Brand Health Scorecard
If you’ve read or heard anything about brand health, you’re probably accustomed to cliché linkages to personal health metaphors like regular check-ups, whole-body healing, or even invasive surgery. This is why brand management is often one of the first places where organizations cut funding when resources become scarce. This is also why we need to throw similes and metaphors out the door that only serve to perpetuate the “brand fluff falsehood”. It’s time to get real about brand health and that means understanding how to assess and manage your brand in a way that provides directional information of value to your organization.
Why Bother Measuring Brand Health?Brand health measures the state of the brand in the minds of both internal and external stakeholders (e.g. prospects, customers, employees, investors, and public influencers), and answers two critical questions:
But, managing brand equity and delivering increased value to the business means more than just measurement. An effective brand measurement program has two mantras: right measures, right processes. Developing a scorecard sounds like you’re being proactive, but it’s really just another report if no one intends to review it, learn from it, and most importantly ACT on it!
How to Approach Measuring Brand HealthAnswering the simple question “how healthy is our brand?” can actually be quite difficult. One of the hardest things an organization has to decide in its endeavor to measure brand health is to determine which metrics to incorporate. With an overabundance of research and reports at their disposal, it’s easy to construct a huge dashboard that’s so comprehensive that it becomes overwhelming and virtually impossible to maintain or inform decision makers. On the opposite end of the spectrum are companies that fall into the trap of being too narrowly focused; relying strictly on marketing and advertising measures without recognizing and portraying the breadth of all the factors that contribute to brand health. The key to measuring brand health is focusing on those metrics possessing a high degree of correlation to business performance.
Having researched numerous brand health measurement methods, we believe that organizations must take a comprehensive yet manageable approach in selecting metric variables. The framework (Exhibit 1) we’ve developed considers four distinct brand exposure dimensions that customers and/or prospects can experience. By combining the usage of both lagging and leading indicators along with measures that gauge customer perception and actual customer behavior, the framework captures a full picture of a brand’s health.
Influential measures represent the tonality and pervasiveness of stories key constituencies see and hear about a brand. They are often qualitative in nature, yet give a directional understanding of perception-shaping messages.
Examples: news, PR volume and tonality, competitive actions, blog tracking, and industry consumer rankings
Intention measures are leading indicators of potential future profitable actions. They are the most common metrics typically associated with brand health as they can be closely correlated to forthcoming results.
Examples: key brand image factors, willingness to investigate, net promoter score, and likelihood to recommend
Experiential measures are a key constituent’s opinion or feeling of how well a company has executed against their needs and the organization’s brand promises. What a customer/prospect experiences often has an even more dramatic effect on their impression of a brand than marketing, advertising, and word of mouth combined. Although there are many types of experiential measures, most experts agree that a combination of employee satisfaction (leading indicator) and customer satisfaction (lagging indicator) helps give a clear picture of the customer experience. And while many people might think ESAT and CSAT have no place in a brand scorecard, correlative studies show that experience with a brand is a powerful predictor of brand image impressions.
Examples: customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction
Behavioral measures are lagging indicators that display the end result of a key constituency’s perceptions and experiences. So, the interpretation dimension of the brand scorecard is mostly closely tied to actual business results. Periodic regression analysis between interpretive measurements and other leading indicators is a smart way of validating accuracy in your scorecard.
Examples: acquisitions, retention, referrals, and churn
While this framework is universal, the actual metrics chosen in each dimension must be customized to company and industry. Therefore, companies should identify a select group of metrics, those most highly correlated to performance within each dimension. Additional in-depth reports should not stop or be discounted simply because a brand health scorecard has been developed, as they can continue to be used to provide necessary details and insights.
Turning Information into ActionIt’s not enough to measure brand health; key stakeholders must be able to promptly understand, learn from and act on the brand health dimensions. In most cases, this means you can’t compile the report and hit send. The most effective way to drive brand management and improve brand performance is to become very prescriptive in the management of your brands health. This involves:
So, the next time brand health is dismissed as a marketer’s invention or a cheap business metaphor, remember two important facts. First, the health of a brand is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Remember, every company interaction and exposure point serves to either strengthen or weaken the brand. Second, having an effective brand health measurement framework and process is central to active brand management that delivers increased business value over time.