Taking the Pulse of Your Brand: Three Core Components

brand health

Brand health is a mix of behavioral and emotional customer and prospect experiences. The state of a brand’s health is ultimately based on an understanding of its role in the target audience’s life. Monitoring it is critical to building customer satisfaction and fostering strong brand relationships. According to Seth Godin, the best-selling author and entrepreneur, a brand can be defined as:

“The set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

In other words, a brand lives solely in consumers’ hearts and minds. To steer a brand toward continued growth, marketers need to keep a finger on the pulse of their brand. Measuring and monitoring brand health is both an art and science. Here are three core components to keep in mind.

1. Measure Brand Awareness

At the most fundamental level, it’s essential to understand who is aware of your brand and how well they know it. The three metrics of brand awareness include:

  • First Mention or Top-of-Mind Awareness: When thinking about your product category, what proportion of your target audience thinks of your brand first?
  • Unaided Awareness: What proportion of your target mentions your brand without being prompted?
  • Aided Awareness: Among those who don’t mention your brand unaided, what proportion has heard of it when asked directly?

The sum total of these equals your total brand awareness. It’s among these people that you can dig deeper to learn about their beliefs and experiences relating to your brand and of close competitors in your category.

2. Look at Emotional Engagement

Here’s where the “art” of brand health measurement comes into play. There are many techniques that help marketers understand the role a brand plays in the hearts and minds of their audience.

Regardless of the technique, it’s important to remember that consumers don’t “think” about a brand nearly as much as marketers. Their associations and perceptions of a brand are largely unconscious. That’s where innovative projective techniques become useful. Utilizing word association, personification, or gamification exercises help get at initial brand impressions. Some other creative means to further reveal deep insights into how consumers perceive a brand include:

  • Role-Playing Exercises: Participants put themselves in the role of a brand marketer/executive to describe what they would do to address a business objective (i.e., If you were CEO of Brand X, what one thing would you focus on to improve the brand?)
  • Collage Assignments: Have participants create a collage of pictures to communicate how they feel about a brand or their emotions during various stages of their brand interactions (i.e., emotions before using a brand, while using a brand, after using a brand)
  • Obituary Writing: Imaginary eulogy of a brand that includes cause of death, who attended the funeral service, and the brand’s legacy/what it will be remembered for

These qualitative research approaches are instrumental in guiding marketing strategy decisions, as they provide first-hand insights into current perceptions of a brand and its key competitors.

3. Use Customer Journey Mapping to Deep-Dive into the Experience

Customer journey mapping is another way to deep-dive into customers’ brand experiences, from their first point of contact, through various engagements that impact the relationship. Whether focusing on a specific part of the customer experience, or providing an overview of the spectrum of interactions, customer journey maps are a powerful tool for understanding and improving the customer’s experience.

If you haven’t created a customer journey map, there are a few different approaches you can take. At its most basic level, it involves synthesizing any existing customer feedback together with internal stakeholder knowledge. From here, you can do customer interviews, and/or it may be beneficial to have a session among a cross-functional group of internal team members. Regardless of the approach you take, the outcome is a map depicting how customers interact with a brand.

The benefit of creating a customer journey map is to connect internal teams to relevant customer experiences, revealing how brand interactions directly impact customers’ lives. Doing so helps identify opportunities to improve and enhance experiences, by amplifying the positive ones and minimizing negative interactions.

…Ultimate Value of Monitoring Brand Health

There are many benefits to conducting brand research. It provides intelligence around the role your brand plays in consumers’ lives and the relative strength of your brand in the marketplace compared to competitors. It can highlight opportunities for you to:

  • Ensure the relevance and positive impact of your marketing strategies
  • Base marketing communications on authentic consumer experiences
  • Develop product innovations around unmet needs
  • Deliver engaging, memorable experiences to customers
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors

Staying in touch with your customers’ perceptions and real-world experiences can help you leverage your brand’s position in the marketplace, paving the way for sustained growth. When was the last time your brand was in for a check-up?

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