Over the years I've worked on numerous brand realignment, and brand re-positioning strategies, these include companies of varying sizes, in different sectors, markets, and territories, many of them a mixture of luxury (high end) or volume (price driven) companies - and quite a few technology businesses.

One of the key tools we deployed to establish where the brand 'was/is now', and where we would like it to be was a basic research technique called 'brand recall'. 

To say it was time consuming and expensive is an understatement.

One of the more interesting ones I did was for a US based ladies 'hosiery and Shape wear company' (the guys who invented Nylon Stockings), I won't go into why we did a re-brand but when we went to do a brand recall exercise our intention was to gain insight into the market, and competitive landscape. 

Just for fun I threw in the potential name for the re-brand which hadn't even been launched, didn't have any product, and certainly hadn't any marketing activity with it.

To mine, and the clients surprise  it got a 9% brand recall, with a product association that was spookily close to where we were going. 

For the ladies reading this blog the biggest competitor to my client was 'Spanx' - and the new brand name for the client was going to be called 'Sculptz' - see what we did there?

When I run my 'brand alignment' workshops I ask people to download a 'word cloud' App prior to arrival - I do this to evidence that how they talk about the brand is a part of how potential customers can relate to them, example below.

If you were sat in a bar, or coffee shop after you had a meeting with a potential new client (go with me) and they entered said bar/coffee shop with members of their team, and started to talk about you and your company, what would you be wanting them to say?

In summary that's what personal and company branding is all about, so if you're not listening, and engaging how do you know if your 'on brand' or not?

Today, word clouds simply form part of a number of freely available 'listening' tools, and are a staple part of some of the more professional 'paid for' solutions. 

These professional tools can go a lot deeper than just words, they can see 'sentiment' and 'intent'. They can identify which platforms your brand is most active on, and with whom, they can also be used to help you 'listen' to competitors, in the same way your competitor can listen to you.

The tools available today allow you to have a dynamic and detailed view of how you and your company are being perceived on Social Media. And as I have often evidenced in numerous blog post it seems many brands simply don't invest in the time and effort to make use of the information these tools are throwing out - as the saying goes 'a fool with a tool, is still a fool'.

Most of these tools are being used by an outsourced agency, who definitely don't want to be an extension of your 'customer service' department, they just want to charge you the ongoing retainer and do as little as possible to maximise their margin, not yours. 

If you invest in a Social Media presence, at least ensure you've put the same investment into being 'social' - and that includes not just listening, but engaging, adding value, and working to build out strong communities of people who can help leverage your brand and proposition - its a two way process!