How Healthy Is Your Brand?

I recently talked to Advertising Age about a topic that has become increasingly frustrating for many marketing leaders — how to more effectively manage their brand health in the wake of a tidal wave of consumer sentiment and data. Here's a shorter version of the article and the research.

Today, a brand's health is strengthened or weakened by every interaction and exposure with a consumer, which requires a more vigilant approach to managing brand perception. To keep track of your always-on, anytime, anywhere, unfettered-public-opinion-sharing customers, CMOs must demand a new dashboard to augment classic brand metrics. There are four factors of digital influence that CMOs must consider monitoring:

  • Volume. Brand perceptions are typically measured using representative samples of consumers. But why settle for a mere sample when more than 81% of US adults use social media to create at least 500-billion influence impressions on products and services?
  • Velocity. Marketers usually perform brand-tracking studies once a year or quarterly. But that's too infrequent to monitor the impact of real-time consumer opinion, as Kenneth Cole's Twitter fiasco demonstrated — resulting in a 64% decline in brand equity scores in just three days.
  • Visibility. Consumers are now empowered to voice their unfiltered opinions about a brand to the general public. Already, 25% of search results for the world's 20 largest brands are linked to user-generated content.
  • Volatility. Brand sentiment can be increasingly unpredictable in this digital age. Gap learned this the hard way with its new logo unveiling, which received such negative consumer response online that it returned to the old logo one week later.
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How Are You Nurturing The Brand Experience?

It's that time of year . . . plants, pots, trip to the garden store, dirt, trip to the garden store . . .

We have a long narrow balcony that runs along our city apartment that I've loaded my husband would say, overloaded with plants. I'm still in my optimistic moment of urban gardening. The flowers are fresh, the strawberries are turning pin, and there are lots of little plants that seem to grow while we're watching not too many bugs, no strange blights . . . yet . . . a gardening honeymoon. 

It's a bit like the acquisition phase of marketing, full of promise. But what comes next? 

I've been writing periodically about how marketers need to mobilize their companies to deliver on the brand promise made, at all the points of connection with the customer, even when there are bugs and rotting leaves. In my research, I call it connecting the dots:  

Orchestrating diverse opportunities and all resources — within marketing, elsewhere in the company, and externally — to create a compelling brand experience that delivers value to the consumer, resulting in more successful products and services, more loyal customers, and stronger brands.

If you'll pardon the parellel, connecting the dots is bit like me watering, caring for, and troubleshooting for my garden throughout the summer and fall. 

In the spirit of the growing season, I wonder how you're doing in nurturing your brand experience. Would you take 15 minutes to answer our survey of marketing leaders? I appreciate your input. I'll use what I learn to structure a path to help marketers become better at connecting the dots. 

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How Green Does Your Brand Need To Be?

The recent Earth Day celebration brought a slew of often-conflicting reports on consumers’ environmental or green attitudes and behavior, such as “consumers cut spending on green,” “green worth paying more for,” “Americans hate faux green marketers,” and “[Boomers] passionate for green.” Green marketing initiatives were also everywhere, from Jet Blue’s “One Thing That’s Green” pledge to Procter & Gamble’s “My Carbon Footprint” app and Target’s eco-conscious “Refresh Your Nest” home makeover sweepstakes. Faced with this barrage of information and activities, many marketing leaders will be asking themselves what this means for their brand. Should they bide their time until the dust settles, or jump in? What about the risks of green-washing? Do consumers really care about the environment, or is it just something that they think they should care about? In truth, there is no one answer, because green marketing and green consumer behavior is changing rapidly. That being said, the expectation for companies to be more sustainable, from consumers and CEOs alike, is not going anywhere. So marketing leaders need to figure out what level of green engagement is right for their brand and their consumer.     

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