Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel–what’s causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors. A classic funnel would measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. But in the change of consumer behavior over the last 10 years, I would now add SEARCH between consider and purchase.
At the very least, you should be measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates. While sales, share and profits are the obvious measurements of a brand, they are easy to see but are the end result.
Brand Health vs Brand Wealth
When we first analyze a brand’s performance, we start by looking at the wealth of the brand and look at things like sales, share, margins. That’s a great starting point, but anyone can see those numbers. But that’s like judging someone’s health just by looking at them. You’d miss out on the cholesterol, blood pressure and the internal health an xray or MRI might show. Looking at Brand Health would include looking at how well the brand funnel performs, voice of customer, satisfaction scores and any major changes in market trends. Think of Brand Wealth as the measures you can easily see, and the Brand Health as those measures you can’t easily see.
The brand funnel provides a rich diagnosis of the true health of the brand before they even show up in share reports and provides possible indicators of future performance. Almost like a finger print, every brand has a unique brand funnel. Your brand will have certain strength as well as leaks in the funnel.
Analyzing Brand Funnels
Here are the five steps to analyzing the brand funnels.
- First take a look at the absolute Brand Funnel scores, compare them to last year, compare to competitors and versus the category norms. An Indifferent brand will have a skinny funnel, a Like It brand will have a funnel that quickly narrows near purchase. Loved Brands will have a more robust funnel, maybe with one easily identified gap. And Beloved Brands have no gaps on the funnel.
- Then you want to look the Brand Funnel Ratios, finding the percent conversion from one stage to the next. To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel. For instance in the example above, take the Familiar score of 87% and divide it by the Awareness score of 93% and the ratio conversion is 91%. That means that 91% of those who become Aware will move to Familiar.
- What’s most useful is to compare the Ratios of your Brand to the Ratios of your nearest competitor. In this second part of the analysis, the ratio becomes the focus.
- You then want to compare the ratios, finding the gap at each of the stages. You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand.
- Analyzing the difference between the two brands finds the biggest gaps and begins telling a strategic story for the gap.
Matching the Funnel up The Brand Love Curve
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans. It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand.
With each stage of the Brand Love Curve, the consumer will see your brand differently. The worst case is when consumers have “no opinion” of your brand. They just don’t care. It’s like those restaurants you stop at in the middle of no-where that are called “restaurant”. In those cases, there is no other choice so you may as well just name it restaurant. But in highly competitive markets, you survive by being liked, but you thrive by being loved. Be honest with yourself as to what stage you are at, and try to figure out how to be more loved, with a vision of getting to the Beloved Brand stage.
- Indifferent: When you are indifferent, you’ll have a very skinny funnel, starting with very little awareness and consideration. The issue is no one really knows about your brand. What could be holding your brand back is a) concept that’s not breaking through into the marketplace b) poor execution behind the awareness driving programs or c) lack of investment behind the right strategy. The strategic focus should be on driving Awareness and Consideration to establish your brand into the minds of consumers and in the marketplace. Align the brand promise and the communication of that brand promise to begin gaining customers.
- Like It: At the Like It stage, the funnel is fairly strong at the top but quickly narrows at purchase and has a very weak bottom part of the brand funnel. As people see your brand as a good rational choice, they might consider it and use it, but it lacks separation from the other brands and it’s missing that emotional connection. Brands stuck here usually focus on what they do (features) and not what the consumer wants (benefits) In the funnel, you’ll see pretty strong awareness and consideration but you’ll lose out at the purchase stage and have no real repeat or loyalty at all. You’ll notice fairly high trade spend just so you can keep your share going–and you use price as a weapon to close the deal. The best strategy here is to begin to Separate Your Brand from the clutter of the market, by establishing a brand promise based on benefits–rational and emotional. A brand like Dove was at the Like It stage back in the 1990s. Only when they could shift from talking about themselves to talking about the consumers would they be able to establish more love for their brand.
- Love It: At the Love It stage, the funnel starts to fill out, but might still have some gaps. Your focus should be on taking the connection consumers have with your brand and drive repeat and loyalty. Strategically, focus on ways to Tug at the Heart of your consumers so you can strengthen that connection you have. This is where you take a little bit of love and try to become a Beloved brand. And you should aggressively analyze any gaps on the funnel and attack them. Also, once you start to see strength versus one of your competitors, you can start to leverage that power to squeeze them out and attack their weaknesses on the brand funnel. When Samsung started to become a Loved Brand in the TV market, they took all that power to own the in-store environment shutting out brands like LG, Sharp and Panasonic. They shifted some spend from Awareness down to Purchase. Samsung now is using the cell phone and very emotional programs to try to shift from a little bit of love into a Beloved Brand.
- Beloved Brand: At the Beloved stage, the brand funnel should be very robust, better than any competitors. With such strong funnel, the strategy shifts towards Continuing the Magic with creativity in marketing programs or Innovation in the product. The analysis here is to keep analyzing the funnel over time and versus competitors on a regular basis and any weakness is attacked immediately before a competitor can discover and utilize. A Beloved Brand like Special K with all their success, has decided to attack their original cereal formula to improve the taste.
Attack Your Gaps
I encourage brands to analyse the Leaks by looking at how the consumer might move along the brand going from Indifferent (unaware, not noticed) to Like It (interested, bought) to Love It (satisfied, repeater) and Beloved Brand for Life (Fan, outspoken). At each stage, match up what the consumer feels about the brand as well as what the possible reasoning for why they might reject the brand.
Brand Leaders like Sony, started to see cracks at the purchase stage as consumers started seeing just how much better Samsung when they were able to compare brands at the store level. In fact, people hung onto the Sony brand much longer than they should have. That’s actually a sign of the power that Beloved Brand status gives you.
Use Brand Funnels to Track and Manage the Health of Your Brand
To read more about how the love for a brand creates more power and profits:
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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand. I only do two things: 1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better. I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth. And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.