Let's talk branding

Stef Hamerlinck - Brand performance

Episode Summary

In this solo episode, I talk about brand performance. Why is it important to measure the brand performance, what do we need to measure and how? I talk about some specific tools and techniques we can use. We also look at the key performance indicators for a brand (KPI's). It's a fun ride so I hope you enjoy!

Episode Notes

In this solo episode, I talk about brand performance. Why is it important to measure the brand performance, what do we need to measure and how? I talk about some specific tools and techniques we can use. We also look at the key performance indicators for a brand (KPI's). It's a fun ride so I hope you enjoy! 

Here are some important conversation points:

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for creative briefs and Latana, the first brand tracking tool to use advanced data science to ensure reliable and accurate brand insights.

Episode Transcription

Hey there, I want to talk to you about something that's been playing around in my head for quite a while now. The more we start solving bigger problems for our clients, the more we start helping them on a strategic level, more important, it becomes to measure the brand's performance, how we actually impact it. So buckle up, and let's talk branding. This episode is sponsored by Hola. Hola brief is an online tool that helps you create better design praise, it's settled, easy and accessible, strategic exercise help you and your client get on the same page and ask the right questions before starting a design. Check out hola brief.com for more information. It seems like in many other industries, it's a lot easier to actually measured the results that people create, for example, a doctor? Yeah, well, when when you're cured. He's done. I mean, that's that's how he measures it. Of course, not all doctors can solve all problems. Maybe they need to send you to somebody else that to another specialist. And I think on another episode, maybe that would be an interesting metaphor, because we if we would consider ourselves doctors, I think we try to solve too much problems for our clients, we think like, Yeah, well, I don't know, all there is to know about that disease. But I might take my chances on that, because it's a good errand. And if you say it like that, well, it sounds kind of wrong, but maybe we should think about it more. Okay, I'm already going on a tangent. And we're not even started yet. So sorry for that. But really, it's interesting to me how in different industries, when even when comes to b2b and services. A lot of times, there are clear, as they say it really nicely in consultancy language. It's called KPIs or key performance indicators, like a lot of assignments and consultancy world, they start out with defining what the KPIs will be for this project. And I don't think we as designers, or even creative strategists, for that matter, dare to venture they're always because it feels a bit hard to do, because what kind of KPIs can we actually define when it comes to branding? Like branding? So upstream? So a lot of effects maybe come later? Or maybe they need to be echoed by marketing. So we can't just

say, well,

we'll have an increase in revenue of about 100%. If we do this, that would be really nice. But in reality, it's not possible. And I think we also need to be careful of over promising the results on a business. But why are we talking about this? I mean, why is it so important for for me to know what the brand's performance is? Maybe that's not my job at all? Well, it also has to do with this thing called value based pricing, which you've probably heard me talk about, often. And actually, in my latest conversation with Jonathan Stark, but also, of course, Blair and and the to Bob's post podcast, they talk a lot about this. And it's really interesting what Jonathan mentions about, he said, You could even guarantee the work, I mean, you could you could say, like, if if this doesn't work out the way you could get your money back, so you can guarantee the outcome. But what can we guarantee? Again, it be more restart, selling based on value, the more we think about the outcomes for the business on a higher level, the more interesting it becomes, but also we need to be mindful of the value we are creating, and how can we measure that because you can't just say to someone, well, we're not like the other ones, we don't just work on a time based thing, or we don't just, we're not just gonna deliver you 50 deliverables we're actually looking at at your bigger business problem. But then when he asks you Well, okay, so really interesting, but how can you guarantee me that work? And then you can say something like, well, that's not part of it, we're just using it as a pricing model, so we can charge you more. That's not gonna work. So I think we really need to start thinking about it. But there is another big reason I think, why we should do this. And this is part of more part of brand strategy, when we're actually starting to do brand strategy for our clients. We need to know and understand the equity of the brand, when I'm talking specifically about a rebrand here, of course, because with a new brand, well, there is no brand equity. So that's kind of awesome. It's also trickier, because you still need to build a brand and actually work on on building this reputation, which is often the most work. But imagine, here, we're working on a rebrand, then it's really our responsibility to know what the actual brand equity is. I mean, how much people do know how much people know the brand name, how much people know the brand, and what it stands for? How do people perceive this bread? I think too much, too much people. They just they get the assignment from from a client. He says like, yeah, I want to do a rebrand. Maybe they ask some questions, but they don't go in on a deeper level, they don't go looking for the Hidden Dragon, as Brian Collins mentioned so nicely. So they just did you say, Oh, cool. So this guy wants to rebrand, let's just dive in, because the brand before it was ugly, or it sucked. But actually, that's that's the easy way. That's the lazy way. But I think it's our responsibility to not just accept that, to actually, first maybe think that there is a lot of subjectivity going on here. And that maybe he just wants something new because he wants to put his mark on the company, or maybe he's just sick and tired of the old logo. But those are not valid reasons to do rebrand. So, again, measuring brand performance is a way to uncover if it's actually actually a good idea to do this. So it's our job to inform our clients about the potential risk of doing a rebrand or changing something or maybe doing a campaign that will shift their their messaging or their audience or maybe your clients wants to introduce a new asset, or maybe they want to introduce a new color, or maybe they want to change the whole website and make it look different because they want to attract a certain type of people. That's all good. And well. But if you have no idea of the current brand, like what what do people perceive what maybe what is something that people really like about his brand, maybe it's this thing where they really love the fact that it doesn't look so tacky and modern, like all the other brands.

But oftentimes, your client won't know that. But you don't either. But because it's all about like, Oh, yes, we're gonna do a rebrand, so cool. We're gonna throw all this old, ugly stuff out of the window, and improve it. I think that's also in our nature. I mean, I'm wired that way as well. If I if I just go to any website, any restaurant, any thing I do, I just start looking for things for proof. So being married to me is not easy. I can imagine. But no, sorry for that. But really, I think that's in our nature, but we need to fight it. And we also need to be able to look, the brand and the person that's sitting in front of a straight in the eyes and tell him like, okay, let's first take a look at what's there, what's working for you What's not, and then let's see what we can improve. Because it will give you a lot of extra, like, extra trust, I think being the expert at will give you also, maybe if you do this research, and it does show that actually there's something wrong with the brand on, on a perception level or or even on a visual level, then you have the tools, you have the proof, you have everything, you need to actually move forward on that and you won't have any discussions, because you've really shown that while if it's just like the assumption is there, but maybe midway through and and the client start realizing that it wasn't such a good idea. After all, you're in a really bad scenario. So do your due diligence, as they say so nicely. And really make sure that you know, maybe the other situation could be interesting as well, from a from a sales point of view. I mean, if you're working with a client, and you're doing this whole research thing, and it seems that they they were assuming that their brand was performing great on a certain type of attribute for maybe they thought Well, yeah, everybody knows where high end brand or whatever. And that fits their pricing. And maybe it seems that after doing some research, that they are not perceived to be high end that a lot of people say oh, yeah, those are the the cliche, whatever, guys or whatever, then you have something to maybe throw the project open, then you have something like a wedge feed in the door, or you can say like, the research has shown that what you're saying isn't true. I mean, people don't perceive you the way you think they do. So we need to work on this. That's like, that's, I think that's powerful stuff. And you're already creating a lot of value, because you're challenging them. Okay, so I hope that that maybe gave you some ideas as to why we should actually measure brand performance. And now I want to dive a little bit deeper into like, okay, we know why we need it, but what do we actually measure. And I think there's a couple of important things we can do. First, we can just measure the impact on the organization or the client we're working for. I mean, that's something we can't just forget, because there's of course, the the whole brand awareness and perception from customers.

