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How Healthy Is Your Brand?

No seriously, if you work for a brand, either directly as a marketer, or indirectly as a service provider in the content, tech, ecommerce, media or any other space: how is the health of your brand doing?

This seemingly obvious question nowadays gets a plethora of answers. And the answer depends totally on who you ask. Or who you are in the ecosystem (see first paragraph above). And that is a problem.

In the olden days, things were so much easier. You advertised across any of the roughly seven media types available to you (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, outdoor, instore, sponsorship) and then tracked two things: media performance in reach and frequency, and brand performance in brand health metrics such as brand preference, brand recognition, awareness for the brand and/or campaign, etc.

Today we struggle to find an answer to media performance as we lack transferable metrics across touch points. We seem to have defaulted to “impressions”, a kind of uber-dumbed down gross reach number. The industry can’t even really agree on what the definition of that is. There are companies that define “impressions” as a number that covers only digital media. But most agencies now serve “impressions” as an overall number that includes linear media as well.

There is a school of thought that advocates there is no need for a generic media metric anymore because the way touch points are bought by the industry and consumed by target audiences is so fragmented and unique for each channel that a cross-media metric can never be more specific than “all people potentially exposed to X through media platform 1, 2, 3, etc.” Impressions are not even target audience specific. It is simply all people technically exposed to your message through a media effort, added up to one number. Duplication? Sure… but we don’t know how to deduplicate across the walled gardens and platforms and definitions of an impression.

We are pretty good at knowing which creative effort or message is working to move a target audience. We can see that by analyzing search data for paid search, or social media interactions when we place paid search, or reviewing influencer content engagement when placing influencer content, and so on. For each effort we are pretty good at understanding how content did… within that vertical. If we want to understand if the search content did better than the influencer content, we are beginning to struggle. If we want to understand what helped to build or destroy brand reputation, brand awareness, etc. we really struggle.

We have great tools to track THAT something happened to our brand health, but understanding what of the myriad of components drove the outcome is mostly a black hole.

And now we are entering the AI era. In a podcast, Christine Cook, Bloomberg Media’s chief revenue officer, predicted that “AI will create a tsunami of crap.” That surely won’t help our understanding of what drives, builds or maintains brand health.

Your brand health can appear to be fine until all of a sudden it isn’t. In that respect it is very similar to your own health. You are fine until you aren’t. It is why you have a health check at least once a year to ensure you are not surprised by a sudden decline in your health. Make sure you do the same for your brand. Your (professional) life may depend on it.



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