Who decides what makes a business good or bad, reputable or discreditable, of value or of no purpose? It’s been said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. If this is the case, the most important factor to a brand’s success is not their own views, but those of their target audience.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but where it leads is interesting. Just how can businesses evaluate the subjective views of everyday consumers?
The perception of your brand can be built up across many different touchpoints – when people walk into your office or your shop floor, when they see an advertisement online, when they see a post you have shared on Twitter, when they have dealt with a member of your team or when they have landed on your website. All of these individual moments define and paint a picture of your business to the consumer.
That’s all well and good, but why should you care if your bottom line is healthy? Because a strong, recognisable brand will draw you closer to your audience and is one of the most powerful business attributes you can possess.
So how do you know if you’re painting a Picasso or a poor self-portrait? There are many methods marketers use to evaluate how their brand is performing. Here are just some of the several measures you can use to get an insight into how your brand is perceived and what you could improve.
Don’t be afraid to get old-fashioned. Focus groups have long been the go to method used to collect data and information on how people respond to a brand. They typically involve small groups of people, usually between five and ten, who are asked questions and discuss their thoughts towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea or just about anything. Actually sitting down and talking to people is an excellent way to gauge feelings and develop a genuine understanding.
How do you find out the why behind the data? Surveys are a great way of understanding your audience and what they think about your brand. Take surveys as an opportunity to ask the participating people about what they like, what they dislike and what do they find makes their life easier? Sites like SurveyMonkey are excellent for hosting fast, simple surveys but try to treat it like a large, remote focus group and encourage open, truthful responses to get maximum value. Taking the results of this on board can help you improve your brand for the better, if you use them.
If you need a hand, turn to consumer insight specialists. Whether you hire internally or form partnerships with other companies, the people in these positions look at the behaviour of your consumers and conduct surveys that provide valuable insight into the latest buying trends and media habits. Their role can include the tracking of all brand communications, enabling the measurement of campaigns, as well as fine tuning to maximise their performance, but even having them hold and analyse surveys can provide actionable results.
These are websites, apps and software that allow you to track activity across social media platforms. They can measure performance and analyse engagement across social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. With lots of these tools you can also measure what your competitors are doing in the wider market. The variety of tools, both paid and free, is massive but even harnessing the functions of the social networks themselves can be useful.
Take Twitter’s search function, you can quickly find brand mentions and the tone of the message. Simple, but effective. Twitter analytics is another free, useful tool to measure the performance (chiefly impressions and engagements) of your social messaging. Facebook also provides an Insights function that measures similar data but also provides demographic information. Both of these will only log data from when you activate it though, so don’t delay.
Brand display campaigns are an extremely effective way to increase brand awareness, engagement and consideration from a consumer point of view. Measurements vary from campaign to campaign and client objective, but PPC Brand searches or “Dwell Time” are effective metrics. Dwell Time is particularly useful as it is a measurement specific to the effectiveness of branding.
Scores have been built around this latter metric, based around how long users spend on ads combined with engagement rates, but the core of the idea is simple. The more time people spend engaging with your ads, the more positively they have reacted your brand. If your numbers are low, you’re turning potential customers away. This can be a valuable insight into whether your brand or a specific campaign is underperforming or hitting the right notes.
If you’re concerned with how your business is perceived, your first priority should be identifying the people who do the judgement. Your second priority should be not only determining current performance, but improving on it. The best methods to use will vary on your marketplace and marketing, as well as the details you want to uncover, but finding a measurement that fits is crucial. It can move your brand to the next level.