But from a most

basic standpoint, we're still in a in a, in a service, or even I like to see our business as hospitality, I think that's the good way to look at it. We're serving our clients. And what we're actually trying to do on like the first level, the first line of sight is just improving your organization. So you could do a benchmark before the actual work, you've done BF for your client, and then after like, Did it change, culture, motivation, customer satisfaction, maybe you gave the sales staff something to work with that they're proud of. These are no small things, these are no small things for a client to work with. I mean, giving them internal alignment, giving them a sales to giving their employees preparedness giving, that all of those things that can lead to them getting a being able to attract new employees, that may lead to a lot more leads. But it's like just on the most basic level, you've improved the organization, you've made them proud to come in again, just I've seen the impact that little thing like a signage board, on the outside, and maybe like a nice painted logo on the walls inside, what that actually does for a company is not something to ignore. So even when you're thinking about like defining the key KPIs or key performance indicators together with your client, you may also think about these things we often forget, like, how will we change the organization? So I think that's already something really interesting to measure. Another, of course, important thing is like the actual impact on the brand, what is the perception of the brand today? And what do we want it to be? After this project? This might be I know, you were not always talking about a rebrand here. But even when it comes to marketing, or advertising campaigns, it always has has some impact on the brand like, or even it might be about a new content strategy. There's a lot of things that can change perception of the brand. And these are usually also driven by the fact that your clients wants to be perceived differently, or he wants to reach new audiences. So I think that's, of course, a really important thing to measure, like, what is it today and what will be in the future. And I've often made this mistake of diving in a project. And again, I think that's our nature as as creative problem solvers. diving in a project and mainly focusing, okay, let's get to the solution. What is the solution to this problem? But I forgot a lot of times to actually look back to what's there right now. And to maybe like, maybe there is a lot of stuff we can use, maybe we can save stuff. But that's not in our nature, I think because as designers or creative people, we tend to think Well, those guys that did a bad job, maybe this is just me as a, this may be a bad trade, but I think it's one, one of the things we like to do is like, get out the hatchet. And when we work with a client, and just like bash on what was there not in front of them, of course, but it's something we as designers, or maybe that's just me, maybe I'm being too honest here. But yeah, I don't know. I like doing that. And it's probably because we can see all of the consistencies and mistakes. But maybe those weren't always the design teams mistake, maybe that's you know, how brands work. You know, you know, after a while, when a client starts working with a brand, and he does his own thing, he might just make it a little bit more ugly than the original was intended. But, again, that doesn't really matter. I think we just need to make sure that we test the waters and see what's there before we actually just throw the whole thing under under boat. So I think that's really important.

Another thing that is really, I think important is like just as the simple thing. How do they think about competitors before and after. I mean, it's, it's like an indirect way to, to measure this, this brand impact, maybe just by doing a rebrand by looking completely different by creating a distinctive brand that looks so different from the rest of the category, maybe people start looking differently at the category. And that might be interesting. I can imagine for example, after Dropbox and MailChimp, these rebrand with colons the the whole idea of like a tech, company identity, it kind of changed for me, because all of a sudden, it didn't have to be this typical gradient. techie look, all of a sudden, they could be quirky and fun and a bit weird. And this, this not only changed my thinking of those two companies, but also of the category and the competition. And I think that's why it's interesting to look at these more indirect things to measure the brand performance as well. But it's not only about measuring perception or awareness, I mean, at the most basic level, what what usually gets measured in in classical brand tracking, is Can people say, the brand name, when we say the category, for example, you might say, smartphones as a category, and then the first two or three brands that pop up or Apple, Samsung, and who are way or however you pronounce it, I have one, but I second pronouncing it. Okay, so that's interesting, after after this campaign, who I did that I all of a sudden mentioned who are way on the first place, I'm making myself heart named to actually do this, or did it change anything. So that's really I think, the most basic and it's really interesting to learn more about is just like this simple thing of being able to say, the brand, when you're talking about the category, that's usually what gets measured. But what's also super interesting to think about is, is really about this, this measuring these visual assets, or as Jenny Roman York, Coulter calls them, the distinctive brand assets. And really this since I've been talking to Byron and Jenny and reading their books, there's also changed a lot for me where a lot of brand strategy and and does also the measuring of the performance will be focused on brand perception. Like, how do we feel about this brand? How do we perceive it? What attributes do we feel are important, you know, the typical mumbo jumbo about people saying Coca Cola is about happiness? Well, you know, probably a lot of people don't really know this attribute, but maybe they will have a personal about Coca Cola. So I'm not saying that's not important. But what's really interesting for me, is this approach of measuring the distinctiveness of the different assets, and those can be visual assets. Those can be audio assets, those can be even people like faces, like, if you look at, let's talk branding, I have this this little purple ish square with the letters BR in it, that's like the logo. And then I also have my face. sadly enough, and then there are some, there is also like this, this song at the beginning, if you're a podcast listener, you you probably have heard it. So it's a repetition of things. So those are all distinctive assets. And then there's my crunchy little tagline where I say, buckle up, and let's start branding, you know, these are all things that are distinctively part of my brand. And it's really interesting to start thinking, Well, which one of those are things I should invest more in? Which one of those Should I maybe, maybe like, just kill kill them, because they're just not good? Maybe if because my logo looks a lot like the Adobe

