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Many marketers go through their careers never questioning their brand health measures, and that is the driving reason behind why brand health methods have remained largely unchanged for so long, despite clear opportunities to improve upon these critical marketing tools.

Existing brand health measures rely almost exclusively on survey data to gather their findings. While surveys are insightful, they are also prone to collection errors through inaccurate recall and distorted response by surveyed consumers.

The problem with surveys lies in the contrived way they take place. A survey does not observe consumers in their natural setting, where they would behave completely normally.

Instead, it places consumers in an artificial situation and proceeds to ask questions that the consumer may or may not answer correctly. In a way, survey insights are like those about animal behavior observed in a zoo—such insights are not fully reflective of how the animal behaves in the wild.

Marketers can do better by creating more-direct and less-biased approaches to exploring brand health to add to our arsenal of marketing research tools. Rather than relying solely on survey data, they should find additional methods that seek to analyze consumers' relationship to brands in the field by observing real-world consumer attitudes.

The natural language processing method of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) offers an avenue to do just that.

Brand health is ultimately a measure of how strong the connections are within consumer minds between a brand and its intended brand equities, which includes all those tangible and intangible assets of a brand, including its name, symbols and associations. LSI is well suited to explore these connections, since linguists developed this tool to mine large repositories of text for conceptual connections between words.

Accordingly, LSI can be readily repurposed to explore conceptual connections between words identifying brand (i.e., brand names) and the words marking their brand equities.

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image of Matthew Syrett

Matthew Syrett is a marketing consultant/analyst—a hybrid marketer, film producer, technologist, and statistician. He was vice-president of product development at the LinkShare Corporation and vice-president at Grey Interactive. Reach him via syrett (at) gmail (dot) com.