The Brand IS the Business
Let’s say you need a box of plastic bags. In the store, you’re looking at a display 10 feet wide and 6 shelves high…all plastic bags. How do you choose? The cheapest speaks for itself. It may leak a little or split wide open, but it’s cheap. But what if you want good ones? Choosing between Glad, Hefty and Good Sense is all about the brand.
Not to get too preachy about it, but branding is very close to the heart of consumerism. Without it, would people really pay about $20.00 for a gallon of detergent? There’s another brand you recognize on the lower shelf that costs half as much and it also gets your clothes clean. There may even be a store ‘brand’, or non-brand, for about $7 that does a good job too. Yet the $20 brand has been around since the 1940’s. In those 70+ years it’s probably had the benefit of maybe $1Billion dollars worth of advertising. Your family has used it for generations and by the way, it does a really good job. But still, what’s IN the bottle is detergent. It’s the brand that gets you to pay the $13 dollar premium. Add familiarity and trust to good product performance and you win.
The point is straightforward: the brand does a lot more than give your product a name, it is a primary source of value. It helps you establish a perception of what’s different about your product which goes directly to how much people are willing to pay for it.
Taking Care of Business Means Taking Care of the Brand
Given those basic marketing realities, it’s no wonder that taking care of the brand is the life blood of and company, especially when you’re dealing with consumer products. That’s why marketers talk about the ‘health’ of a brand. Or whether or not it’s a ‘mature’ brand. Or an ‘established’ brand. Or ‘disruptive’ or ‘sustaining’. Or whether it’s time to do a re-branding, etc. That’s how we think about how our brand perception affects the future of our business.
The usual way to measure the success of a brand is sales dynamics. How is the product selling over time. Even smarter, is knowing what your market share is over time. Of the total spend in your category, is your share maintaining? Is the competition gaining on you? You can rely on your own numbers and numerous reporting agencies to supply this kind of information. That’s the quantitative piece.
Traditional research techniques like surveys and focus groups provide a solid baseline of qualitative information. Surveys come in all shapes and sizes and the more focus groups you do, the more you can rely on the results. No doubt, the process of asking people what they think about your brand and how it holds up to competitors, provides useful waypoints in the life of a brand.
But What Else Would You Like To Know?
Sales analysis and opinion-based research have real value, but are you getting the big picture here? It’s a good bet that you don’t know as much as you’d like to know about the world your brand is living in. Imagine having the ability to get up close and personal with consumers in a way that lets you:
Uncover why your consumers feel the way they do about your brand
Monitor real-time changes in brand perception and pre-empt potential crises
Identify what’s working and not working in your messaging and campaigns
Understand the broader context of everything that goes into a purchasing decision.
You may already have quantitative information and qualitative reporting, but what if you had what amounts to consumer DNA? The ability to go deep with your consumers to find out what they’re really thinking about almost anything. You’d have a level of insight that has simply never been available before.
Brand Analysis Gets Social
People are talking, big time. Social media is a giant, global conversation like we’ve never seen before. It’s not that people haven’t been talking, it’s just that prior to this online explosion they haven’t been writing it down. Or taking pictures. And sharing it all, voluntarily, with the entire planet.
This huge body of online consumer conversations is the largest warehouse of unsolicited opinions ever available publicly. Trillions of tweets and posts and messages are out there. Now, imagine if you could take advantage of that seemingly unmanageable database in a way that could turn it all into meaningful answers to important questions about your brand.
You can. Artificial intelligence, when combined with social analytics is like a kind of Google for the consumer conversations. And it’s great for business. Here are some examples.
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You’ve Never Seen Insights Like These
Brand analysis derived from online consumer conversations not only tells you what your consumers are talking about, it tells you how they feel, both valuable insights for anyone with their hand on the tiller of managing a brand. Including:
Share of Voice. How often are people talking about your brand?
Overall Perception. What are the negative and positive opinions about your brand vs a competitive brand?
Emotional Content. And here’s a stunner. Find out what emotions are most often expressed about your brand vs a competitive brand.
Custom Queries. The power of artificial intelligence lets you create custom categories of information so that you can understand what consumers are saying about specific issues critical to your brand. It allows you to get to the heart of what topics consumers associate with different brands.
In this example we see how 5 major brands stack up in the discussion of topics essential to understanding the health of an auto brand.
Audience Interests. This social motherlode of consumer knowledge goes far beyond comparative info on sentiment and how, and how often, brands are talked about. You can even find out what your audience is interested in. This is a huge benefit in determining what content themes will appeal to them, where to advertise to them, and which partnerships will help you reach more like-minded consumers.
Brands Move Products By Moving Minds.
When a product does what it’s supposed to do you’re halfway home. What people think, how they feel and what they believe about your product is the other half: how your brand is perceived. And that’s up to you as a marketer. Fortunately, you no longer have to rely on basic statistics and traditional research to fine-tune and maintain brand perception. Now you can tap into the social conversation for real-world insights from real people. A successful brand controls product perception, and brand analysis powered by social analytics is the best way to understand the factors influencing product perception.
Looking for more? Learn from Forrester on the importance of moving from Social Media to Consumer Insights: