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Data Use in Branding

What opportunities does Big Data offer marketers to build and manage strong, enduring brands?

In 2010, McKinsey & Company conducted an exhaustive consumer research study to examine how consumers make purchase decisions.

The study included 20,000 consumers across three continents and five industries. It resulted in the widely-publicized Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) model that disrupted the traditional notion of purchase decisions happening in a linear process, especially in these days of the Internet.

McKinsey then discovered that a similar phenomenon had taken place the B2B world. Many B2B brands are failing to engage buyers at critical points in the buying cycle. We couldn't be happier with McKinsey's efforts to evangelize the importance of delivering a consistent experience for both buyers and customers as they interact with a company.  That's because we view branding as more than Vision and Mission statements, taglines or the logo found on a business card. 

Brands are positive associations of value in the mind of buyers, over and above price and product functionality, that motivate them to engage with, buy and recommend a product or service.  Research studies have shown that strong brands enjoy profitability advantages over their competition and sell for higher multiples in M&A transactions.  Measurements such as the Net Promoter Scores (NPS) represent one indicator of the strength of a brand, however more advanced brand health measurements are available.

We apply five steps to develop a winning brand strategy:

  1. Business Strategy (clarity, executive alignment, investment)
  2. Insight Discovery (customer perceptions, market mapping, opportunity assessment)
  3. Brand Development (positioning, brand architecture, brand identity)
  4. Brand Adoption (employee engagement)
  5. Brand Integration (execution, marketing strategy) To begin, establishing clear strategic intent is essential for success throughout the rest of the process.  It is important to select the correct data sets and apply the appropriate analysis technique during the Insight Discovery stage to produce a credible snapshot of where a company is positioned and buyer intent to purchase.  This (in turn) enables the company to determine whether it should modify its brand strategy to better penetrate the target markets to accelerate sales.  

McKinsey's notion of focusing on buyer and customer journeys is powerful during the Brand Adoption and Brand Integration steps to ensure the brand experience aligns with the brand promise.  The result being that customers become promoters to spend more and refer more.

We challenge you to ask yourself:

  • What intangible value do you deliver to customers?
  • What associations are bundled around that value?
  • How are you measuring performance over time?

Big data offers marketers unique opportunities to measure brand health in addition to statistical data analysis for developing brand strategy.

We welcome your comments.

Photos - Ryan&Alan - RiechesBaird

Ryan Rieches & Alan Brew

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