How to make sure your branding efforts pay off
Walk up to your boardroom, stand tall, and ask them for the green light to invest in your brand.
Here’s one if not the first thing you’ll hear:
“Yeah, a strong brand sounds great. But how do we measure our efforts?”
Brief reminder: your brand strategy is a plan to perfectly position yourself for a specific need people have.
We won’t go into details about the whole shebang now (feel like exploring this more? Check out some of our past essays).
Instead, we’ll focus on how to measure brand efforts so you don’t have to spray and pray.
Read on for:
- Some context
- 3 ways to measure your creative assets
- 3 ways to measure your distribution
- How to increase your reach
No time to spare? Skip to the juiciest part.
The Ins and Outs
The first thing to realize is that your market is commonly divided in two:
- The 5% close to buying right now (or bottom funnel)
At this stage, you’ll focus your communications on product features, capacities, and comparisons.
- The 95% far from buying (or top funnel)
Here, you take a different creative and promotional approach: you’re looking to generate a lasting impression, not a fleeting one stacked with figures and listicles.
Here’s the issue:
For whatever reason, the B2B world feels way safer producing and distributing an infinite number of bottom-funnel communications.
Stuff like “Buy now!”, “Book a Call!” or “Get a Discount!” get written, paired with uninspired design, and published way too often.
Frankly, it’s getting to the point where we can’t even call it creative anymore.
Now, let’s make something clear: if you are to turn people into buyers, you’re going to need bottom-funnel collateral at some point.
Where it gets interesting though, is realizing what you’re missing by not including more top-funnel tactics in your marketing.
As Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute puts it:
“There aren’t that many business clients that will say ‘You know what, I’m comfortable signing a contract with a company that I’ve hardly ever heard of before’.” (MarketingWeek, 2021)
Since branding helps to create a lasting impression with the 95%, you now get why we champion for more branding plans and tactics.
Now, let’s figure out how to measure your efforts to engage said 95%.
Ways to Measure Brand Creative and Distribution
Brand is more concerned with top-funnel activities than anything else.
Although, as the customer journey is becoming less and less linear, there is a growing need at both the top and bottom for more consistency and distinctiveness (two things a strong brand gives you).
But, we digress.
The question remains unanswered so far:
How do you know whether your brand work will eventually help your bottom line?
Bad news: there isn’t one single good answer to this.
Good news: you get to play with different measurements.
At SHFT, we look at brand success following this overly-simplistic equation:
Creative Assets Effectiveness + Distribution Efficiency
*Note that effectiveness and efficiency are cousins. Same, same, but different.
An overly simplistic equation that’s nevertheless loaded with possibilities.
Here’s what to look for and how to measure each category:
3 ways to measure the effectiveness of your creative assets
To create lasting impressions and generate memories, you need distinctiveness through creativity.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your assets:
1. What do people remember from this creative?
This can be an ad, a billboard, some digital content, a booth environment at a conference . Just go out and ask them what they thought about it and compare it with your initial expectations.
2. Can people recognize who it’s from?
For this, you can run different tests:
- Thumb Test: take your creative and hide any branded material on it. Can people still recognize who it’s from?
- Swap Test: switch your main brand assets (logo and name) with a competitor. Does it look the same? Then you have a problem.
- Concept Test: try out different options for logos, symbols, slogans and ads and go out and ask customers for feedback. You’re working on concepts here so don’t overthink it and try to gather feedback from thousands of people. Ten can do.
3. How many people who’ve seen the creative can distinctively recognize the brand?
You should try and quantify your results when answering those questions.
This way, you’ll know if you’re helping sales or not. Because If people can’t remember what they saw or read, they won’t buy from you.
*Having a tough time quantifying things? Reframe the question around the same idea, but with a quantifiable twist (question 3 is a variation of question 2 really, but it might make it easier to quantify things).
3 ways to measure the efficiency of your distribution
As you grow, you’re going to need to distribute your distinctive assets so you can increase reach of your Total Addressable Market (TAM).
This brings us to the single most important question when it comes to distribution:
Are you reaching more people than what’s in your current audience?
If you’re not, you won’t really grow. Unless your business model revolves around 5 clients that pay very well and will never, ever leave.
Here are 2 more questions to ask yourself and 2 things to track:
1. How many category buyers are you reaching?
This helps ensure your reach is not just in quantity but also in quality.
Reaching a lot of people that will never turn into clients won’t help you or them.
2. Is it bigger than the existing customer pool that you have?
As we established earlier, if you’re not turning your content and marketing communications into more of the right impressions, views, and show of intent, you’re not going to grow and sell more.
Now, here are the things to track:
- Cost per unique reach (CPR)
Divide your total advertising cost by the number of unique people (or households) that saw it. This tells you if your chosen audience is expensive to reach and, in our case, if your creative resonates with them.
- Share of Search (SOS)
SOS is a measure of your brand visibility in organic search compared to the entire market. Social mentions and organic web traffic are all indicators of how many people are willingly aware of your brand.
How to increase your reach
As we established, the greatest creative on earth won’t do a thing for you if you don’t distribute it over an ecosystem of channels and media.
Here’s how good distribution from a podcast can look like:
- Podcast turned into snippets
- Snippets shared on Linkedin
- Cross-traffic from podcast guest s
- Promotional outro to push an email newsletter
- Email newsletter generating more interest with how-to advice
Obviously, this example only accounts for a fraction of the media and channels at your disposal (podcast, Linkedin, and email).
That’s already a very strong start if you ask us. But it’s not going to be enough for long.
As we depicted in last month’s essay, Part 2 of How Brands Become Money, there are 45+ types of media and channels to potentially leverage.
Just make sure you activate more of them as you grow. Otherwise, your reach will eventually stall.
Objective and Subjective Measurements
Measuring your brand efforts might very well be the biggest challenge you can face as a strategist and business leader.
Partly, because the world of branding is still very much attached to the realm of creativity and subjectivity.
After all, distinctiveness doesn’t look and sound the same for everyone, does it?
As much as numbers and data have invaded the space, there comes a time when emotions and feelings connect better than views and likes.
The important thing is to realize there is not one single metric or answer to measure branding.
Go through our list. Answer our questions for yourself.
It should give you a much better understanding of how well your brand efforts will work in the not-so-distant future.
Whenever you’re ready, here’s the fastest way we can help:
- Brand Roadmap
An audit of your current brand with a roadmap of strategic recommendations to maximize your brand efforts and potential as soon as you’re done reading it.
Need something else? We also do: