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Yes, managing your brand is all about affecting the brain of your customer and managing their expectations and perceptions to reach a desired outcome: Brain Surgery! Many people, today, however, would argue that successful brand management also relies on some very complex math: Rocket Science. “Big Data” is the current buzz word for the massive amounts of analyzable customer data available that companies are parsing and dissecting to gain better insights into how customers think and what they are buying.

There’s micro-segmenting, hyper-local targeting, cross-referencing, perceptual mapping, deep analytics, data parsing and it seems every other technique imaginable being used to get a better understanding of customers and what makes them tick. And the results manifest themselves in ways that are familiar to almost anyone today.

If you have an iTunes account from Apple, chances are you’ve tried the “Genius” recommendations at least once or twice to discover new music. Put rather simply, iTunes looks at what music you listen to and analyses that against what others with the same music are listening to and develops recommendations based on this information.

In a similar fashion, Amazon creates recommendations and “offers” based on previous purchase history matched against others with similar purchase history and what products they bought or searched for. It’s all very exciting and provides benefits to both the merchant and the customer.

Taken to the massive scale of “Big Data” analytics, this kind of analysis is providing more information about customers, trends and buying habits than ever before. And because there is so much data available, it has led to a level of predictive modeling that can help retailers buy nearly the exact amount of inventory for a given product for a particular time span in a specific location. It’s pretty amazing.

And all of this analysis helps brands improve their business results and inventory management.

I would argue, however, that “Big Data” and analytics alone, do not affect brand perceptions in and of themselves. As a customer I am happy when I am able to easily find a specific product I am looking for, but the best logistics, pricing and availability on the world will not help a brand if I call customer service and am put on hold for hours, the product quality is poor or the overall ownership experience is bad. The fact I bought a product and the company/brand knew I was going to buy it is great. The result of every other experience I have with it will determine whether I buy it again.

Again, brand is about perception affecting a desired outcome. If the desired outcome is for me to buy a product multiple times, then you must make sure that my perceptions and expectations are met every time. As a brand you have the ability to affect the way I think, but you need to understand the nature of how my perceptions are formed and manage all aspects of that.

Is your company relying on Big Data alone to drive your brand strategy or is it one part of a larger brand management system that is focused on the complete customer experience?