A Next Generation Approach to Brand Equity Tracking

04 Sep 2014|Added Value

Measuring and monitoring brand equity has become a required discipline for any global marketer. Brands are important and valuable assets to corporations, and there’s a business imperative to understand their position in the market and whether a brand is developing in line with the brand’s objectives.

Any respectable research firm has a proprietary approach for measuring and tracking brand equity. While philosophies, terminology and specifics may differ there are common components to most models, including:

Brand Strength:
All approaches have a way to measure brand equity/strength that looks at the psychological/emotional/attitudinal part of brand equity. Common criteria include awareness, likeability, trust, and relevance, along with brand or category specific metrics like desirability, authority, forward looking…. These core metrics are generally at the heart of any approach whether it’s a visualized as a pyramid, a diamond or a wheel.

Brand Image:
The perceptions of the brand, described as a set of benefit and tonality statements. Benefits can be inner directed (how it makes me feel to own / use that brand) and outer directed (badge value) which we know are a key driver in categories like luxury, automotive, alcoholic beverages, fashion.

Brand Behavior:
Most approaches also capture behavioral elements, including awareness, consideration, and recommendation, among others. And many models also have specific components relating to brand salience, brand touch points, brand experience, etc.

Scorecards and KPIs
Most models distill the key information in a simple, scorecard-like way, and the end results are a straightforward set of KPIs, often grouped so that different patterns of brands can be identified which then go along with pattern-specific norm-strategies as a way forward.

The advantage of all these approaches is that they are fairly easy to understand, and make monitoring rather simple.

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All these approaches have a common weakness: they measure the “what?” but not the “why?” And they completely miss the “what’s next?” This why clients often become frustrated with traditional brand equity monitoring programs, which measure, but don’t diagnose, and definitely don’t help create plans for the future. The majority of approaches also don’t deal with the way marketing and branding works today.

The times are a-changin’: People still build relationships with brands, but not in the same old ways

The Internet and new media have changed the world.
Especially in the way people absorb and process information.
Everything is faster, shorter, more compact.
More impressions. More choice. More distraction.
Less patience. Less concentration.

People still learn about and build relationships with brands. However, thelearning and relationship building no longer happens exclusively through repetitions of TV spots or controlled one-way marketing activities. The way people acquire their knowledge about brands has changed, with new ways of advertising and communicating emerging in rapid fashion, from digital to mobile to social to experiential and beyond, along with new forms of media and devices where people are consuming, making and sharing content.. The “evasive consumer” is increasingly a reality: that which does not immediately resonate risks being clicked away or simply ignored.

Brands therefore must become more creative and inventive to reach andinteract with consumers while at the same time being consistent across all modes of expression, from communications to experiences.

We are experiencing a paradigm shift in how brands are managed: From push- to pull-marketing. And with this shift, brands need to ensure that people are drawn to them, irresistibly attracted.

How Added Value helps with the mechanics of brand management

1. We help brands to become living systems

It is no longer enough to have a well-defined proposition and some key signifiers. In today’s “click-society” people are looking for constant stimulation. Static gets boring quickly. And if your brand is boring, you’ll be out of sight or ignored before too long – and eventually forgotten. Brands have to stage themselves repeatedly, have to present themselves from new and surprising angles. True to themselves and their identity, in multifaceted, even surprising ways.

We incorporate a view on your brand’s character and an indication of its position within culture, because we believe that brands will have to become living systems. What better way to do this than by starting with brand personality, and creating a character of flesh and blood? Brands need strong identities. They will have to combine character (who am I?), talent (what am I good at?) and signature (how will you recognize me?) to create a meaningful and synergistic entity. And they will have to make sure to keep this identity fresh and relevant, i.e. generate VIBE and Cultural Traction™.

2. We help brands create holistic experiences

Our approach measures the ability of the brand to consistently deliver across all touchpoints, because brand experiences are increasingly important as a mode of communication. Experiences, whether via advertising or point of sale or any other touch point, all need to work synergistically hand in hand to be consistent.

3. We help brands to create “magnetism“

We have a unique approach to measuring the ability for a brand to draw people towards it. “Brand Presence” has always been a key success factor. In the marketing world of today, Brand Presence will need to have magnetic qualities, including clarity, uniqueness and appeal to attract people in an irresistible fashion.

4. We help you understand and drive “active brand perception”

Scientific studies prove that brands need to be “thought of” at the right moment of the purchase decision. We help you understand how to be top of mind when people make their choices. Not just as a name, but in association with what consumers aspire to feel, and display.

Our Brand Equity approach is Next Generation, not traditional

The common approaches to brand equity are missing these mandatories for brand-management of today and into the future.

  • They measure lots of KPIs, but don’t address mental presence and a brand’s magnetism.
  • They focus on passive brand knowledge through endless batteries and leave active brand experience unaddressed.
  • They try to completely standardize the measurement in a static system, unable to cope with the nimble vitality of the way marketing works today.

Yes, they measure and compare. Unfortunately they only help in a limited way to understand the “why” let alone to find answers for the “what next”.

We believe that state-of-the-art brand equity-tracking has to go beyond predefined lists – our approach also covers what is really on the top of consumers’ minds, using open-ended qualitative questions for depth. It has to anticipate and give you a view on where things are going for your brand, not just on where things are today or where they have been. We infuse an understanding of a brand’s position within culture, and insight into where culture is heading, along with predictive analytics to give you a perspective on the future. And the best kind of brand equity tracking has to be prescriptive in order to help you make your brand even stronger. We use story driven narratives to land the results in your business with impact and activate your brands for growth.

Is your Brand Equity tracking built for the way marketing works today? Are you getting as much out of it as you can?

If not, we can help.

Further reading:
Activator is Next Generation Tracking: A Manifesto
Transforming Tracking: From Rearview Mirror to Brand Activator

Written by Chris Prox and Brian Kushnir

Chris Prox is CEO of Icon Added Value in Germany, and specializes in brand equity and communication.
Brian Kushnir is EVP and Managing Director of Added Value North America and leads our communications practice.


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