If you’re responsible for a brand – as a business owner, as a marketer, as a VP or team lead in a larger business, you need to know how to stay on top. You cannot put a price on your brand – it’s so much more than simply branding. Your brand is the image, personality and story that your customers assign your business in their mind, built out of all the interactions they have with it. Yes, that includes advertising, but also the attitude of your customer service department, the price point of your products, and the sort of people they see them with. Building the right story means the greatest number of customers have a positive image of your brand, one that tells them to spend their money with you!
One of the most important things you can do to keep your brand strong is research. If you don’t know how consumers (be they existing customers or people who’ve not chosen your brand yet) are reacting to your decisions, you have no way of knowing if those decisions are good or bad! Simply looking at sales doesn’t give feedback with sufficient granularity: you don’t know why people are making those decisions.
Market research tools like brand trackers tell you how people receive the decisions you make. You can look at trends over time, showing how your brand is rated against your competitors for the specific qualities you value, or directly ask people which products they prefer and how they feel about recent or upcoming advertising campaigns.
Iterative Decision Making
The real secret to brand dominance is building this data into your decision-making process at every level. It means feedback is king, and it’s a brave step to take, but the results make it worth it.
Whatever decision you have in front of you, be it the launch of a new product, the design of your latest advertising push, or a reform in policy for your customer service staff (steering them away from or toward generously refunding customers, for example), needs to be taken in the light of all the previous decisions you’ve taken before and all the data you have available. Decisions about how customer service staff treat customers is informed by the data you have from that department from the past (how have customer reacted to previous changes? Do customers who receive refunds come back in future? Does a ‘refund as a last resort’ mentality drive customers away? All of these questions can be asked and the answers quantified), and research commissioned to address the impact of the decision in the future.
After it’s put into effect, you can look how successful it is, which not only gives you data for future decisions but lets you check how accurate your predictions have been and lets you assess how you make them for the future.
It can be frustrating for the more bullish elements in a business, but the advantages are stability and confidence that speak for themselves.