Because you’re looking at the wrong things.
A brand is not a logo or a product.
A brand is not a mission or a “feeling”.
A brand is not a panel in Google analytics or a report from Shopify.
A brand is not your ROAS.
A brand is not a funnel.
A brand is a result.
The result of creating a strategy that starts with building trust with your audience.
Trust that comes AFTER the sales funnel and creates real growth by delight, empowerment and connection until your brand is part of their everyday lives.
And those connections don’t end with the bottom of a funnel.
So yeah, we lied: you can measure Branding Success … but not in the way you think.
The Brand Ladder
You own your product. Your Customers own the brand. – Marty Numeier
Once again, loud enough for the people in the back:
Brands are built after the sale.
Too many marketers chase the results of sales-driven campaigns, sacrificing long term growth for short term profit, using pages of graphs and KPIs to delight executives with their clever returns on investment after a new round of ad buys.
They ask “how can you measure this without a panel in Shopify or a graph in Google Analytics?”
And then they wonder why their brand isn’t growing.
It turns out that measuring effectiveness off your branding can be done, and it’s cheap. It’s almost free actually….the only thing it costs is your patience and an effort to stay with your customers after the sale. Lasting brands aren’t built on 2-for-1 promotions or SEO tactics, and they’re not built by pulling levels in an ad manager back-end…they’re built through continued connection and engineering holistic growth.
So no: We can’t measure brand success with a funnel.
A funnel is designed to sift through the many to capture the few and thrives on “divide and conquer”…find your market niche and fill it through targeting, analytics and segmentation. Your business grows through sales.
Branding is different, it’s built through “multiple and conquer”, and it begins with your existing customer, learning how they use your product or interact with your company, and helping them grow through you.
This revolutionary concept of how a brand grows was created by visionary marketer Marty Neumeier in his book “The Brand Flip”. Instead of a funnel, He uses the “Brand Ladder” or the “Brand Commitment Scale” to explain how your brand develops through 4 stages of post-sale customer connection.
The ladder begins with Satisfaction.
This is the easy part: “Is my customer satisfied with the company and what I made?” You should be knocking this on out of the park with your incredible product or content, right?
This is actually the easiest stage to measure: repeat customers, a lack of complaints and overall sales growth can be effective metrics to show if people are buying and coming back.
This builds Confidence, and confidence is the bedrock of your brand’s growth. Without confidence, do not pass go, do not collect $200 and go back to the drawing board to get the basics down. You can throw infinite money to advertise and keep selling products, but your brand cannot truly grow without confidence.
The next step up the ladder is Delight, where you do one better than simply delivering on time or not burning their house down with your product. This begins to establish Trust, which is even more valuable than confidence and truly begins your brand’s growth.
Here your positive reviews, social page likes, email subscriptions or other metrics can help you measure brand success on this step of your brand ladder. By sharing their delight online with positive sentiment, people will begin to move up your brand ladder without any prompting or paid campaigns (just hard work!)
You can delight your customers with craft packaging, personalized messages, a great on-boarding process, prompt or valuable software updates: whatever the case is for your brand, taking that extra step to create delight is key.
The next step up the ladder is Engagement, which is where establishing a Fluid Identity for your brand or using a great Social Design System can deliver incredible value by creating a sense of belonging. Investment in this phase of growing your brand can deliver value for years to come, and help keep your brand profitable during times of uncertainty through continued social engagement outside of paid advertising.
With a strong brand image that speaks authentically, there’s no limit to the lasting value you can build.
Through this engagement, your brand will become more than a product, an app or a podcast, it becomes part of a person’s day-to-day life. They feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves by connecting with you, your product and it’s other users. Creating compelling content that people want to share, or a product that creates a community or helps them express themselves will continue their journey upwards on your brand ladder. Here, you can begin to measure brand success with positive social chatter, likes, videos views and other social metrics.
“Customers don’t want to be TOLD, they want to TELL. They long to be the heroes of their own journeys.” – Marty Neumeier
Beware the top of the ladder doesn’t end here with positive tweets recommending your brand or five star reviews on the app store.
Often a customer can find the perfect product, feel “Emotionally Attached” enough to recommend it via social media, but no longer engage with the brand after this stage. It is vital to continue your marketing strategy post sale to remain connected with your users through sharing how others are using the product or service on pinterest or instagram, by building forums, facebook groups or other online communities for users, or hosting a User Generated Content challenge on TikTok.
As your audience grows, so will your brand’s public image, so be careful to keep delivering engagement and control how you are perceived.
You’ve done it! People have reached the top level of your brand ladder and found Empowerment, where they genuinely feel “I would not know what to do without the help of this product- this company- in my life.”
At this stage you’re no longer providing the rush of a positive purchase, and you’ve earned more than some SEO traffic or a recommendation…you’ve built a lasting, 1:1 connection with your brand that supports them and improves their quality of life.
In this stage you can measure brand success through a number of ways: identify your evangelists, advocates and power-users via social media, email or other communications channels. Are you getting “earned” value in the press as a solution provider or trend-setting creator? Does your brand inspire a fan-following or compel user generated content like how-to’s or reviews? Do you connect with other brands or media to create events or produce content that helps tell your story? If any of these are part of your strategy, you’re in a great place to measure branding success, empower your audience people and continue delivering value for the future.
“Customer identity, not company identity, is the secret to building a flipped brand. It’s not enough to find out who your customers are. You need to help them become the people they want to be.”- Neumeier
Measure Branding Success
So yes, we lied.
You can measure success, but there’s no one-size fits all approach, funnel or graph that will tell you what you need to know.
Along the ladder you can use common KPIs like social shares, video views or subscribers to track upward trends, watch your inbound SEO or direct web traffic, keep an eye on repeat visits that convert to sales, graph your organic email subscribers…the metrics are limitless, so don’t get too caught up on any one number.
To truly understand how to grow your brand, you’ll need to start with the customer and work with your marketing, support and sales teams to learn how your business can empower them to grow through your products. Creating a unique ‘ladder’ for your customer will take time, and patience, but once you do your brand, and business, can truly grow.