In an increasingly fluid environment, which most organizations are facing, maintaining a strategic focus on a brand’s promise is even more important than ever. But brand management can no longer be built around charts and graphs. Organizations need to tap into an ongoing flow of insights to make tactical, adaptive choices from week to week, allocating (and reallocating) resources across product, services, and marketing.
One of the best analogues I can think of is Formula 1 (F1) racing, which involves competition across the world’s highest-performing cars. F1 teams capture up to 18,000 channels of data from each of their two cars and drivers, generating about 250GB of data per race weekend per car and 10TB of data per year. They use all these data to make upgrades to the car, to forecast strategic options into future races, and to guide their actions during the race. The teams that get their cars to the checkered flags are those that best learn from and adapt based on all of those insights.
Modern Brand Experience Management
Brands that want to win, that want to fully engage consumers, that want to create amazing experiences, will need to tap into insights like an F1 team. Today, however, most brand management efforts are nowhere near as nimble as an F1 team. That’s why organizations need to adopt a modernized approach to brand experience management, which puts much less emphasis on tracking a static set of parameters and much more emphasis on putting brand insights to use across an organization. This type of high-performance brand experience management is made up of three components:
- Dynamic Instrumentation, to ensure continuous learning
- Actionable Intelligence, directed to the decision-maker empowered to take action
- Adaptive Processes, where insights are part of the rhythm of the business
Dynamic instrumentation gives you a broader, contextualized perspective on your consumers, enabling access to and integration of a wide range of data sources that enable agile, targeted actions. Your mix of instruments should include solicited data, using implicit and explicit metrics to help build a structured, stable, and standardized base of knowledge; unsolicited data, like search, social, and behavioral, which are critical to helping catch the “unknown unknowns” before they catch you; and operational data that let you connect your actions with consumer experience and business outcomes.
A senior brand marketing manager, keen to drive the salience of her brand and monitor the impact of her latest campaign, receives a monthly brand and ad tracking update. In addition, between waves of tracking, she gets daily updates on brand searches and mentions along with the results of a digital brand lift study. With these instruments at her fingertips, she can rapidly establish a campaign effectiveness baseline, set targets for her monthly tracking results to better evaluate performance, and make decisions on next steps.
Successful brand management programs, like winning F1 teams, get the relevant insight and action recommendation to the right person at the right time. “Left front tyre wearing quickly, you’ll need to lift and coast into the turns and go easy on the acceleration coming out of the corners. Tyres need to last another 20 laps and our model shows we need the tyre temps below 110 C to get us there.”
With a modern brand XM program in place, the marketing lead for the brand gets a tailored, weekly update on brand salience, her most important KPI, along with impact assessments of active campaigns. Declining brand salience is flagged for attention, as well as a lift in salience among younger women, targeted through a new brand awareness campaign. When you have a brand intelligence system that delivers actionable intelligence, it becomes the single source of truth for your brand, it pushes the appropriate action recommendation to the relevant stakeholders, and it delivers simple, intuitive, and useful access to metrics, analytics, and guidance for the appropriate decision-maker.
Organizations that have a modern XM program for brand have a bias toward action, which requires rapid insights from multiple listening posts – solicited and unsolicited – and the ability to suggest options for action and adapt tactics.
Returning to our brand manager with declining brand salience, when she projects the results from her targeted campaign to the full consumer base, she sees that she can return brand salience to its previous levels over the next two months by doubling her spend and expanding the reach of her campaign. Modern brand XM embeds insights into the rhythm of your business, helps you identify options for action, and provides rapid feedback on your actions through multiple sources so you can fail fast and accelerate success. When implemented, XM for brands can help you lean into action, mitigate risks, and give your organization the ability and the confidence to know when, how, and where to act.
Empowering Brand Managers of the Future
Many fans of Formula 1 racing decry the influence of engineering, technology, and data supplanting the driver as a relevant variable in the racing outcome. I feel quite the opposite. Putting the best drivers in the best machines with the most advanced data and analytics package is a recipe for success. The driver has the power to race the car as he sees fit, taking into consideration the strategy for that race, the continuous data/analytics, along with direct, in-the-moment experience of the car on the track. All these inputs matter as he makes split-second decisions, sometimes overriding guidance from the analysts, to push his vehicle to the best outcome he can achieve that day.
The same is true for brand management. Successful organizations will provide strong brand managers with the tools to ensure that their brand promises come to life across every interaction and that the organization can respond quickly to solve problems and to capture opportunities. CMOs and their teams will combine their experience and intuition with powerful data and analytics from across every possible brand touch-point, giving themselves the ability to manage risk, adapt in the moment, and drive the best possible brand outcomes.
The bottom line: Modern Experience Management will accelerate brands to F1 speed.
Frank P. Zinni Jr., Ph.D., is a Product XM Scientist with Qualtrics, specializing in Brand XM
Bruce Temkin, CCXP, is the Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute