Database and direct marketing have always been driven by tracking, measurement, analytics and in some ways, ROI. Historically, the idea of “brand” has been given a relatively free pass when it comes to direct, measurable accountability. To explore the ways to bridge this divide and help establish some analytical approach to measuring the value of your brand, let’s consider the concept of return on brand (ROB).
What Is a Brand?
ROB can be derived from looking at three areas—preference, performance and premium—critical to the inherent value of a specific product or service. These three areas create a quantitative analytic framework for establishing ROB.
But first, the analytics of ROB actually start with the question: What is a brand? There are as many definitions of a brand as there are marketers trying to build, manage and exploit them. One definition states a brand is a mixture of tangible and intangible attributes associated with a product or service that, if managed properly, creates value and influence. It is the combination of both tangible and intangible attributes that makes analyzing the value of a brand tricky and a bit murky.
The more tangible attributes or value—which some refer to as the technical and commercial value of a brand—are metrics such as margin, profit, yield index or market share. These are real measurements that have real calculations and real numbers behind them. And while they may not always be easy to quantify, once a method has been created, it can be a very useful and critical tool.
Several industries and business circumstances take a more technical approach. The financial industry places values on brands for mergers or acquisitions. Lawyers and courts place values on brands in trademark and property rights disputes. From a marketing perspective, the value of a brand can be derived from the levels of “branded” search term use. And closer to the world of direct marketing, companies have been bought or sold on analytical valuations of the volumes or sizes of customer files.
Analyzing the Intangible
But what about the intangible attributes and value of a brand? The emotional aspect? This is the part of a brand that is at the heart of what impacts consumer behavior. This is the part that makes customers brand-conscious or even advocates for one brand over another. The analytics on intangible assets are rooted in more subjective measures.
To explore and analyze these more intangible attributes, let’s first identify those elements that differentiate brands. The factors that distinguish ordinary brands from the truly great brands are they:
- Consistently deliver on a promise
- Offer a superior product/service, as well as exceptional overall customer experience
- Are relevant to a particular set of needs
- Are perceived in a distinctive and unique way
- Have a clear and intentional alignment between internal commitment and external actualization
The key to the “analytics” behind these elements is in looking at the common thread that binds them together—the concept of choice. A company chooses to offer a product/service based on a perceived need and demand in the market. The product/service is positioned in the market in a way to create a relationship between various offerings and the choice of yours. Consumers choose a product initially based on perceived value of that product/service in relation to other options—and then based on their experiences with that product/service, either choose to continue to have a relationship with it (buy it, use it, return to it again, mention it to others) over a period of time or not.
And it is the concept of choice that serves as the basis for preference, performance and premium, our three keys to ROB. All three areas can be quantified using two different analytic approaches —research-based and results-based information and analytic data.