By Andrew Dalglish - 16th March 2012
Your organisation doesn’t own its brand. It can shape it, manage it, but never own it.
That’s because a brand is not what an organisation says it is. It’s what the market believes it to be. It’s a perception developed through the sum of an individual’s experience. Through every encounter they’ve had with your organisation, your employees or products. Through what they hear from you and about you.
Despite this, the B2B Barometer survey reveals that the majority (62 per cent) of B2B marketers don’t research external brand perceptions. Most may know what they want their brand to be, but not what it actually is.
So what should we measure?
First, decide whose opinion matters. Customers and prospects top the list because their perceptions impact sales. But the views of other audiences might also guide your fate. Are opinion formers particularly influential in your market? Are investor or regulator views important? Is the fight for talent so intense that a strong brand could give you an edge?
Employee opinion should also be explored. After all, they’re often responsible for delivering the brand experience so understanding their perceptions helps make brand aspirations a reality.
Critical audiences defined, we can measure brand health. There are many measures of this, but here are three of the most valuable.
A powerful brand is mentally prominent. The aspiration should be that whenever someone thinks of your category, your brand eclipses all others. Two strong measures of prominence are top-of-mind recall (first brand recalled) and spontaneous recall (recalled without prompting).
The most powerful brands are not just known, but known for the right things. To explore this, begin by establishing the core criteria stakeholders assess brands in your market against. Then measure how well yours and competing brands perform in relation to these.
Usually these performance criteria are functional. But let’s not forget that B2B buyers have emotions too. Being human they often prefer to work with organisations they feel an affinity with. For this reason it’s also valuable to measure the extent to which your brand is felt to be on the same wavelength, inspires respect and would be proactively advocated.
Fully informed, action can then be taken to close any gap between aspiration and reality.
Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) brand perceptions research.
Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.