Brand perceptions aren’t static — consumer loyalties can last over a lifetime or end in a few short days. And that often runs counter to a company’s own brand perception, which can remain pointlessly unchanged. Most companies, even many with huge research budgets, don’t carefully monitor the clarity, or lack of clarity, their brand has with customers and prospects at any given point in time. A brand value proposition that made a lot of sense under one set of industry circumstances may degrade to irrelevance and become a commodity position if it stays too long in one place.
Most often, brand attributes are monitored in large-scale tracking studies conducted in waves three, six, or 12 months apart. If your category evolves faster than the frequency of your tracking studies, these periodic reads may provide irrelevant historical information and present a picture that bears little resemblance to today’s reality — especially when you consider that it often takes four to six weeks from the end of survey fielding until the report gets on your desk.
Many organizations are today migrating towards “continuous” brand tracking, with smaller samples fielded each week or month that are then read in the aggregate over a rolling six, eight, or 12 weeks. While a bit more expensive, this approach can repeatedly check the temperature of customers and prospects to ensure you are maintaining a healthy relationship, in addition to potentially measuring the impacts of marketing stimulus programs on brand attributes with greater reliability.
The bottom line is you need to clearly know what your brand is and what it means to the target customer. If you don’t, you are prone to serious over- or underestimations of your brand strength. Without an effective brand scorecard, you might not have an accurate picture of where your brand stands or where it’s headed. With one, you have no excuses not to.