I recently heard a very eloquent way of defining brand equity. Kevin Lane Keller (Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and author of the book “Strategic Brand Management”, says that brand equity is not one thing, but rather, the sum of two parts: customer-based and financial-based equity.

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Sometimes, reputation management is about realizing opportunities. Positive reputations can create a more fertile field for sowing the seeds of success in terms of gaining “permission” to operate more freely based on the trust and confidence of the general public, interest groups, government regulators, employees, and customers. This provides clear benefits when introducing new products or markets, making acquisitions, or changing pricing. It can also reduce the cost of recruiting and lower the cost of capital investments by engendering confidence in the financial community.

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Reputation management is, in many respects, risk management. To some degree, money is spent on managing the company’s reputation to minimize the negative effect on shareholder value of events such as privacy breaches, product liability lawsuits, environmental mishaps, labor actions, or other things management wouldn’t like to read in the newspaper. This is commonly known as “putting water in the bucket in case a fire breaks out.”

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Like brand equity, corporate reputation is an intangible asset that has some very tangible ramifications. It has the power to affect every aspect of the business, including enhancing or destroying shareholder value. But when it comes to tracking and measuring the value of investments we make in enhancing reputation, it seems surveys of investor and analyst attitudes are all that make it onto our marketing dashboards.

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It has been widely publicized that marketers are not satisfied with their ability to effectively measure their marketing efforts. Top executives and department leaders increasingly demand higher quality measurement systems, pushing CMOs toward the constant struggle of trying to better communicate marketing's impact on the bottom line. The challenge is exacerbated by the fact that each department looks at marketing through a different lens, and thus has different goals, needs, and ways of defining value.Read More

Every company and possibly every brand will have its own view of the most crucial components of the customer’s brand decision process. Regardless of the approach you are using (or if you’re just starting out), the key consideration is to find the elements that are most predictive of the future behavior of prospects and customers.

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If you ask 100 companies to show you their brand scorecards (and we have), 20 will look at you quizzically, another 20 will show you elaborate consumer surveys of brand attribute ratings, and the remaining 60 will pull out a research summary of the latest scores on the classic “hierarchy of effects” waterfall:

☐ 74% of consumers are aware of the brand on an unaided basis

• 61% indicate an overall favorable impression of the brand

♦ 47% indicate a willingness to try the product

... and so on.

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Despite all the hand-wringing over marketing getting "a seat at the boardroom table," the irreversible trend we’re seeing in measurement of marketing effectiveness has improved both the return on marketing expenditures and the credibility of the marketing function within the corporation. Database technology, analytics, and Web presentation tools have all contributed to an unstoppable wave of desire to understand and quantify the impact of marketing expenditures on the company’s bottom line. All this is unquestionably for the better.
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How do you know if your "brand advertising" is creating real financial value?

Let’s say you have a tracking study out in the market in which you’ve identified 15 key brand attributes and have a sampling of customers and prospects rating your brand vs. competitors on each attribute. You also ask about self-reported purchase activity in your category. You survey 200 people each month and read the results on a rolling three-month basis.
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Most of us have a pretty keen ability to look backward and know where we’ve been. Many of us have even advanced that skill to be able to look around and know where we are at the moment. But knowing whether you’re on track for where you expect to be six, 12, 18 months from now … that’s something only a very few managers have mastered.
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