Do you have a finger on your brands’ pulse?

Health check’s are vital for your brand’s survival.

I often describe brands as living organisms. Like those organisms, brands change and evolve. Some are mortal and some could be described as immortal. As with any living thing, you have to check that it’s in good health and adapting well to its environment, if not, we make adjustments in order for it to thrive.

Many moons ago when I worked with Unilever brands, we attended a brand health meeting every month. The research company would present their findings on various checks that helped us keep our brands healthy and thriving. Sometimes they would give us the sad news that a brand was not thriving at all calling for us to make decisions on what to do with that prognosis.

The researchers would share information mapped against competitor brands on:

  • Brand awareness – do consumers know of our brand?
  • Band preferences – what proportion of the consumers would prefer to use our brand over competitors’
  • Brand penetration – what proportion of the consumers that actually buy our brand
  • Brand advocacy – would consumers recommend our brand?
  • Market trends – what was happening in the market place e.g. how is the pandemic affecting consumer behaviour?
  • Consumer spend – what’s in their shopping basket and why
  • Consumer shopping habits – when do they buy, how often?
  • Advert/message recall – do they remember what we say about our brands?

The research company would also arrange for us visit consumers in their homes, where we would spend the day with them observing as they went about their day and how they used and interacted with the products in their homes. All this to gather insights.

Insights. Insights. Insights.

The insights helped us keep a finger on our brands’ pulse. Was the brand in good shape? Was it healthy? Did we need to make adjustments to make the brands work better for the consumer? Were we communicating in a manner the consumer understood and resonated with? Did our communication help their purchase decision? What changes have an impact on our consumers and how they interact with our brand? What do we need to do to keep our brands fighting fit?

The insights shaped product and service innovation, product formulation changes, packaging changes, price adjustments, supermarket display strategy, advertising campaigns, changes in messaging, positioning adjustments, category shifts and more.

I can hear you saying, it’s all well and good for Unilever to do this, they have the budgets for such in-depth research. It’s a good investment to engage specialists and commission research. One big advantage is that you can tap into wider insights that the research company already has at their fingertips on your product category and market. You will have to work a bit harder to obtain those insights. The advantage is that it frees up your time to concentrate on other projects and priorities.

An organisation can easily keep track of their brand’s health. There is a plethora of information within the organisation already. Talking to the customer facing staff will give you insights on how your customers are experiencing your products and services. The sales teams pick up information as they interact with their network and can give you insights on what is happening in the market place. Your social media channels can tell you what customers saying about your brand to the rest of the world? Other checks you can to is to find out if your non customer facing staff know enough about your brand to tell their friends and family about it with ease? If the customer at the centre of your processes and the way you do business? Reporting systems can be put in place to continuously and consistently capture this information.

As marketers and senior leadership you can check if your brand:

  • supports your business strategy? 
  • reflects what your organisation’s about?
  • has impact and stand out?
  • feels up to date?
  • works well for your selling and marketing activity?

If majority of the answers to the above questions are, no. Then its time to review your brand and put in a call to someone like me to help you.

Five minutes with me

Posted on the Creative Bridge website: May 19, 2017

Head of client services, Roz Chiro, breaks down the psychology of branding

Define branding?

Branding is a collection of activities which I’ve seen described as an art. It’s a cycle of aligning what you want people to think about your company or products with the reality. It’s about constantly managing perceptions and ensuring that the messages you put out about your brand are authentic and true to your company or products. A sign of great branding is the ability to create shortcuts in the mind of your customer, to help them remember you when they filter the myriad of messages we’re presented with on a daily basis.

In a full service agency, why’ve you chosen branding?

My love for brands dates back to the early days of my career when I was an account executive on a Coca-Cola account. Up until then, I’d only ever read about brands, how to establish them and look after them. It was the first time that I’d encountered a living and breathing brand: it was fascinating. I’ve been hooked ever since.

How does branding match your personality?

I find people fascinating. How our mind and feelings work is amazing. I enjoy psychology and the study of what drives us to feel, think or behave in a certain way. Psychology Today recently published an article that talks about a nonconscious form of human memory concerned with the perceptual identification of words and objects. For example, a person sees the word ‘yellow’ will be slightly faster to recognize the word ‘banana’. This happens because yellow and banana are closely associated in memory. Remember the shortcuts I was talking about earlier? This explains how we can recognise the product in the picture below. Fascinating isn’t it?

Part of being a great marketer is understanding how (and why) people think and act the way they do. Understanding some key principles of the human psyche can be what takes a marketing campaign from good to amazing.

What’s the newest thing in branding?

Purpose. Consumers are sick of being lied to. They are buying more responsibly and are prepared to pay more for it. They are using their money to speak for them. They are choosing brands that have a purpose or acting in the best interest of society. And brands will have to adjust.

If the brand doesn’t have a purpose nowadays, it can quickly become irrelevant. Brands that truly understand their role in the world and make it a positive one are the ones that are winning.

What’s the future of branding?

Authenticity reigns supreme. The drive for authenticity will become a benchmark for which the viability of a brand performance will be measured. Inauthentic claimers of a purpose can lead to the brand being criticised or ignored.

How does creativity factor into branding?

Branding has been described as an art. It doesn’t get any more creative than that!

What’s your favourite brand?

I don’t play favourites!

Coca-Cola: What was instilled in me many years ago, remains a part of me. I only opt for the blue and red competitor drink if my choice is really limited! They inspire moments of optimism and happiness through their brands and actions.

Dove: Unilever is using the brand to help improve the self-esteem of girls worldwide. Their product packaging is celebrating the variety of shape in women’s bodies.

Starbucks: They’re using the brand to improve people’s lives worldwide – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time. This starts internally in how they look after their staff – paying tuitions fees and housing allowance.

What’s your dream branding project?

MOLESKINE! They have a great product that I adore. But its soul is buried corporate jargon, so its personality doesn’t come through. I would like to set MOLESKINE’s brand soul free!

If a creative agency were a car, what part would you be?

The body of the car. It’s what everyone sees and recognises before they even see the badge.

What superpower would help you with branding?

Enhanced mental acuity, which will give me advanced analytical skills and out of this world perceptive skills.