Our daily routines, habits, and expectations have all been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic — our understanding of the world, challenged. We continue to practice social distancing and isolate ourselves far more than we were ever accustomed to. And yet, thanks to our increasingly digital lives, we’re all still connected 24/7. And that means the world around us still impacts how we think and feel. It’s all even more complicated now.
Which is why brands need better ways to account for this complexity. Traditional brand trackers, often focused one-dimensionally on consumer perceptions of a brand, don’t always incorporate the external factors that influence brand perception. And in a world as turbulent as ours, that’s absolutely essential.
Below are three elements to consider building into your brand tracker to make it more effective and actionable in this evolving consumer landscape.
Brand Health Tracking in Uncertain Times
#1. Cultural Drivers
In more ways than one, the line between our business and personal lives has blurred considerably. Accordingly, consumers expect brands to convey a strong stance on cultural issues.
It’s important, therefore, to uncover and track key cultural drivers impacting your category. This will help you understand how things are changing at a macro level, and what the potential impact could be on both your brand and competitors’. For example: what cultural shifts are emerging from our current crises? What societal opportunities or issues will arise that businesses should have a stance on? What new consumer values will be prevalent across the board, or in key target segments?
Think of this macro-view analysis as a crystal ball that empowers you to better predict the future and make more forward-thinking decisions.
#2. Experience Impact
Millennials and Gen Zers are experts at sussing out disingenuous brands, as proven by the backlash to some of the generic corporate responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. This tells us that brands aren’t always aware how their brand experiences can appear insincere and inconsistent at various touchpoints.
It’s important to look for inconsistencies across your brand experience and assess the varied ways a consumer may come into contact with your product or service. Doing so will help you understand how different touchpoints contribute to overall perceptions of your brand. Are these touchpoints working together, or are they working against one another? Are they reinforcing your overall brand strategy, or are they hindering it? You need to know.
#3. Employee Perspective
From the very start of the pandemic, consumers have been applauding essential workers and paying closer attention to how companies are treating their employees. In one of our surveys, for instance, we found that 56% of people will stop buying their preferred brands if those brands don’t do good things for their employees. Since labor practices are increasingly in the spotlight, it’s more important than ever for consumers that a brand’s “insides” reflect its “outsides.”
If you want to mitigate any blind spots, it’s important to understand your employees through the same lens as your consumer facing brand. What are your employees’ perceptions of your brand? Are they aligned with your values? Are they inspired to stay with you and be an advocate? Applying the employee lens is crucial to understanding perceptions and can help spotlight key internal and external areas that need improvement.
Brands don’t exist in isolation. If you want to truly understand how your brand is experienced and perceived, you need to create a future-facing brand tracker that digs deep into how human complexities and global events are impacting your brand’s place in the world — and how those perceptions are likely to evolve. We can help you do that. Get in touch to learn more.