Your Brand has Value …
Do not communicate thoughtlessly.
Brands have financial value. Brands are an investment. A quick look at the world’s most valuable brands confirms this. A brand’s value is commonly called brand equity. Determining a brand’s value and its financial impact is a complex and intricate endeavor. Your brand too has financial value.
Brand value is determined by numerous factors, including the brand’s positioning + prevailing perception + current sentiment + market reputation + share value + experienced based interactions.
Many of these factors are based on emotion and hearsay. It is therefore reasonable to assume that any communication with your target audience, without taking emotional factors into account, is not a good thing. Even if you are successfully conveying your value-proposition-based messaging verbatim, you can still be communicating thoughtlessly, and this can reduce the value of your brand.
So, it goes without saying that getting market feedback is important, particularly from customers. When gauging this feedback though, trying to understand what you are actually dealing with, before you construct how best to respond, is perhaps a prudent communication risk mitigation approach.
Whether you are using Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS), endeavoring to separate facts from emotions, even qualitatively, can be a helpful ‘sense making’ exercise. But how do you do this without the assistance of a clinical psychologist, a statistician, and lengthy implementation times?
In 1976, a British statistician named George Box wrote the famous line, “All models are wrong, some are useful.”
I have a model.
According to George Box this model is wrong, but I have found it to be useful. If nothing else, it cultivates your thinking in terms of positioning market or customer feedback in an emotion versus fact, and a cause versus effect grid. Position your feedback as best you can, using the beliefs, theories, and information you have at your disposal. You can then have a crack at better aligning your response mix. What has worked for me is involving a group of customer-facing colleagues in the positioning exercise and constantly reviewing the response mix.
The model was not originally developed specifically for gauging market feedback or sentiment. It was created as a ‘sense-making’ tool for a campaign my company designed and implemented. Quite frankly, we were a new agency and did not have an extensive campaign track record. Whilst we were elated, the notion of landing an international company was pretty scary. Allow me to share.
Customer: International motor manufacturer
Context: The customer was spending >50% more on technical personnel training than the industry norm. An internationally accredited quality control system was in place. This facility’s quality rating was nonetheless, the lowest of the five facilities in the world.
Challenge: Formulate and implement an internal campaign that significantly improves the quality rating in six months.
Use of the Model: Instead of plunging into a conventional ‘Observe-Design-Implement-Monitor’ approach, we decided to first try and make sense of what we were dealing with. (If the truth be told, we did not know what else to do). The team started by running two sequential competitions. The first required the production staff to list as many unique ways as possible that a vehicle could be damaged during routine production. The second competition, which ran one week later, asked the same staff, to plot the consolidated list of unique ‘damages’, in the model. (A user-guide translated into the local vernacular was provided).
This provided the team with insight from the target audience perspective which allowed for ‘smarter’ messaging and response mix alignment, in terms of facts, opinion, causes of quality loss and consequences of quality loss.
Solution: This in turn made the campaign messaging across various channels (Print media, On-site collateral, invitations, scripts and industrial/participative theatre) more pertinent and more effective.
Result: Vehicle assembly quality targets (Measured by the No. of defects) exceeded by 20%.
Could we quantify the role the model played in the success of the campaign? No. Nevertheless, in my view, trying to separate facts from emotions, even qualitatively, was indeed helpful. Brand value is determined by numerous factors and can be damaged by indifferent communication. Trying to better align your response mix makes sense.