Brand Tracking Gone Wrong: the Vicious Circle
Or: Don’t buy a Swiss army knife when you need a screwdriver.
The Common Nature of Business Problems
There is one good thing that all business problems have in common: they are specific. Think of the three most challenging topics you had in the past 2 months: they probably felt vague only as long as you did not understand them well enough.
This is why the technique of “5 Whys” is so powerful. It is widely accepted that asking “Why” 5 times in a row brings you closer to the core of all kinds of problems. It helps you to identify the root cause — and to get rid of it. The rise of Design Thinking & User Research brought new attention to the “5 Why” technique that has a long tradition in different varieties of quality management.
The good thing about specific problems is that you can find specific solutions. They guide your thought process.
How can we stop plastics pollution? Sounds challenging and utterly complex.
How might I carry my groceries home without using single-use plastic bags? You probably have 3 options that come to mind immediately.
Tracking Branding Performance
Let’s talk about one specific business problem. At Dalia, we interviewed more than 40 Brand Managers of consumer-facing companies. Tracking branding success was a shared struggle. Understanding brand performance over time — and which marketing measures actually contribute to the bottom line of their company — is challenging in the fuzzy context of branding and brand marketing.
Keeping track of the most relevant brand KPIs has the potential to be a really specific solution for this specific challenge — this is what we call Brand Tracking.
A. Defining a set of relevant KPIs
B. Find a smart way to track them
C. Execute & learn
Even though many companies started with a really slick solution in mind, they ended up spending hundreds of thousands on elaborate market research solutions.
Whereas a deeper understanding of the market and competitive environment is not a bad thing per se, these companies somehow ended up with a Swiss army knife even though they needed a screwdriver.
We heard this story quite often — and started calling it “the Vicious Circle of Brand Tracking”.
“The Vicious Circle of Brand Tracking”
Most companies start with the ambition to track success of branding activities — and little else. Young & fast-growing companies especially have really precise needs in this area (read more on how Startups do Brand Tracking).
Most market research companies that are capable of providing these insights run a traditional “key account” / “consultant selling” approach of doing business. We have heard of five-digit minimum project budgets — which is enormous for small and young companies, no matter how grown-up they are.
If the initial impetus to learn more about the company’s brand health is strong enough, people are willing to jump over this barrier. This, naturally, triggers new thoughts: if it costs so much money, we should try to reimburse the cost by leveraging it for more insights. We might also ask this and that. This is where the vicious circle unfolds.
High prices incentivize companies to cram more questions into one single project and this results in two difficulties:
A. The longer the survey, the less likely respondents are to answer. This increases the required incentives and lowers the data quality. At a certain point every respondent just wants to get to the end of the survey — sounds quite human, doesn’t it? (Hello at “rate these 12 brands for these 12 criteria on a 1–10 scale!”)
B. The more diverse your research objectives get, the harder it gets to derive precise & actionable insights. We see reports with hundreds of slides. Who can actually make sense of all this information for a meaningful next step?
This, of course, has the potential to lead to frustration.
Companies are extremely likely to drop out after 1 or 2 waves — and thus never actually gain any value from tracking their Brand performance over time.
At Dalia, we created the simplest Brand Tracking service we know of. It covers a short selected list of the most relevant Brand KPIs — at a radical price of only a few hundred euros per month. It provides Brand Managers with the data they need to understand which campaigns work & which don’t.
This what Brand Tracking should be about: learning whether you are making progress. No need for a swiss army knife.
My name is Christoph and I work as Insights Innovation Lead at Dalia Research. I create market research products that help startups, small & medium-sized companies to leverage the wisdom & opinions of the crowd to drive their business to success. My most recent project is our BrandTracker that enables consumer-facing brands all over the world to track their brand performance over time — at a price that is affordable for everyone.