Brand Performance Evaluations

It’s that time of year when formal employee performance reviews are due for 2011.  So how about evaluating how your brand did in 2011?  It is a great way to measure the current state of your brand and, more importantly, to lay out a plan for the year.  Here are a few critical areas to evaluate brand performance for the year:

Moving the Needle – Survey customers and prospects in your target market to determine perceptions of your company on your key brand attributes.  Did ratings of your company on these attributes increase, decrease or remain static?  Remaining static is not necessarily bad if you had high ratings on these attributes in the past.  With this data you can lay out plans to keep momentum or course correct where performance is not meeting expectations.  Also, you may be able to capture input on perceptions of your brand attributes by monitoring social media to see how often customers and prospects use these attributes in communicating about your company.

Competitor Analysis – While the research noted in the last section gives you a pure number to compare to past performance, you also want to evaluate how your brand is doing relative to your key competitors.  It is a danger sign if your competitors are improving performance on attributes and your brand is remaining static or has slid on these attributes.  Don’t be complacent if you and all your competitors have slid.  I have a friend in print advertising sales and every time I asked him how business was he said “We increased our market share”.  Unfortunately, it was increased market share of a shrinking market.  When brand performance is down across a whole category it probably means another product of service is eclipsing the market or a new competitor is about to leapfrog everyone.

Mind Share – An industry survey I used to participate in at a business-to-business company asked buyers a deceptively simple question:  Who do you consider the best company in the industry?   I thought it was a great question because it cut right to the heart of the brand.  I performed cross-analysis on how we and competitors were rated on factors important in the buying decision and the rankings of the best-in-the-industry question.   If rankings in the two areas were not aligned, it meant the brand was over or under leveraged.

Sales Conversion – Let’s face it, all the talk about brands and branding are meaningless to senior management unless there is tangible proof of an impact on sales.  Try to correlate brand performance with sales by evaluating new purchases and repeat purchases, and how brand performance is impacting both.  If brand performance is improving (on a pure basis and relative to competitors) but sales are not, look for disconnects in the brand-sales cycle.  If brand performance is slipping or remaining static  but sales are increasing, you should analyze why.  Is the sales group aligned with the brand and, if not, what from this positive deviation can be applied to brand messaging?

If you don’t have past data in these areas, you should measure now so you have a benchmark to rate future performance.  In early 2013 you can measure again to evaluate 2012 performance.

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