How to Incorporate Measurement into a Brand Purpose Program

By Morgan Strawn

As more and more organizations seek to pursue brand purpose, they often find themselves looking for a way to gauge the success of these efforts with a reliable program of measurement. An old adage tells us that "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

The best approach to such a program can seem elusive, though. Fortunately, guests on the ANA Center for Brand Purpose's Beyond Profit podcast periodically offer advice on this topic, and five tips from the show follow below.

Measure yourself against third-party rating systems and measure purpose's impact on business results: "In terms of standards for measuring purpose, I think there's actually two pieces. First, we need industry standards for measuring impact and we're beginning to see more and more of these emerge, not only at the corporate level with ESG, but also at the consumer level, with things such as carbon-neutral ratings on consumer packaging. That's the first piece for measuring that impact. And the second piece is really where we come in and where we measure and that's measuring the success from a brand or marketing perspective. And there are well-established standards for this including brand lift and purchase intent. And those are the ways that we measure success."
Melissa Anderson, co-founder of and president at Public Good

Adopt industry-specific standards: "[The metrics that an organization uses to measure purpose] will depend largely, I think, on the type of sector in which the company exists. The materiality or priority of an ESG issue will vary systematically by sector. So, the ESG issues of an Exxon are systematically different to the ESG issues of a Facebook."
Brian Tomlinson, director of research for the CEO Investor Forum at Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose

Focus your measurement efforts: "Just pick one thing. You don't have to reinvent the world. You've already got plenty of metrics — just pick one thing and it doesn't even need to be a perfect metric."
Lisa McLeod, author of Selling with Noble Purpose

Be transparent: "Everybody knows they want a purpose. The question is, what are you going to measure differently as a result of having that purpose? What are your KPIs? And then where are you publishing those? How easy is it to for me to know whether you're hitting those targets or not?"
Ty Montague, co-founder of and chairman and chief purpose officer at Co:Collective and host of Calling Bullshit

Tie compensation to performance on brand purpose: "I think the most important factor in getting companies to act with integrity is to broaden out the metrics, the things that they measure, the things that they report to the street, and start to compensate executives based on things other than just what the short-term stock price looks like."
Rob Chestnut, former chief ethics officer at Airbnb and author of Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Morgan Strawn is a senior manager of editorial and content development at ANA.