"A Contemporary Version Of Witchcraft"
Wally Ollins, of Wolf Ollins fame and a legend of sorts in the branding world, didn’t look too kindly upon brand measurement. "There are too many people," he said "… who are fed the rubbish that if you can't analyze it – if you can't chew it up into numbers – it doesn't exist." Not one to mince words, he continued, "I deeply reject all that and find it to be a contemporary version of witchcraft." It's hard to argue with Wally; somewhere along the way doctrine and data have dulled the notion that brand is, to quote JetBlue's CEO, "the way we feel."
The Inevitability Of Measurement
David Aaker is a legend of sorts as well in the branding world, and a lot of his work centers on brand equity. David writes of brand as an asset. And as an asset, it is must withstand financial scrutiny and ROI justification. CMOs may know it in their hearts, but CEOs and CFOs must see it on paper. That leaves us with the unenviable task of calculating the incalculable. Many have rushed forward to meet this challenge. I describe various measurement techniques in detail in my new report for Forrester clients: Branding Never Sleeps; a brief summary appears below.
Four Measurement Streams
- The nitty gritty of brand performance is relatively easy to measure using survey, operational, and transactional data
- Near-real time brand sentiment can be captured by social listening, although skewed samples and lack of established frameworks muddy the water
- Perception can be surveyed, but traditional ask-and-tell tracking of emotions is fraught with problems; neuromarketing offers some emerging and exciting avenues
- Financial valuation leaves you with a cold hard number for deal making, but little to help brand management
Art + Analytics
Let’s get back to Wally and give him his due – you simply can't reduce a brand to a statistic. There isn’t a magic number and there isn’t a silver bullet. The way to go about it is to best understand what techniques are available and how to use them, figure out what works best for your category, and test and learn. Then use all of what you've learnt to capture a rich and layered assessment of the brand. For that you will need more than just models and measures. You’ll need intuition and creativity that would have done Wally proud.
Keep on Branding!