Use Search Data To Maximize The True Potential Of Your Brand Equity -
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Use Search Data To Maximize The True Potential Of Your Brand Equity

Use Search Data To Maximize The True Potential Of Your Brand Equity

Tap Into Search Engine Data To Understand What Consumers Really Think Of Your Brand

Brands work very hard to get their identities established in the minds of consumers. The question is, do the identities match what consumers think about the brands? One useful way to gauge this is to look at the search data.

When consumers are conducting searches, they frequently use a combination of keyword terms. Those co-searches provide insight into what mental connections are being made among objectives, products, topics and so forth. When this data is reviewed in the aggregate, is provides a reflection of when and how consumers think about a specific brand. This information can be used by marketers in several different ways- for example, to inform future positioning, test how strong brand associations are, highlight natural spokespersons and uncover new partnership opportunities.

Brand marketers all hold strong beliefs in what their brands stand for. Marketers after all spend a great deal of effort, money and time to come up with a key value proposition that will hopefully lead to success in the marketplace. Creative strategies, products and campaigns are all designed to provide support for these carefully crafted brand identities. However, does what consumers think about a brand match corporate objectives, and are their brand associations in line with the intended positioning?

One effective way to find out is to make use of search data. It is an invaluable tool to use for examining a brand in several different ways, including how well the brand stands for what it is intended to. The rich set of data, which is comprised of millions of searches done by consumers about specific brands along with their competitors, can be tapped into to get a good sense of what associations and perceptions consumers have about a particular brand.

In our series of articles we have already explored using search data as a tool for brand planning and also demonstrated how search data is a reflection of the collective movements and moments in today’s society. In addition, we have discussed how search data can be used by marketers to obtain new insights into competitive landscapes and categories. Now we will take a more in-depth look into how search can be used to investigate positioning and associations.

Connections Are Uncovered With Co-Searches

We have a tendency to think that a “search” is a single instance that occurs on its own. However, in reality, individuals frequently use multiple queries when they are doing searches. What that means is that every search session is comprised of a combination of terms (“co-searches”). They can uncover connections between objectives, topics and brands in a very natural way.

For example, I was planning a party recently. I started by searching for decorations, after that I searched for party favors and gifts, then did some research on fun party recipes before finally search for places to purchase the items I was interested in. You can string the searches together, to show which “needs” queries match with specific “actions” queries. When millions of these types of strings are connected, search data can provide a reflection of how consumers think about your brand and in what contexts.

Search Reveals Brand Associations

In addition to helping brands understand their associations, co-searched terms can also pinpoint people, services and products that are natural candidates for potential partnerships that can help to really drive home the brand associations that are desired. Other brands that might share the search territory of your brand might also be uncovered.

Let’s use some celebrity brands to demonstrate this concept. Looking at the search data, celebrities have a tendency to fall naturally into groups that have shared associations that are based simply on search behaviors. In 2013, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus not only dominated search in terms of volume, but due to their public reputations they were also linked with other provocative celebrities making the headlines, including Christina Aguilera and Lindsay Lohan.

Let’s take a closer look at the different attributes that are associated with these celebrity brands. The highest co-searched term out of all of the attributes that we were interested in was interestingly enough “hair,” even more than “music.” Clearly, the hairstyles of these celebrities are turning heads and setting trends.

So whose hair captivated us the most? The celebrity who was most strongly associated with “hair” was Beyoncé, with actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Aniston both making the top five. Since celebrities update their looks constantly, if the time frame is changed the lined up is likely to change also. In a similar way, the association of a brand with a specific attribute may change over time and also relative to its competitors, so the pulse needs to be taken by markets on an ongoing basis.

Try using analyses like these with your brand. Define whatever competitive set and attributes you would like to examine. It’s great if the the associations that are uncovered are desired. Just continue to reinforce them through your product, media and creative decisions. If improvements need to be made- for example you would like your product to be associated with “healthy snacks” more- consider using search advertising in addition to your regular branding efforts. Using category keywords such as “healthy snacks” for your advertising can help to highlight your brand and also strength your positioning with an audience that has shown interest in the category already.

Brand Affiliations Are “Endorsed” By Search

Celebrities, like corporations, frequently have key affiliations with certain entities (for example, initiatives, events, brands). When search data is reviewed, planned partnerships can be evaluated to see if they are working out or not and tangential associations that are occurring naturally can also be checked out. Some celebrities are able to develop strong associations with various brands. For example, according to search share, there are two significant affiliations that Beyoncé has, due to her Pepsi and L’Oréal ad campaigns. Kim Kardashian makes a co-searching appearance with just about every brand appearing in the matrix. However, as can be expected, the strongest affiliation that she has is with Sears based on her Kardashian Kollection with the retailer.

The recent ad form Volvo Trucks that features Jean-Claude Van Damme is a very good example of how search is often a reflection of the impact that marketing campaigns can have. In the ad, the action star is shown doing splits on tractor trailer trucks that are moving. On YouTube, it has received over 65 million hits. Although compared to many other celebrities the media presence that Van Damme has is more limited, he has an especially strong association with Volvo. Celebrity and brand were instantly aligned in consumers minds, which boosted the search interest for both of them.

Your brand might have partnerships that help to connect it with an emerging trend, event or another brand. Search data lets you assess very quickly whether or not consumers are making the intended linkages that you want. If the associations are not as strong as you would like, you can put more attention on your content strategy and re-evaluate your mediums of distributions. Or search data can be used for identifying new relationships that may help with making decisions about what your next partnership, media and sponsorship opportunities might be.

Using Search To Identify Brand Identity

Being able to manage and shape brand identity depends on how well you understand consumers and their thinking. Search data gives you the chance to draw on data from billions of queries that reveals exactly that. To get started, just type your brand name into Google Trends to see what shows up. Specifically look at the “related searches,” that includes certain queries and topics. Other tools like Trends for Marketers allow you to dig more deeply into a set of attributes and brands that you are interested in, and allow you to more deeply examine co-search behavior. So if you haven’t done so already, explore the power of the Google sales tools. Analyzing co-searches will allow brands to identify various strengths and weaknesses in their brand associations, locate new partnership opportunities and track brand identities that you have been working so hard to develop.