At The Creative Lab, we believe that brand development work is an essential lever in the on-going health of brands, regardless of the prevailing economic conditions. All the data proves this to be the case. The challenge is to enable this work to contribute to the day-to-day machinery of brand performance, in a way that can be measured at the ‘speed of business’… especially when times get tough.



The Gap Analysis does exactly this, and there’s no better buzz than seeing it help brands thrive.



Key takeouts


  • Convincing marketers to invest in brand building work during an economic downtown is extremely tough, even though the historical data proves its benefit.
  • Focus, budget and resource are very often diverted to shorter term, more easily measurable tactical activation… for completely understandable reasons.
  • We think this is missing a huge opportunity for brands, in terms of on-going equity build AND short term sales uplift – they’re profoundly interconnected.
  • The truth is, measuring brand development work is often expensive and time-consuming, so it’s rarely given the chance to contribute to more immediate challenges.
  • Our Gap Analysis enables brands to confidently undertake brand building work at the ‘speed of business’ via a simple, dynamic and scalable measurement tool.




Written by: Paul Cope MD at The Creative Lab

Reading time: 5 minutes


Bringing dynamic effectiveness measurement to brand building.


As we seemingly canter towards a perfect storm of high prices, low demand and ever-greater scrutiny on marketing budgets, the same old conversations about the on-going importance of nurturing brands abound. Distinctiveness v differentiation, short term v long term, price v value, stick v twist… feels grimly familiar, doesn’t it?


But don’t we already know the answers to these questions? History teaches us that brands are like houseplants: to keep them healthy they need constant monitoring, regular feeding, and an awareness of their environment – even (especially!) when the climate is less than ideal. I could happily sweat this analogy further, but you get the picture.



At The Creative Lab we call it Brand Vitalisation, and it helps brands stay essential in an ‘always on’ world and their communications effectiveness optimised. 


You see it’s not news that consumer behaviour changes during an economic downturn. Marketing theory hasn’t evolved so much in the past six months that all of a sudden we know that when consumers are uncertain about spending, they’re more likely to choose brands that have won their trust. These are truisms.


Even my mum knows – to paraphrase another analogy –there's not much point spending all your time moving deckchairs around if your ship is sinking, regardless of how choppy the sea might be. And yet still brand development budgets get cut. A catastrophic missed opportunity, no?



Well yes, but all this, in truth, is only half the story. 

Marketers aren't dumb. In fact, many of them are very smart indeed and most know that riding out a downturn is ultimately the only game in town. And with less wriggle room to achieve this unenviable task, being able to rapidly account for the impact of each lever pulled and button pressed is paramount. Hence the inevitable pivot towards more tactical activation that is highly measurable, adaptable and can be switched on and off easily. Is it any wonder that more traditional ‘brand building’ tasks are taken off the table?


It’s not even measurement per se that’s the issue. There are loads of metrics and methodologies to quantify brand effectiveness – the IPA do great work in this area. Given time and budget, there are plenty of helpful ways to monitor brand buzz, consumer loyalty, employee satisfaction and so on. No, this is about recognising that for brand building to be spoken about with the same sense of urgency and impact as tactical levers, its measurement approach needs to stack up during times of economic uncertainty.



So, how do you get started? 


Before any of this can happen, two key strands of a organisation’s marketing ethos must first be in place: ‘Brand Forward Thinking’ and ‘Culture of Effectiveness’. 


Without a deep belief in the power of brands and recognising the importance of continuously monitoring KPIs and ROI, this approach is a bit of a non-starter. Companies who don’t have these two pillars in place tend to really struggle in downturns anyway, but that discussion is for another day.


The next job – and here’s where it gets really interesting – is to find an appropriate, dynamic measurement methodology that the business can get behind. To hit the brief, it should meet three important criteria. It must be…


1) Simple

As in a 'Janet & John’-level of straightforward, easy to complete with meaningful outputs that are quick to interpret accurately, and repeatable. If it can’t be done again and again with minimum fuss and maximum impact, it’s not going to stick.


2) Relevant

By which I mean able to keep track of data points attributable to the brand building you’re doing as well as demonstrating how it enhances your more tactical work. Importantly, it should be easily presentable over a couple of slides in both your monthly board meeting and weekly team catch-up, so everyone sees its value. 


3) Scalable

Absolutely vital to its uptake will be how elegantly it can align with – and input into – your more long-term brand tracking methodologies. I’ve framed this as an opportunity borne out of tough times, but this should really be a permanent plug-in to your brand’s effectiveness efforts.



The solution? Introducing the GAP ANALYSIS: The Creative Lab’s dynamic brand performance measurement tool.


Our online Gap Analysis tool identifies the opportunities and barriers that exist in your brand to help unlock its greatest value. Here’s how it works…



  • The tool consists of a simple 20-question survey (presented as statements) covering three key performance areas: Brand Foundations, Communications Outputs and Operational Processes.
  • Each question is scored by the brand team based on their agreed metrics and supporting data (sales, awareness, sentiment, media performance etc.)
  • Each score is attributed a weighting by the tool (informed by historical industry data) according to its likely impact on brand growth potential – some will lag, some will be more immediate.
  • The immediate output includes a personalised infographic that provides a snapshot of your brand’s untapped potential at any point in time, plus a series of recommendations for how to address specific areas of weakness.
  • By completing the Gap Analysis at regular intervals in a set period (e.g. every quarter for 12-18 months), the brand team are able to monitor how their brand building work is performing over time and get a clear picture of ROI.
  • Overlaid with the results of the brand’s tactical, sales driving activation, a full picture emerges of the interaction between short and long term tools and metrics as well as how they can be optimised.