Brands, not everything that counts can be counted

When the left brainers get near branding, the first thing they want to do is create a system with measurable outputs. So dependent are they on creating a hard science, that they often start to dictate the brand’s destiny.

“If we can’t measure it using these algorithms, is shouldn’t be done!”, they argue. They are like the short term CEO who thinks the only thing worth doing is something that will show up on the quarterly results.

Unfortunately for all of us, customer behaviour cannot be reduced to a single system, and sales cycles do not coincide with quarterly reports. Just ask Kodak about the impact of not being able to look ahead at the changing needs of customers, beyond one quarter.

Having said that, we still need to consider brand measures, and industry research shows we are not even doing that. The US Association of National Advertisers found that 55% of senior marketing executives did not have quantitative measures of brand value.

Here is an even more staggering thought, 64% of the 118 marketing officers and senior marketing executives polled said that:

brands do not influence decisions made at their organisation.*

Say what?

Let us ponder the enormity of that…….

Effectively they are saying:

“customer perceptions” do not influence decisions made at their organisation.    gulp!.

Digging deeper, 2 key reasons brands did not influence executive decisions were:

1. remuneration incentives did not support the brand’s importance 51%

2. an inability to prove the brand’s financial benefit 49%.*

Common sense says if they could prove the brands financial benefits the remuneration incentives would there, so “financial proof” is the single biggest reason.

And so, because brand investment cannot be made a hard science, many businesses, 64% in fact, polled in the US, said they did not consider it in their business decision making.

Financial proof may not be a “neat algorithm” but there are correlations between customer perceptions, customer behavior, market performance and financial value…but business fails to invest in understanding these measures. If they do invest, because the pay backs are not absolute correlations, a hard science, like physics, they block it.

So what are  lessons of being in a marketplace that does not invest in brand:

1. Opportunity. Investment in brand is still a competitive point of difference. Embedding the brand and its measures into an organisation’s culture and incentive system is key.

2. Gloom. Any business that does not understand their brand and its emotional connections to their customers is in trouble. Take your eyes of the brand and smart competitor will run away with your customers.

Hey and I will finish with a quote from Einstein:

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out how that applies to branding.

* slideshare:


Louise Kelly

Managing Director

Hearts and Minds


2 thoughts on “Brands, not everything that counts can be counted

  1. I’m glad you posted this because I just had three articles come up in my feed reader about data (how to manage it, why it’s important, etc). Though there are thousands of examples, one sums up my opinion: Apple vs. Microsoft. Apple has a strong brand, Microsoft doesn’t. Even though Apple computers are often five times as expensive as Microsoft, Apple is still successful. If the prices were the same, Apple would most-likely dominate.

    Also, data is often gathered outside of realistic situations. Marketing firms will survey a group and ask “if this were to happen, how would you respond.” But no one can be sure how they’ll respond until they actually do.

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