Wanted: A Way to Objectively Measure Your Brand's Value

Start by Assessing the Risks to Your Corporate Reputation

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What if you could take out an insurance policy on your brand?

For that to happen, there'd have to be some objective criteria for valuing a loss, not the qualitative, happy measures we rely upon to claim equity. There'd have to be clear lines drawn between what brands are and what they aren't. It would mean swapping the intangibles we can describe only by metaphor for input we can specify and manage.

And it would require companies to put real money against those criteria.

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jonathan Salem Baskin runs Baskin Associates, a global brand consultancy, and blogs at Dim Bulb.
I have seen a hint of what's possible from execs at Steel City Re, who are finding innovative ways to value and protect not brand, per se, but corporate reputation.

Their methodology is based on ISO 9000 quality assurance, only expanded so that it quantifies "reputation" as the sum of non-balance-sheet assets that can be managed and changed -- that is, the business processes that drive quality, affirm sustainability, create security, ensure safety and promote integrity.

Providing such benchmarks for assessing the risks to reputation can be the foundation for corporate strategy, outbound program development, risk management and even risk transfer. The nuance lost in such a statistical-controls approach is replaced with the clarity of a forward-looking management tool, instead of reputation being primarily handled as a backward-looking crisis by corporate-communications departments.

Interestingly, Steel City Re has a few years of tracking data to support its premise: Managed reputations do better in stock price (value and consistency), profitability and other meaningful financial measures.

Now imagine it was talking about brand value.

I bet there could be a series of best-practice behaviors that provided the benchmarks for brands, whether internal (employee tenure, productivity or error rates in any department, customer-satisfaction ratings) or external (price sustainability, transaction frequency/volume, dependability of distribution). Such metrics could be derived from the many relationships upon which brand communications, engagement, and all of the qualitative measures of awareness and intent rely.

It's a novel idea, and not far from the one that the guys at Steel City Re are advocating. Thinking of brand as the outcome of business performance rather than what's applied to business performance would open up both resources and ideas (and not just nice words and images) that should be applied to the dire challenge of selling stuff.

It would be far better to walk into the next cut-your-2009-budget meeting with objective measures of sales, profits and enterprise value in your hands instead of measures of thoughts, whether via fMRI or a divining rod.

That would be like taking out an insurance policy on your job, wouldn't it?3

Questions to ask about risk

Predictability: What payoffs of your spend are more reliable than others?

Weighting: Is your strategy balanced among potential payoffs, like a portfolio?

Variables: Do you calculate potential impacts from externalities?
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