A brand image is how a consumer visualizes a product. If I say "Nike" or "Jordan's", immediately, in our minds, a certain image is created. The good people at Nike would hope that the image that you get, especially, if you are between the ages of 16-40, would be "cool".
Branding has always been a critical factor in marketing, but it is even more so in our social media era because there is just so much more content. If you are to prosper, you're product must be the first choice in a Google search. In times past, brand image was created subjectively. A marketer would dream up a theme for a brand image and just hope this image would resonate with consumers. As an aside, I think one of the greatest brand image campaigns of all time was UPS — imagine creating a brand image around the color brown — but "Brown" is clearly defined in our minds when we hear the term, UPS .
Brand image can now be created objectively. In our social media world, a marketer can understand what resonates with their target market. When the image is created, they can quickly measure in real time whether or not this image resonates with their target market. Millions is spend on the creation of a brand image. It is one of the most important decisions that a marketer makes in the creation of a brand. If the image does not resonate with consumers, the brand will fail. Now, in our era, a marketer can quickly, in real time, change the image to a more acceptable theme.
Analytics has changed the face of modern marketing. In times past, branding was subjective —- you just hoped your idea was the correct one. In modern marketing, social media has created the means that allows analytics to be developed that allows a marketer to see if their campaign is the correct. Today, marketers brand by fact and not by hope.
Nike is a prime example of how this works. In the late '80s and early' 90s, Nike's image was based on "cool". They teamed with Michael Jordan to create a truly iconic brand image. The market place has changed. Many shoe companies have developed an "image" of cool. Nike knew that it had to evolve.
Nike evolved its image from "cool" to "friend". In the social media era, a brand must create a friendship with its customer. Nike was able to create a brand image based on a personal relationship with its customers. It was able to do this through measuring analytics and creating a brand image around "fact" and not "hope" (as in "Gee, I hope this works").
Nike + cobranded with Apple to create a community of runners. Sensors were put into Nike sneakers that measure how fast and how far its customers run. The analytics of this data is uploaded to the runner's iPod and then to the Nike Web site.
Nike then analyzes the data to create its brand image within the new Nike running community. Nike's analytics has told Nike that Sunday is the most popular day for running. Nike has learned that the greater proportion of the community works out after 5 PM This allows Nike to target its advertising to communicate with its community during the work day. Early morning drive radio is a favorite of Nike.
Nike has also learned that its community sets new running goals for itself as part of a New Year's resolution. This is a critical metric, because now Nike is able to invest in a major advertising campaigns during the NFL playoff run. The key word is investment. Because of analytics, Nike knows that its target is primed for this campaign at this particular time of the year. Analytics allow Nike to maximize its advertising dollars.