Brand Tracking Gone Wrong: the Vicious Circle

The Common Nature of Business Problems

There is one good thing that all business problems have in common: they are specific. Think of the three most challenging topics you had in the past 2 months: they probably felt vague only as long as you did not understand them well enough.

This is why the technique of “5 Whys” is so powerful. It is widely accepted that asking “Why” 5 times in a row brings you closer to the core of all kinds of problems. It helps you to identify the root cause — and to get rid of it. The rise of Design Thinking & User Research brought new attention to the “5 Why” technique that has a long tradition in different varieties of quality management.

The good thing about specific problems is that you can find specific solutions. They guide your thought process.

How can we stop plastics pollution? Sounds challenging and utterly complex.

How might I carry my groceries home without using single-use plastic bags? You probably have 3 options that come to mind immediately.

Tracking Branding Performance

Let’s talk about one specific business problem. At Dalia, we interviewed more than 40 Brand Managers of consumer-facing companies. Tracking branding success was a shared struggle. Understanding brand performance over time — and which marketing measures actually contribute to the bottom line of their company — is challenging in the fuzzy context of branding and brand marketing.

Keeping track of the most relevant brand KPIs has the potential to be a really specific solution for this specific challenge — this is what we call Brand Tracking.

A. Defining a set of relevant KPIs

B. Find a smart way to track them

C. Execute & learn

Even though many companies started with a really slick solution in mind, they ended up spending hundreds of thousands on elaborate market research solutions.

Whereas a deeper understanding of the market and competitive environment is not a bad thing per se, these companies somehow ended up with a Swiss army knife even though they needed a screwdriver.

We heard this story quite often — and started calling it “the Vicious Circle of Brand Tracking”.

“The Vicious Circle of Brand Tracking”

Most companies start with the ambition to track success of branding activities — and little else. Young & fast-growing companies especially have really precise needs in this area (read more on how Startups do Brand Tracking).

Most market research companies that are capable of providing these insights run a traditional “key account” / “consultant selling” approach of doing business. We have heard of five-digit minimum project budgets — which is enormous for small and young companies, no matter how grown-up they are.

If the initial impetus to learn more about the company’s brand health is strong enough, people are willing to jump over this barrier. This, naturally, triggers new thoughts: if it costs so much money, we should try to reimburse the cost by leveraging it for more insights. We might also ask this and that. This is where the vicious circle unfolds.


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Christoph Dölitzsch

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