party data, too. “As we move into a world where first-party data becomes king, brand health tracking is an important channel to tap into to understand potential customers independent of changes in privacy laws,” says Huff.
Brand health tracking is built on data willingly offered by consumers—whether they’re your most loyal base or prospects in the general population. And the way you measure sentiment is largely defined by the kinds of data and research that you already have available, meaning brand health insights should complement existing strategies rather than sit in a silo. By growing in sophistication over time, brand health tracking can power evaluation techniques like driver analysis, perceptual maps and more that inform decision-making across the business and the customer experience.
When data and creativity come together, brands can better understand and act on consumer values. From gaining insights that inspire experiences, augmenting existing research or simply finding where your brand stands among the competition, brand health tracking is an important method to meet consumer concerns and needs more effectively—and April Huff’s report offers clear steps on how to apply what you’ve learned to your marketing strategy so that you can make the right decisions at the right time.
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