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Many use the terms brand equity and brand health interchangeably; they shouldn’t.

Brand equity refers to the size of a brand.  A brand with high brand equity has lots of customers, big market share, and generates lots of profit.  However, there is no guarantee that the big brand will stay big or that it won’t gobble up increasing advertising and promotion to hold its share. The futures of the brand is what brand health is about. Take two brands—Facebook and Yahoo.  Both have lots of brand equity today but clearly the stock price trajectory of the two brands is different.  Yahoo…big brand, but healthy? Not so much….

So, let’s think about brand health.  Using a “Synectics-style excursion” metaphor approach, we can compare the concept of brand health to how you can tell if your dog is healthy.

Signs your dog is healthy

  • Has a normal appetite
  • Comes when you call it
  • Looks like the breed it is
  • Heals fast
  • Puppies need to grow into their paws to normal size
  • Has a bright, shiny coat
  • Doesn’t have accidents in the house
  • Cold, wet nose

So, following the metaphor, here are the signs that your brand is healthy

Dog is healthy if: Brand is healthy if
Has a normal appetite Brands “eat” Advertising and promotion support.  If the brand needs to increase marketing support, especially promotion support, to maintain market share it’s not a healthy sign
Comes when you call it Does your brand come when consumers call?  Are they “calling it” (via social media conversations).  Is the marketing team listening and responding?
Looks likes the breed it is Does your brand have the meaning to consumers it intends to have? Is it positioned as intended?
Heals fast Good brands can receive bad news that, in an era of social media, can turn into massive body blows in an instant.  One of the most powerful signs of brand equity is that your customers will forgive you; is your brand bouncing back?
Puppies need to grow into their paws to normal size Is your brand growing the way it should?  Are you aware of the geometry of a brand, the signs across multiple information streams that it has grown to full size?  For example, high penetration or trial that is not supported by commensurate customer retention means the brand will stop growing short of its full size.  This was the point that Nielsen made about Twitter a year or so ago.
Has a bright shiny coat Dogs’ coats shine, making them attractive from a distance.  In the era of shopper marketing, nothing could be more important than having your brand jump off the shelf and tells shoppers in an instant what it is about.
Doesn’t have accidents Well, no brand team wants to be fighting fires and cleaning up after the brand.  Brands are about trust and therefore consistency.  You should be able to have exactly the brand experience you expect, or better.  If your brand has inconsistent quality or train wrecks it will keep the brand team on defense.
Cold wet nose Touching your dog’s nose regularly is a way of tracking if it is healthy or if you have to look further.  In this digital age, track your brand in all layers of consumer expression: surveys, social media, search, activity in owned media, etc.


So, we’re not talking about the size of the dog, we’re talking about if it’s healthy.  Brand health is critical to understand and measure because it is predictive of the future.  A big brand that is unhealthy won’t stay that big for long. The next step is to add a column to the chart above that reflects the measure for each row. For example, “normal appetite” can be measured by monitoring the ratio of advertising and promotion to sales. “Comes when you call it” can be measured by the degree of trademark search and social media activity. “Looks like the breed it is” can be measured by a combination of attribute ratings from a survey and social media conversation. Marketers need to identify and monitor all signs that a brand is healthy and growing which increasingly means mining digital and social signals.

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One Response to “Does your brand have a cold wet nose? (updated)”

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