Your brand is one of the most valuable assets your company owns. It is yours alone. It is the name and identity associated with your products and services. It is the reputation built in the mind of your customers and users. It is your most visible and vocal representative in the marketplace. And as such, it is a valuable asset that provides a powerful contribution to your company.
Make it your brand’s goal to increase in value with every action it takes. To manage your brand’s effectiveness in achieving this goal through its online presence, here are two aspects to evaluate and monitor:
1) What constitutes your brand’s online presence?
Make a list. You should be able to categorize every online presence under one of two headings—”In Control Of” and “Not In Of Control Of.”
Here are some obvious ones:
- Your brand’s website = In Control. Online product reviews on a 3rd party site = Not In Control.
- Your own Facebook posts = In Control. Comments on your Facebook posts = Not In Control.
- Editorial from press release = In Control. Twitter posts by reporters at your press event = Not In Control.
When you have your list, test the “In Control” elements for:
- brand consistency, both verablly and visually,
- relevance and tone for the channel,
- clarity of message, and
- appropriate value proposition for the audience(s).
For the “Not In Control” list, look for:
- recurring themes, both good and bad,
- customer types or segments who are engaging, as well as other sources of reviews / commentary,
- overall impression of your brand vs. your products, and
- evidence that your brand marketing is working, i.e., Are you gaining the position of value you seek in the minds of your customers and end users?
This exercise should show you whether your brand is doing a good job on the “In Control” elements. If it’s inconsistent and disjointed, you may need to go back to your brand foundation to make sure it is relevant and clear to all who use it (this article includes discussion of Brand Foundation) Or, if the foundation is sound, you may need a better understanding of how to calibrate your digital brand presence.
For the “Not In Control” elements, you’ll need to look at the sources and connections these brand references have to the actions your brand takes in the marketplace or the experiences it creates. Which leads us to the second aspect you need to evaluate and monitor.
2) What directly affects your brand’s online presence?
For the elements on the “In Control” list, it can be assumed that people within your organization are responsible. Given a solid brand foundation, strategic brand interpretation skills (verbal and visual), and a well-documented and understood digital brand strategy (from a recent calibration), any poorly executed elements can be brought into line fairly easily.
The more difficult elements to rectify are those on the “Not In Control” list. This will take a deeper level of detective work to discover the cause and motivation driving items on the list.
Are negative comments on social media the result of direct experience with your brand, or do they signify a loyalty to one of your competitors? Are product complaints due to poor product performance, lack of knowledge about correct use, or false expectations created by salespeople? Are clumsy online purchasing experiences being unfairly associated with your brand? Are branded product comparisons truly unbiased?
Whatever the cause, these “Not In Control” brand occurrences exist, and can either help your brand or hurt it. The important thing is to investigate and understand why they’re there. Don’t be tempted to accept unfounded opinions. Ask for the research to support any suppositions.
You may know Ben Franklin’s famous quote, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Well, that’s even more true in today’s online world. A brand reputation can unravel in minutes, even seconds. Which is why due diligence and constant monitoring is vital.
Brand value can be built online, but it can also be degraded. Give your brand a solid foundation, and understand all the situations that can initiate a “Not In Control” online presence. Then do your best to get ahead of it.
Some further reading on how to improve your success: