Marketing types always look forward to the plethora of surveys that come out during the course of every year that rank one brand higher than another on some random criterion or another. It makes for great water cooler conversation as people compare notes to see whether the findings reflect what they also feel.
And so it is again with this week’s YouGov survey which listed London Underground and Royal Mail as the most improved brands in positive noise generated (whatever that actually means). Apparently, London Underground’s role in making the Olympics a success is behind its rise whilst Royal Mail’s financial revival has boosted its rankings. La Senza, Santander and Sky are the other big improvers.
It’s a bit of fun that fills some column inches and keeps tweeters occupied for a few more minutes, but are the findings of this or any other survey of genuine significance?
We don’t want to be too dismissive but measuring “positive buzz” doesn’t seem to us to be the best way of assessing brand performance. Marketers may be in the brand perception business but brand perception is only ever going to be as good as brand reality. No matter how much positive buzz you want to apply to a brand to assess performance, it will always come undone if the messages you’re putting out about a brand do not align with the reality of the consumer’s real world experience of the brand.
Businesses need to acknowledge that the role of the marketer is to convey the reality of the company and its proposition, not to act as a smokescreen for them. If your marketing says one thing when your customers experience the complete opposite, it will do more damage to the brand and its relationship with customers than saying nothing it all. Marketing is about clear communication, about getting your services right before promoting them to your audiences and using social platforms to both welcome the plaudits and addressing concerns. Brands are often judged more on how they respond to complaints and concerns than on the original cause for the concern.
So recognise that your marketing should be telling the truth about your business, albeit in a persuasive and creative way that is closely aligned to your commercial objectives. But equally recognise it’s not the role of marketing to pull the wool over your customers’ eyes. Marketers can be magicians, but if you want an illusionist, call Dynamo.