Time to get angry about brand measurement

Gary - 2 nd December 2015

I started my professional life as a retailer. Thorn EMI. I hope you are young enough not to remember but in the 80s and early 90s it was a high street powerhouse with brands such as Radio Rentals, DER, Rumbelows, and HMV (what ever happened to them?). Selling and renting TVs and videos before cheap credit. I loved it.

My upbringing is important and I will never betray it as it gave me a ‘client’s attitude ’. My roots often come to the surface when helping our clients assess the progress of their brand through all the various quantitative measurement techniques dreamt up by various research agencies in order, in my view, to confuse, divide and hoodwink their clients into spending more. I can’t help it, age hasn’t calmed me down; it makes me very angry!

Some evidence m’laud.

  • Spurious measures. Lots of numbers fed into what I call a ‘Big Black Box’, the handle is turned and out pops the all-important ‘ Brand Over-Rider index’ (or whatever it is called). You never quite know how it works, it has a fancy name and it seems very, very clever. Nobody outside of marketing understands it and even their comprehension is a little sketchy as they only see it three times a year and they don’t really believe it anyway.

  • Disperate systems. This one really bugs me. Different pockets of data, often key, often hidden in different research silos and not tied together by time or methodology. A 7.4 for satisfaction is not the same as a 74% score in the ‘Brand Over-Rider Index’. One is poor and one is good. Try explaining that to the Ops Director.

  • Looking backwards. Nearly all the data is historical. Staff are always 6 months ahead of the trend but are rarely consulted about their own brand. Surely that’s nuts.

  • The figures don’t move. This is a star witness. We once had a client at JWT which consistently scored 94.5% in satisfaction. This occasionally moved slightly up or down and led to much celebration or introspection as a result. You might think that 94.5 was good and tiny moves up or down were, in the great scheme of things, ‘irrelevant’. This company went bust. The measure simply was not sensitive enough.

  • Measuring the wrong things. Another star witness. Brands are built by experience. Everyone tells us this, it’s a new era.  Yet the new era does not seem to have reached many brand monitors and ignores satisfaction levels, the business strategies in place and any measures whatsoever to do with processes, people and the environment. It is hard to over emphasise what a wasted opportunity this is or how dangerous it can be.

  • Poor value. We all need to know the direction our brand is moving, why and the impact that this will have on business. This would enable us to apply resource and change if we need to. We also need the business to respect the data and use it. This means it should be central to HR, Operations and Finance, at customer level and in the boardroom, yet the language, multi methodologies and myths surrounding some systems stops this happening. Data goes nowhere, people do not get familiar with what is good and what is bad and it is ignored. This surely represents poor value.  What are you getting for your money? Can you sense my anger?

I reached the end of my tether three years ago when I sat through a 130 slide presentation at the end of which our client (luckily she is also a good friend) tapped me on the shoulder and asked ‘Gary, are we going forwards or backwards?’ The truth was, I wasn’t too sure myself.

Something had to change.  So reluctantly we invented a solution ourselves. It is called The Brand Alignment Monitor (BAM); a product born of anger.  We use three samples; Customers, Prospects and Staff. We have three areas of questions; Direction of the brand, a diagnosis of why it is moving based on the business strategies in place and what this means for sales.  We use ONE methodology that is already used by 50% of FTSE 100 companies. This makes it easy to understand, you can benchmark against your competitors and anyone can understand it and use it.  You get three programmes in one, all tied together: Brand tracking, satisfaction and staff alignment so it is great value. It is so simple I think my daughter could have invented it.

The BAM predicted the demise of the Co Op, it is measuring the impact of the Alton Towers accident, we have a global client which can easily measure and benchmark using the same system across 16 different countries and we have MDs, Ops and HR directors engaged as well as Research Managers and Marketing Directors.  

That’s it. I feel better now. You can take the man out of the client but you can’t take the client out of the man.  We have kept the BAM quiet until now, but clients are loving it but more importantly it has been very good for my blood pressure and the anger management lessons. 

If you want to find out more about how the BAM can help you combine brand tracking with customer experience measurement, enquire now and we'll be in touch

Gary is the chairman and one of the original founders of Brand Vista. With over 20 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side he loves finding out what customers and consumers are really thinking and turning this knowledge into compelling brand propositions that succeed in the real world.
Find out more about Gary