BRUSSELS—Burson-Marsteller has launched a new tool designed to measure and track brands’ exposure and vulnerability to issues-based attacks from activists and other non-governmental organizations. Developed in conjunction with partner SIGWatch, a specialist NGO monitoring and analysis company, the Brand Vulnerability Index helps companies quantify brand risk; identify emerging risks, allowing pre-emptive engagement and mediation; and assess comparative risk against competitor brands.
“NGOs have demonstrated considerable power to impact brand reputation and mobilise consumer action based on perceived inconsistencies between brand promise and business performance,” says Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa region. “Digital NGO campaigns can emerge literally overnight, spread virally to activists and consumers globally in a matter of days, and cause considerable damage to both corporate reputation and brand revenues.
“The BVI will allow companies to track and monitor their brand risk real-time, but also to understand when engagement and changes in corporate behaviour or policy are critical to avoid a damaging public campaign.”
The BVI draws on SIGWatch’s extensive tracking database of more than 3,000 NGOs to assess brand risk based on seven variables, including sectoral exposure and cultural and political risk; examine NGO force, the collective weight of NGOs active on the issue, weighted for size and influence; and evaluate NGO pressure, the level and trend of current NGO campaigning and likely trajectory and tactics.
The weighted sum of these factors provides a raw BVI measure, which is then adjusted based on an assessment of brand “insurance”: any mitigation activities such as supply chain certification, social investment programmes, NGO alliances and other measures to address concerns and promote sustainability.