The Importance of Tracking the Impact of Brand Strategy

One of the most pressing issues that place brand strategists need to deal with is the increasing interest in the impact of their strategies on the places where they work, particularly from brand stakeholders, politicians and the media.

This is a subject that our consultants team is increasingly having to address from our clients, and we believe this will continue to be a major consideration for individuals and organisations funding the preparation, implementation and management of place and destination brand strategies.

So, how is this consideration manifesting itself?

For the politicians who allocate public funding to pay for the preparation of brand strategies the concern is to ensure that the money being spent (including on consultant’s fees) will, or is, producing positive and required results. By positive, we mean improved perceptions among consumers in target market audiences on the offer of the place, or the experience of being there, or media responses to proposals for improvement in the offer and experience. By required results we mean agreed objectives being fulfilled and agreed targets being met, or progress towards them being positive.

For the other stakeholders in the brand, often a combination of private companies, organisations, professional bodies, civic society groups, and the media, the key concerns are a mixture of: is this a good use of public funds, is my investment in a brand offer or experience going to be worth the money, are the brand offers going to benefit my community or special interest group?

To address these concerns, brand strategies need to be “tied down” to specific actions, specific projects, specific timescales and budgets, specific objectives and specific Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). In short, they need to be measured and tracked on a regular basis. And people need to be given the responsibility for tracking, analysing and reporting on the performance of the brand in action.

For such a system of rigorous tracking and impact assessment to work, several requirements need to be met. These are:

  • A detailed understanding among all brand stakeholders of the objectives of the brand strategy and their KPI’s and the type and range of projects (existing or proposed) identified to realise the individual objectives. We term these as the “On-Brand” projects, projects that exemplify the brand in action, projects that will be the keys to its success.
  • A willingness of public and private stakeholders to bring forward “On-Brand” projects, with detailed KPI’s and proposals for collecting data to enable their impact to be measured and assessed.
  • A willingness by project sponsors to alter the way projects are being delivered if they are not producing desired results, tobring them more “On-Brand”.
  • An ability to only collect performance information on KPI’s that has a high utility and a low or reasonable cost.
  • A willingness to share methodologies to monitor and evaluate project performance among all brand stakeholders, to raise their level of competence to do so.
  • A way of bringing together all the data on individual project performance to track the overall impact on the brand’s objectives, in addition to those of the project.

In addition, those charged with managing the implementation of the brand strategy need to have a commitment to publishing the results of their tracking activity and report on them to their stakeholders, their communities and the media.

Being able to measure and point to successful brand delivery is vital for accessing the future resources required for investment in the medium to long-term for delivery of the promised brand offer.

In doing so, Brand Managers need to look beyond the regular measurement of the KPI’s of the brand ‘s projects and the impacts they are demonstrating; they also need to capture the sense of momentum and engagement that implementing the brand strategy is generating, which is so important for its long-term sustainability.

About this blog

The purpose of this series of blog posts is to share our collective experience (including working with each other) as practicing place brand consultants on developing and implementing place and destination brand strategies. Our purpose is to inform current practice and contribute to the debate among practitioners and academics about what might be effective and cutting edge practice in the field.

We are:

  • Malcolm Allan – President, Bloom Consulting
  • Jeannette Hanna – Founder of Trajectory, Toronto
  • Jose Filipe Torres and Gonzalo Villar – Founders of Bloom Consulting, Madrid I Lisbon
  • Roger Hobkinson – Director, Destination Consulting | Global Development Solutions | Colliers International, Dublin

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.