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If I told you I had a top-of-the-line sport car that had rearview mirrors instead of a windshield, would you want to take it out on the autobahn, knowing you could only look behind you as you went speeding ahead?

Probably not. However, that is all too often what happens with brand trackers, as we found out when we recently spoke to a number of Chief Marketing Officers and Brand Managers from Fortune 1000 companies.

We asked them about the challenges they faced using the information generated by their brand trackers and here were their top 5 complaints:

1. Backward looking. Traditional brand trackers are great at telling you what happened, but there is no predictive power. And no ability to get a measure of where you are headed. It's like driving using only your rearview mirrors. It's rich information, but of very limited value.

2. Lack of link to KPIs. Their brand trackers rarely link to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For example, a CMO of a quick service chain was frustrated that he was able to see some change in the brand's image but he wasn't able to connect to the KPI of increasing sales per guest. He needed to make that linkage to justify his ad spend, but his brand tracker would not allow him to make the connection.

3. Inconsistent metrics. A CMO lamented trying to make sense of 100 brands, all measured using different attributes and different scales - defying all attempts to allow for comparisons and contrasts across the company's portfolio of brands.

4. Too much data and too little insight. We saw stacks of giant binders filled with hundreds of charts and tables, piling up untouched quarter after quarter, simply because there was so much information that any nuggets of value were too hard to find to be worth the time spent searching through the decks.

5. Limited local market monitoring. The CMOs were seeking local and regional monitoring but often only had reliable information on a national or large scale regional basis. Missing was the information to help them make informed decisions about media buys and promotions on a smaller scale regional and local basis.

Having learned where the challenges are, we set to work developing a forward looking, predictive brand equity tool that links to KPIs, uses consistent metrics, is reported insightfully and has a sample size large enough to allow us do local and regional analysis. We then subjected it to extensive testing and research on research. Watch this space for further updates. Share your beefs about the limitations of brand trackers in the comments section below.

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