Using Big Data for the Betterment of Your Brand

Published on March 4, 2016

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Maximizing consumer insights is central to keeping customers engaged and the bottom line of businesses performing. We are true believers in utilizing data to inform and improve media plans and to develop highly creative, motivating advertising messages. But, there is still no substitute for experience, good judgment and stewardship of your brand. The risk of only relying on ‘big data’ to grow sales and acquire new customers is tempting. Though it is a mistake that can quickly become a paralyzing force, disabling gut instinct, good ideas and even good brands.

Taking a balanced approach may not always be popular, especially when conversions are decreasing and revenue is stagnating. Yet employing data to support promotions and the brand at the same time is possible. Balancing the two takes patience, intellect and perspective. The alternative, a path guided only by promotions is short-lived and has the potential to lead to brand deterioration. Experience has caused us to arrive at certain conclusions listed herein to invite conversation:

Love your brand fans. Commit to keeping a pulse on your customer. It doesn’t always have to involve a huge investment in official and lengthy research initiatives. It sometimes just takes time. Get into the shopping aisle and observe how people interact with your brand and category. Or sit among your audience and listen to their gripes and gains, listen to their conversations online and understand what excites them. Capture discussions and identify the emotions your brand creates. Doing so will help connect the dots between the data and provide more meaning to the spreadsheets and dashboards that keep you up at night.

Combine and curate the data to create intersections. Make a concerted effort to compare and combine lines of data, and to overlay the results, for example overlay results of advertising that is brand-focused versus promotion-focused deployed on strategically placed programmatic TV with customer feedback surveys and online behavior. But, don’t take on the role of a scientist whose job it is to be objective. Instead, view the compiled information through your lens of personal experiences and knowledge of your brand. Then, put it to work subjectively.

Finally, sometimes the insight might not come from the obvious. Pay attention to anomalies in the data. These often lead to ‘aha’ moments that catapult you into uncovering new opportunities. In short, get the numbers right and then do right by numbers, always with an eye on your brand. If you are feeling overwhelmed by big data and need help leveraging it, we’re a great sounding board.

Mirja Riester is the Chief Strategic Officer at RIESTER. She earned a Masters Degree equivalent to an MBA at the University of Hamburg, then worked on such international brands as Panasonic, Volkswagen and Guinness at DDB Needham in Germany. She guides the stewardship of RIESTER’s clients. Contact Mirja directly at


Horst, P, & Duboff, R. (2015). Don’t let big data bury your brand. Harvard Business Review 93 (11), 78-86

Essen, B., (2015) Embrace the outliers: abandoning certainty will unlock the creative qualities of big data, The Admap Gold Winner Essay