“It’s branding! You can’t measure it.” they say as if branding is some sort of magical dark art.
As a brand-builder I hear this a lot by people happy to defend what I do but “hold your hippogriffs!” because, while maybe it was true in the past, it’s no longer the case these days thanks to online search tools.
I spoke last week at Seneca College to a group of great Brand Management students from here and abroad and showed them how you can use free Google tools to measure the impact of your branding activities using the Captain Morgan Pose campaign as a case study. It’s detailed below.
Because you can talk fans, followers, likes, shares, open rates, contest entries and awards all you like but the bottom-line is that…
…Accounting Doesn’t Care.
You need to provide more solid proof that your campaign is creating demand in the market for your brand.
Let’s say, for instance, you’re the brand manager for this campaign:
Q: Do you personally like it? Or do you hate it? Or did you like it once but have now grown tired of it?
A: It doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is whether it’s working.
But, sadly that’s not always the case in the boardroom and in the office where other factors come into play. (Like Avinash Kaushik’s HiPPO analogy: Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). You might be a brand manager under 30 who likes it but you have a 48 year old CMO who hates it or who just arrived and feels like it’s run its course. And across the table sits Finance – you know, the guys who give out the budgets – and they feel while, yes, sales are going well they believe it’s a result of that new distribution strategy that Superstar Steve just implemented. Unless you speak up soon the Captain Morgan Pose campaign is going to go down with the ship!
So what’s a brand manager to do?
Well you could show them something like this:
An indicator of how popular the Pose has become in popular culture using a Google Images capture (it was even banned by the NFL as a touchdown celebration!).
Better yet, show him this. The following two charts from Google Insights for Search compares search demand since 2004 for Captain Morgan rum compared to industry leader Bacardi and up & comer Sailor Jerry. The Captain appears to be on the rise particularly compared to sinking demand for Bacardi. The second chart takes actual searches for the ‘Captain Morgan Pose’ and compares them to the overall search demand. Each spike for the campaign corresponding with a spike in overall demand.
As John Battelle said Google is a ‘database of intent’ and this is just one example of how you can use it to prove the value of your branding magic. You can track overall search demand for your brand and correlate it to a number of integrated marketing communications tactics such as searches of your tagline, campaign theme or just mentions on popular social sites. Show enough data correlating demand and interest with your campaign and Finance will leave your budget alone.
Just remember though it’s all relative. Because as popular as your branding campaign may be you’re not the Most Interesting Man In The World!
Hope this helps.