Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What is a Brand Painting?

One of the key lessons that any analyst needs to learn is the ability to turn numbers into insight which can be “read” by almost any client. While analysts deal in numbers all day long, many of the audience for their research see numbers as an impediment to their understanding of a subject. Therefore every analyst needs a good set of charts, visualisations and other associated images to help them tell the story of their analysis to a wider audience.

For Marketing Mix Analysis (an analytical technique which seeks to estimate the incremental impact of each core marketing activity on total sales performance), one such key chart is the “Brand Painting”. A Brand Painting is a visual decomposition of the sales performance over time showing how much each driver is contributing at each point in time.

Here’s an example of a brand painting taken directly from our modelQED™ application:

In this picture, we can see a “base” level of activity which contains a range of inputs including seasonality, longer term market trends, special events and in the case of output from modelQED™, the impact of competitor marketing*.

We can then see the incremental impacts of TV, Press, Radio and Outdoor advertising as well as some short term promotions plus the detrimental impact of price rises on total sales.

What makes this a useful graphic? Well I think the following:

  • The Brand Painting gives you a great view of sales performance across time – something often ignored
  • Brand Paintings are a great way of assessing the overall impacts of drivers – whilst the ROI on an online campaign may look fantastic, has it actually moved the needle? Being able to see the relative sales increase from each channel is important
  • Trends can become more obvious – the impact of all those small price rises can soon add up to a lot of units for an elastic brand but an elasticity value of -3.2 often fails to convey the magnitude of this change
  • They can give a great insight into the medium term impact of marketing – the period over which the short term impact decays

Any pitfalls?

  • Brand Paintings don’t show the ROI of investments – a large impact may or may not have a large investment behind it
  • You can’t easily get any sense of whether there are diminishing returns present in the drivers
  • You can only plot Brand Paintings if a model uses an additive mathematical structure – or at least if only makes sense to in these circumstances

So the upshot is this: I love Brand Paintings and almost every client I’ve ever worked for instinctively found them valuable when I presented my analytical results. If you don’t have the right applications then they can take a little bit of effort to construct in Excel or SAS but ultimately they’re worth it.

*note that modelQED™ does estimate the impact of competitor marketing but it is not charted on Brand Paintings by default.

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