You’ve Analyzed Your Brand Health Data. Here’s How to Make It Matter.

As marketers, particularly in light of today’s new normal, it’s absolutely critical that we understand the perceptions our customers and our target audiences have about our brand.

One thing we can all generally agree on (and have mostly come to accept) is that customer preferences and perceptions are a moving target and will likely continue to change in the foreseeable future. We know that COVID-19 has shifted consumer behavior in dramatic and long-lasting ways. And we know that recent social and political issues have made consumers more selective about which products, brands, and companies they hold dear or drop. So understanding what your customers are thinking about your brand is table stakes for change-proofing your brand.

While gathering consumer insights and data on the strength of your brand is critically important—and an essential start—many marketing teams mistakenly stop there, viewing moment-in-time results as an indication of overall brand health similar to an annual physical or end-of-term report card. In today’s changing world, a snapshot of customer perceptions and sentiment is just not enough to effectively guide marketing decisions. Monitoring brand health by tracking and analyzing data over time will help you keep your finger squarely on the pulse of what your customers are feeling and thinking. 

So, once you’ve collected your brand health data and tracked it over time, you’re ready to apply those insights to decisions you’re making around brand positioning, marketing investments, and overall marketing strategy. Here’s how.

Better position your brand

The brand tracking results you’ve collected will provide the insights you need to determine whether it’s advantageous—or necessary—to adjust your brand positioning. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself about your brand and the things to look for in your tracking results that can help you adjust your positioning strategy.

  • Is your brand position still a good fit for your markets? Ideally, your brand position should maximize how relevant your brand is to your customers and your brand’s distinctiveness relative to competitors. You should reevaluate your brand positioning if the brand tracker results indicate:

    • Customers are beginning to associate your competitors with your distinctive brand position.

    • Customer sentiment has shifted and customers are now finding other qualities or features more important. This would signal a drop in your brand’s relevancy.

  • Is there open space that could give your brand a strategic advantage? In addition to indicating the relative strength of your brand’s position, your brand tracker data and perceptual map can also give you a sense of whether there’s an opportunity to position your brand more strategically. For example, you may realize that a quality like “trustworthiness” is highly relevant to your customers and is also a territory that no one owns. It would be worth investigating whether your brand should be repositioned to capitalize on that opportunity.
Adjust your channel and market investments

Your brand tracker will also provide insights into which aspects of your brand are strong and where there are opportunities for improvement. Brand awareness, familiarity, and consideration will help guide your overall marketing investment in channels and markets. 

  • Evaluating channels

    • Low results for brand awareness, familiarity, and consideration could be an opportunity to invest more in top-of-funnel channels to boost awareness

    • High levels of brand awareness but low levels of purchase intent and preference may have you shifting resources to focus more on conversion and lower-funnel marketing

  • Evaluating markets

    • Country-level or market-level results from your brand tracker will provide an opportunity to assess where and how you’re marketing
Refine your marketing research strategy

Your findings will, inevitably, lead you to a lot of questions. And there’s a good chance a lot of your questions will start with “why.” Why is customer sentiment shifting? Why did awareness decline in APAC? Any insights that will guide changes to marketing strategy should be based on those findings that show up over multiple waves of your brand tracker. If your “whys” are related to findings that are consistent over time, they merit further investigation and should be incorporated into your overall research strategy. Here are some additional research next steps to consider:

  • Invest in reports about consumer behavior and trends specific to your industry and market

  • Conduct focus groups or interviews to better understand brand perception and decision-making factors

  • Field a survey to get clarity on your target audience
Think marathon, not sprint

Brand management is a long-term strategy and a brand tracking program is a significant investment of both time and money. But, I promise you, if you collect and analyze customer data on a continuum—rather than at a moment in time—the rewards will be well worth the effort. Using your brand tracking results to guide your marketing strategy will not only help you make the most of your research investment, it will ensure that your brand, investment, and research strategies come from a place of knowledge, so you’re making the right decisions at the right time. 

About April Huff, PhD

Director, Strategy April Huff, PhD leads our behavioral science practice working with clients to implement best practices from decision science into their marketing strategy. An expert in B2B research, brand health tracking, and customer segmentation, April spent nearly a decade as a social science researcher before turning her talents to marketing and branding.