logo, I mean, when when the logo is in would be in the apple software, Doc. I mean, it looks similar to that. So maybe, when people see my logo, just standalone, they think about something else, when Well, in that case, it's a bad acid. But maybe the whole thing about buckle up is really funny and recognizable. And that could like play on that on a visual level. That's that might be the case. So this kind of research around distinctive assets is really interesting. I saw this example also, I think was by Jenny, about Johnnie Walker, where where you have for, I don't know if you can actually see the bottle in front of you, but you have a couple of things. You have the walking man like as a logo, and then you have the label, you have the shape of the bottle and so on. And, and they did some research around it. And apparently, the the walking man, like just the visual, the visual. Part of that was really was really well recognized. People said, Oh, yeah, that's the walking man. And they immediately recognize it. And they knew it was Johnnie Walker. So that was a really good distinctive asset. Maybe they could like even invest more in that. And then they have this tagline, I think it's keep walking or something. And what it was, was people in like, they knew it was something unique, so they didn't match it to any other whiskey, which is good. That's the uniqueness factor of that acid. But not a lot of people tied to actually to Johnnie Walker. So there was isn't a lot of fame. So those two things, uniqueness and fame are really interesting concepts. And if you apply them to two visual or two distinctive assets, I should refrain from saying visual because distinctive assets, again, could be sound, or anything that may be in the future. So I think this is really interesting to not only just think about brands in the more perception way or emotional way, but also just like we have maybe four or five elements here, let's just take a look at how they are performing. And then maybe we can see if we can invest more in something or less than something else. So that would be a really interesting thing to measure. And also, I'm looking into how to actually do this. So as of right now, I don't have a really good way to do this. So I hope I can explore this together with you. Or maybe if you know away, that would be interesting, please let me know. And then there's also Yeah, of course, the brand awareness. I think the main thing here what you're measuring with brand awareness is you can do aided brand awareness and unaided aided brand awareness is where you actually give people a couple of options, your brand is among them. And then maybe they can give their preference. But unaided brand awareness is the best, of course, that's when you just say, smartphones and I can sell tell you a name, and that name is your brand, and you have a really strong brand, of course. So these are all really interesting things to measure. But I think what you want to measure is really dependent on the bigger problem you want to solve. So maybe you're working specifically towards doing a digital transformation for the brand, then maybe one of the key performance indicators might be having increased amount of leads through the website or an increased amount of visitors. Remember, this KPI should always be tied into the bigger goals. Otherwise, it's just vanity metrics. It's not like you just gonna say, okay, so we want to do a rebrand. And the KPIs are double the amount of visitors? Well, that's not a good there. I don't see any relation between those. So really think about what is specific to the challenge we're doing how here, what do we want to measure? And that brings me to the next topic, how can we actually measure all these things? Because that's not easy, of course.

