I am currently working on a project with a client to realign and refresh their brand to reflect their new direction.
One of the first steps I undertook was to engage a research company to undertake an audit or assessment of the brand’s perception in the market, so we knew the baseline we were starting from. This was an interesting exercise of both qualitative and quantitative research and although we had a good feel for where the brand sat in the market, it really did hone in on the specifics of which specific target audience thought what and allowed us to get some firm data to be able to communicate easily with the Executive number crunchers.
Our research included not only the key “customers,” but also key stakeholders and influencers, including staff. Essentially all the people in the company's "Circle of Influence" or COI. Tapping into the views of the COI can be very useful...Jennifer Jones has posted an interesting blog on this topic on MarketingProfs - visit here to read more and see her diagram of a COI http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/08/determining_a_brands_market_pe.html
Gaining this defined and drilled down perspective about a brand will ultimately assist you in developing a target strategic marketing communications plan for the brand. I will keep you posted on my progress, until then I'd love to hear about what anyone else has done to measure their brand, shift an existing brand or launch a totally new one.
All the best
Heidi Alexandra Pollard