Brands Must Look Beyond the Logo to See the Big Picture

Opinion: For brands willing to look beyond the logo, new tools are emerging

Brands focused on looking for their logos on social media networks to get a handle on marketing return on investment may be missing the bigger picture about who is sharing their visual content online.

Marketers know to start any program with clarity of focus about what they’re trying to measure. Measuring how many times a brand logo is seen in images has some value, for example, if you sponsored an event. You may want to see how many times your logo appeared in content that was created by participants and media organizations and shared on Instagram.

However, looking at logos only is very limited and does not give you the full picture of the impact a brand has on consumers or how much they are engaging with it on social networks.

What about content that doesn’t show a clear logo? What about companies with unbranded or non-logoed products? We’ve seen that a huge percentage of the content shared and posted on Pinterest is logo-free. It’s important to go beyond the logo to get the whole story of an image—how brand content is shared over time, who has shared that content and who has influence in getting it shared.

A platform that is solely focused on logo recognition isn’t going to be able to help marketers understand how people discover what they want to buy though viewing, sharing and engaging with your visual content across social media and around the web.

A lot of attention has been paid to the concept of computer vision, where the system can, for example, identify the Eiffel Tower. Using such technology for logo recognition requires training the system with perhaps thousands of iterations and contexts in which that logo would appear. That type of training takes a lot of labor, extensive processing and is quite slow going. This would leave a marketing department little time to find brand content without logos.

One of the best ways brands can see the big picture is by identifying images of their products with a reverse-image search: taking in brand-generated images and finding all of the copies of those images across the web, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and so on.

By reducing every copy of every image you see down to its “DNA,” a technology platform finds the kind of enormous efficiencies that are required by the scale of the vastly growing visual web. This gives the capability to sort via DNA without trying to match billions of images with billions of others. It allows you to match an image against hundreds of billions in a database and come back with a result about what the image is, where this image is, how it got there and where it came from.

Then the story of the image becomes about the long-term benefit that content has for a brand. With questions being raised about which influencers provide value and what social networks are worth investment, marketers are looking for greater detail to guide the investments they make in their content and social media programs. That is the kind of data that goes well beyond the logo and requires a deep dive into a brand’s visual content strategy and how they are seeding and distributing that content across social networks.

After you understand how consumers discover, share and engage with content, you need to know the value of your earned media program and how it performs in the context of the overall marketing mix. As management guru Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

For brands willing to look beyond the logo, new tools are emerging to help them see the big picture of how earned media can now be measured and managed.

Brian Killen is founder and CEO of visual content performance platform ShareIQ.