The first thing, and this is the thing I'm doing like most of the time, because this is still something quite new for me. So I'm exploring as we go. So I hope you don't mind me doing this episode when I'm when I'm just learning. But something I've done a lot of times is doing online surveys, it's one of my main ways to actually get insights about the brand. So tools like type form, or Google Forms, can be a really good way to actually start asking questions in different online communities. So I would definitely recommend, once you start a project, even if the budgets are that high, just take the time to do the small survey, maybe the sample size is not that big. I mean, I've done research where I've had just 50 answers. And these days, I try to get it more towards 400 or 500, or even 1000. If if there's budget, you can really just like use targeting through Facebook to actually get the survey enough data.

But what's really interesting is you get like this, this early idea of not only what people perceive about the brand, but also you can use the service to really gain insights, I think I already talked about doing customer research. And I think this is like not only are you benchmarking what the brand is today, but you're also gaining insights for the future of the brand, the customers needs, and so on. So I think doing surveys is just a great way to learn about the brand. And other way to do is doing actual interviews. This is still the OG method of actually doing research doing market research. And I think it's such a powerful way like never underestimate the power of of a good conversation. And just talking to customers about not only the brand, but the category and how they experience it. And what do they see, you can do that up front. And you can do that maybe after the rebrand or after the campaign. But make sure you do it on the right time. I mean, once you start doing the project there, there's like the first time you do it is just to make sure like you do the benchmark, you you may be gained some insight from this conversations. But the second time, maybe it's good to leave three months before you actually do this. I also have a similar approach with clients. So again, what I said before about measuring the impact not only on the brand, but on the organization, it's good to talk to your clients after you've done some work, but maybe leave some time in between. So they can feel what is actually changing for them and how it's changing. So these interviews are really interesting. You can also do focus group. And I don't have any experience with that. I've heard a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad stuff about it, because it's something that came out of advertising. And some people are really, they think it's not a good way because they're the people are really biased because they're in a room and they try to please you and they're really biased. Similar to doing focus groups or surveys, is when you actually start working with bigger market research agencies like Ipsos is a really big one. There's also some more tech companies that are doing similar things. And this is where this is where the sample size gets a lot bigger. And there's also a really interesting and this is kind of also part of why white what sparked the idea for this episode is I actually work I'm working with a lot Diana, which is a really interesting tool that do similar things to these huge market research companies. But but they have a smarter way of approaching it, which of course costs less than these huge market research companies might be a really interesting way to actually measure brand performance. So they were so kind to sponsor this episode. Hey there, I just wanted to talk about a specific tool called Latina, Latina as a brand tracking and insights platform that helps brands measure awareness through smart use of data, they gave me access to their tool. And it's really amazing to see how you can accurately see the perception of your brand among different customer segments. It's also really easy to benchmark. So you can measure the impact of your rebrand a campaign, a new logo or website, whatever you want. If you want to learn more, just visit latina.com slash LTB. And you can do a free check one of their experts that's latina.com slash LTB. Now back to the podcast, a new thing. Well, a new something that's also done a lot of times is social listening. That's really where you start looking at the conversation online without you being actively involved. So the key here is actually it's about passive listening. So you're not part of the conversation. You're just looking where the conversation is about these brands, you're looking at what are they saying about the brand. I'm just working on a hamburger brand right now. So I did like a lot of TripAdvisor scrolling. And I even made like a small Excel where I summarized each review in a couple of facts. And then after doing, I think about 100 reviews, I got like this really interesting tag cloud where I saw the different perceptions of the brand positive, negative and also competitor. So this is a monkey work. But the the results that came out of it, were really driving the strategy forward. So again, like, just look for the people are authentically having these conversations without you being present. And and I think social listening is is a really interesting one. And again, it's you can benchmark before and after. What's the difference? Then, of course, we have business metrics. But what is actually what what is right now what is like, what is the current state of revenue and sale, if you can have this conversation with your clients, not always that easy. But if you can have these conversations about revenue, and like sales, or maybe how many leads they want to turn over, then you can really start to think about how you will influence that and what their expectations are. But you need to make sure again, I think I already stressed is, but I want to do it one more time. Once you start talking about business metrics, make sure that you you when when you really are defining KPIs that are tied to you and your result, and thus, the pricing and the outcome of the project. Make sure that you don't just blindly tie in, for example, let's say we want to double the revenue by next year. And that's going to be thanks to us. Well, if you're just doing branding, and for example, not marketing, then you might have a problem because you can create the most kick ass brand. But if there is no marketing, if there is no advertising their media spend whatever you want to call it, then that brand won't be out there won't be growing, and so there won't be the result. But Was that your responsibility? No, but maybe you said it was. And so the expectations were there. So always make sure that maybe you you you can do it in like the shape of having a percentage of the influence on that. And that could maybe drive the budget. But you could also think about what actually I'm working on this right now I'm thinking about considering

to make this this thing about marketing and branding, a condition to work with with us as an agency. And I believe it would be interesting. And I already do this right now in conversation. But it's not like an actual policy thing. But it might be it's just like when when somebody comes to you and he says I will I have 30,000 or 50 time to spend, and I want to rebrand, because this and this, and you get through the conversation and you you actually realize that there is a need to do it. Then if you really, if you're really honest about it, then maybe you should, you should say to them like and how much of this budget is for your yearly budget for marketing. And usually, when you're working with little bit smaller companies, they might see this budget they're doing for a rebrand as their total budget, I mean, could be that it's that they just want to pour everything in this thing, and they believe it's going to be the big change. And that's where it's your responsibility to say, Well, if you're not gonna invest a similar amount in marketing, this thing will fall flat. So I noticed this doesn't feel good, because you're you're tying yourself to something that you don't have control of. But it's I think it's the honest

way. I mean, if we look back at the

doctor, and he would say like, he probably wouldn't know that maybe after this medication, you still need an operation, but he just like keeping to himself because he wants all of your budget. That would be a doctor, that would be I don't know, if they say this part of the that's probably and lawyers. But still, you know what I mean. So I think that's really important, just like tying these business results to actual efforts done by declined by you. And then you can make sure that the brand performance is there, based on a lot of things not just because brand performance. If you have a million dollars to spend on a Facebook ad, you're gonna get a lot more awareness. That's that makes sense. You know, so if you're not in control of the advertising budget, but you are talking about brand performance, again, then make sure that you factor in these things, and you talk about them, because they will be important. Once you start measuring these things, there will be something that your client will hold you accountable for. And so does you need to really think about that.

I think we're there. I mean,

I'm just scratching the surface here of what this whole brand performance thing is. But I hope I gave you some insights into how you can actually do start measuring these things and benchmark the before and afters and how this relates to your sales and how this actually, hopefully will give you another type of conversation with your client and also really show that that what we're doing is not just nice makeup, I think. Because maybe when you're listening to this, you might be fearful that well if I actually do start measuring brand performance, and it will show that it that there's not that much

increase, for example, because

even a lot of times when a rebrand is done, you might see a drop in sales. And that's just because of the laws that are stated in environment sharps book as well about just mental availability and physical physical availability. If people don't recognize the brand, immediately, they might just skip over it even if it's 10 times more beautiful. So be realistic about it. But also don't underestimate it. I mean, again, like my conversation last week with the grant was really interesting to me, because I think we can fall in love with the brand at just like first sight just just seeing it might be enough to convince us to walk in and buy that burger or to click on that button on Instagram. I believe. Branding has that power. Creative execution has a power. And so we can have that influence on performance just by creating more beautiful design, but it needs to be thoughtful, it needs to be well executed and it needs to be benchmarked. So I think that's the main point for this episode. I want to thank you for listening and I really would appreciate rating on iTunes. Some people did it already, which I'm really grateful for. And I hope to see you next week for another episode. Take care