5 Must-Dos for Brand Building and Measurement in 2022

By Liza Nebel, Co-Founder, President & COO of BlueOcean

Everyone is watching, waiting for brands to make their move. Because it’s finally agreed, brand drives double digital growth company value. How you achieve value is through brand agility, or what I like to call “active brand management”— drawing parallels to financial vehicles being managed to outpace the market.

Brand is now the de facto lever to drive significant growth as the consumer and business worlds become highly commoditized.

As companies plan for the year ahead, the application of marketing science on organizational initiatives around awareness, trust, and relevance will be at the forefront of every marketer’s mind. According to GroupM, global ad spend will see a double-digit rebound from the past year, surpassing $1 trillion by 2026. With such a sizeable investment, we better be able to interpret effectiveness beyond showcasing some survey data from a few quarters ago, don’t you think?

Further, our collective behavior has changed over the past year and a half, and with it, the ways that customers interact with brands have shifted. The dust has settled and we must make haste on building modern, resilient, and valued brands that require a mix of old and new approaches, all while also being mindful of maximizing financial resources.

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Here are five ways to move beyond gut instinct to successfully build your brand in 2022 and beyond:

1. Move beyond the same-old surveys that are only taken by few actual customers and armies of bots

 Online market research has become one of the most widely used methodologies among us marketers—who are under increased pressure to run more campaigns with shorter lead times. However, survey responses are at an all-time low and riddled with bias and bots, which leaves marketers wondering how best to interpret the data and forces them to make important decisions based on snapshots in time. While I’m not suggesting doing away with surveys altogether, it is important to bring a second fully-objective solution to the table as a complement to your existing methods.

2. Start always-on benchmarking and democratize data

Benchmarks have been crucial for understanding how our marketing efforts compare to other organizations. They help us to define what our goals are in the first place, provide us insight into the gaps in our own strategy, and set us on the right path to success. When thinking about how to set your benchmarks, it’s important to select those that allow for regular, consistent, and objective updates that are accessible to people at all levels.

Once you’ve identified and implemented the right benchmarks, you’ll want to start distributing intelligent and actionable data to everyone in your organization because the brand lives beyond the orchestration being driven by marketing leads. At BlueOcean, we’ve found that upon first look at their company’s data, users gain great visibility into their past year’s performance, but within 6 to 9 months of active intelligence being delivered through a platform, they can actually see their own team’s actions driving brand scores up—a win for both the company and for employee morale.

3. Build company-wide OKRs with brand at the center

 Now that you’ve empowered your employees with the right information, you’ll need to align everyone with overarching objectives and key results (OKRs). This provides much-needed clarity for each individual to understand company priorities and ensure they are each working towards the same goal. Though it seems easy enough at face value, experience has taught me that too often people are spending their time on the wrong things.

As OKRs trickle down through an organization, departments, teams, and individuals become entrusted with the responsibility for delivering certain results, leading to both increased employee engagement and support. At BlueOcean, 91% of our users that integrate brand scoring into the rhythm of business processes and measurement programs are most successful when they identify three key brand levers to track directly from reporting that the entire organization can rally behind.

4. Educate Finance that sales and marketing teams need to work together to own the big picture

There’s no way around it—brand building has a serious measurement problem. I’m sure it’s been asked more than once, “how exactly does one quantify a return on investment in brand awareness to the Office of Finance?” As a result, sales and marketing teams regularly allocate their slice of the pie toward capturing the easy-to-justify customers at the bottom of the funnel at the expense of the less tangible awareness at the top. And this skew toward bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns has significant implications for long-term value.

For growth-oriented companies, we must recognize that brand building and reaching future customers are one and the same. As one article put it, “If 80% of the stock price is based on sales 10 years in the future, and 95% of buyers are out-of-market, then it makes absolutely zero sense to spend 100% of your budget on short-term “lead generation.” With this in mind, your teams are much more likely to appreciate the value of long-term strategies and much more likely to make investments in campaigns that generate future cash flows.

5. Prioritize building brand memories

 It’s been said that the most important game in marketing is the long game. Strong mental association is a core component of a healthy brand, but it is well documented that human memory fades over time, and its effect on decision-making goes with it. While a new launch or a big announcement is sure to win some easy attention, the real power of enduring brand building comes from consistency.

Well-established companies like Microsoft and Google didn’t become valuable due to one successful ad campaign. Instead, they have focused their attention on creating a steady drumbeat of cohesive, memorable, and evergreen brand messaging. As Professor John Dawes said, “advertising works by building and refreshing memory structures in the minds of buyers who may not purchase for several years. These “small nudges” add up to big sales effects when done at scale through “sophisticated mass marketing” that reaches every category buyer.”

Guesswork has been largely portrayed as a macho, individualist trait that has audiences frothing for the next scene. The problem is that marketing is about the grit and grind to prop up a brand while also getting the buy-in required to make a substantive difference. AI and intelligent data that lets us see the power of our actions are bringing us ever closer to the nuance of moments and the memories that define our brand and our relationship to customers.

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