What’s built over a lifetime and destroyed in seconds? Reputation.

Today we have higher expectations of brands than ever before. They don’t just fulfill a need in our lives, they’re expected to know us, entertain us and engage with us.

And the pandemic has heated up the love affair between customer and brand even more; direct to consumer models are thriving, delivering on a well-defined purpose is expected, and constant digital communication is now standard.

It’s a lot to juggle. And while a brand’s reputation is built on a combination of elements, one dropped ball could bring the whole lot tumbling. 

The question is, how do you measure something as abstract as ‘reputation’? To find the answer, you’ve got to ask the right questions. 

Here’s how to measure your brand’s reputation by putting the focus squarely on your audience.

Why measure brand reputation?

As far as marketing metrics go, brand measurement is often seen as the remit of larger companies, and less of a priority than traffic, conversions or leads. 

The truth is, measuring consumer response to your brand feeds into wider metrics used to decipher the overall success of a business. In short, it helps you strategize for the future.

Here are 4 ways measuring brand reputation gives you a competitive edge. 

1. It takes you beyond awareness.

Let’s say your brand awareness and recall is strong amongst your target market.

For many brands, building up to this point takes years of graft, and seeing your website traffic and social media following grow indicates progression.

But looking at these figures only paints half the picture. After all, do you know what’s driving people to search for you, and the emotional response they get?

Brand reputation measurement takes your awareness data and adds value.

It highlights which attributes of the brand are driving your desired business outcomes, and which aren’t.

2. It includes you in the conversation.

Consumer trends, especially cultural movements, provide a vehicle for inspiring consumer discussion around the products and services you’re promoting. 

A mix of survey data and social media listening can help you determine which discussions you should be part of.

The contexts in which conversations are happening about your brand’s (and your competitors’) products develop your understanding of your competitive environment and the key trends.

It goes without saying that weighing in for the sake of it is fruitless. You’ve got to know your angle and contribute proactively. So staying up-to-date with the latest consumer trends ensures you’re contributing to the conversation in an optimal way.

3. It helps you monitor and respond to criticism on time.

Mitigating risk is key to the long-term success of a brand.

We’ve seen how quickly public opinion can turn, with some high profile brands facing criticism of their handling of the lockdown.

Smaller brands, often with just as dedicated a following, can suffer for their various actions (or inactions).

So when under pressure from your audience, gathering as much information on consensus as possible helps divulge what consumers expect, so you can preserve a strong brand reputation.

4. It helps you focus your marketing.

Brand reputation measurement data can support strategic planning – such as segmentation, advertising placement, or consumer profiling.

Survey data and social listening are cornerstone data sources for achieving this.

Here’s how:

Survey data: With a custom survey you can ask the kinds of questions that will disentangle the impact of individual touchpoints on the brand experience. 

Whether identifying awareness triggers amongst your target market, or brand perceptions amongst the wider population, survey data cuts through the noise to ask consumers their opinions of your brand directly.

Supplementing a custom survey with wider data sets on consumer trends helps contextualize these findings and provides more scope for detailed analysis.  

Social listening data: This provides qualitative and quantitative data around brand awareness, brand positioning and how audiences perceive and respond to your messaging.

Identify the different demographics that are talking about your brand on social media and use this to supplement your existing audience segments.

On which platforms is your brand health best/worst, and how are users talking about you there?

You’ve got to know what they want.

It’s all well and good saying how important brand reputation is to a business, but we need to switch the perspective here. Let’s focus on the consumer, and see what really drives positive brand associations in their eyes.

Advocacy drivers: 

Recommendation, or word of mouth, is very persuasive. Brands should look to cultivate a dedicated group of advocates who’ll shout about their brand for them.

Chart showing how to improve brand reputation.

Brand expectations:

Reliability (57%), innovation (48%) and authenticity (46%) are most highly valued by customers. Reliability might be a bare minimum expectation, but innovation and authenticity are something to weave into the brand’s products and message.

Brand actions:

Today, having a good product isn’t enough – it’s what else you do that counts. Eco-friendliness (45%), listening to consumer feedback (43%) and social responsibility (43%) top the list here. 

Disclaimer: the above are global insights, but to see exactly what matters most to your own audience, you’ll need to build it in the platform.

How to measure brand reputation

Understand your brand environment: GWI incorporates more than 3,500 brands across 46 markets and around 30 industry verticals, so the detail is there if you need it.

Equipped with an extensive understanding of the trends that are critical to brand health, this knowledge provides the bedrock on which to interpret your brand performance.

Unravel emotional brand-connections: Deep consumer data can measure the rational response to your brand, but also the more difficult-to-measure instinctive responses.

Instinctive responses are a key indicator of success. They’re a driver in decision-making and the more automatic the response to your brand is, the more emotional the bond.

This is measured by a combination of pressured thinking and timed response to access, christened “System 1” decision-making by Daniel Kahneman – which is highly emotion-driven.”.

Emotional connection survey data captures freely expressed thoughts about how consumers feel about the brand, using neuro-linguistic programming to fully understand the relationship between brand performance and perception.

Map brand performance against the customer experience.

Gathering consumer feedback on your brand is extremely beneficial, but being able to map it against a wider data set is invaluable.  

GWI includes over 40,000 attributes per respondent to map brand performance against, revealing exactly who they are, how they think, and how they behave.

Case Study: Identifying the brand health of a social platform

A leading social media platform with a global audience sought to uncover its brand health in EMEA.

The action

It ran a brand measurement survey which asked the direct questions needed to identify takeup of the platform in the region, and wider brand perceptions amongst this market.

Questions aimed to uncover:

  • Brand recognition against competitors: For example, which of these websites or apps have you heard of? (User is given a list of social platforms to choose from).
  • What users perceive the platform is used for: Based on what you know or have heard, which of the following best describes what each of these websites or apps is? (User is given a list of use cases including ‘killing time’, ‘relieving stress’ and ‘seeking inspiration’.)
  • Emotional responses to the brand: For example, how much do you agree that this platform… (User is given a list of emotional responses including ‘inspires me’, ‘cheers me up’, ‘stresses me out’, ‘gets me to try something new’ etc.).
  • The wider interests of users: For example, which of the following would you say are of interest to you? (User is given a list of activities including ‘art’, ‘movies’, ‘TV shows’ and ‘beauty’.)

Different questions were shown, depending on the answer given. If users indicated good recognition of the platform but poor usage, for example, they were given questions to uncover why.

The result 

The survey achieved what it set out to.

The data revealed key usage, uptake and perception indicators.

To showcase the most powerful data points, when asked why users hadn’t used the platform, 17% stated they didn’t understand what the platform was used for. An additional 12% stated their reason being they were already on too many apps/sites like the platform.

When users indicated high usage of the platform, the largest proportion (12%) stated they used it to discover fresh new content, closely followed by its entertainment value (11%).

From one in-depth survey, the brand could identify how users perceived it  and its offering against competitors, and analyze the different reasons for the actions they take.

By digging deeper into why consumers in EMEA were or weren’t engaging with the brand, they could take steps to both capitalize on the positive sentiments and identify areas that require development.

Key takeaways

In a rocky market, a good brand reputation offers ballast. 

Consumers crave reliability, familiarity and support from brands they trust.

The current rate of change we’ve witnessed over the last few years (let alone the last few months) coupled with new pressures on brands to be ethical, transparent and accountable, emphasises the need to monitor customer perception of your brand.

Quantifying and analysing your brand’s reputation will pinpoint where your strengths lie, help you scope out a niche in the market, and ensure you’re delivering your message in the optimal way.

Click to access our connecting the dots 2021 report

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