What Is Your Brand Quotient BQ?


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Despite the best efforts of some in the CRM business to kill them off, brands and branding are doing as well as ever. Indeed, in a world of over-abundance of commodity products, strong brands provide a comforting feeling to customers otherwise overwhelmed with choice.

So when I read of a new Brand Quotient (BQ) Test based on Jay Barney’s VRIO framework, I could hardly wait. The VRIO framework looks at a company’s business capabilities in terms of their Value, Rarity, Imitability and Organisation. It is at the cutting edge of strategy formulation. Companies with high VRIO scores have a sustainable competitive advantage and deliver superior business results.

If BQ really is based upon the VRIO framework, then the Test should provide a maturity model detailing the capabilities any company needs to excel at branding.

How disappointed I was when I saw that the Test only provides a list of simplistic questions that touch superficially on branding capabilities. Rather than a comprehensive branding maturity model, I just got a ‘How’s Your Branding?’ questionnaire! It’s not so much that the Test’s questions are wrong, they aren’t, just that they don’t provide any insight into the business capabilities that sit behind excellent brands.

If you are looking for guidance on what capabilities you need to excel at branding, far better to look at David Aaker’s Brand Architecture model or Kevin Lane Keller’s Brand Report Card. These are the real McCoy.

Tip of the hat to Kevin Zimmerman at the Think Customers: The 1to1 Blog.

What do you think? Does the Brand Quotient really help you know how to develop a strong brand? Or is it just a fluffy branding questionnaire?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamhill/


  1. Graham,

    Thank you for your coverage of the BQ test and for encouraging a healthy debate on the subject. I am looking forward to the responses of your readers.

    Perhaps I can provide some clarification for the rationale behind the BQ model. As a marketing executive for more than 20 years, I have been amazed at how many companies that consider themselves brand leaders have no concept of branding basics. I can certainly understand how someone of your expertise could be frustrated by this decidedly basic test. But what is basic to you is an epiphany for Presidents and CEO’s who focus on what they believe is branding, when, in fact, they are focusing on creating a lot of “marketing activities” like ad and PR campaigns which have no basis in strategy.

    I recently had members of a major corporation take this test and separated their answers by senior level managers and sales staff. The two groups’ average scores in all four categories were almost identical, but what was truly revealing is that they scored themselves consistently high on brand execution and consistently low on brand strategy. So the question becomes “How can you execute on a brand when you don’t have a brand strategy?” What’s even more amazing is that this very typical of the answers I see in general. These are intelligent people but they are so far removed from a basic knowledge of brand strategy, alignment, communications and execution, they have no idea that they and their sales teams can be the biggest diluters of their own brands.

    For that reason the BQ test focuses on the basics and not was intended to be a maturity model. It is geared toward company leaders who need first and foremosst a working understanding of branding. The average scores on these tests as they come back to me is about 75 but have gone much lower for some. I rarely see scores higher than 80.

    So while not intended for the Proctor and Gambles of the world (or the Graham Hills!), this test is needed by so many others who are struggling to understand how branding fits into the overall scheme. They need to know that branding is no longer something that should be left to the marketing department, but an overall strategic concept that must be communicated, leveraged and reinforced by the company leader and senior managers. They need to understand that business decisions must be made based on wheter or not these decisions will support the brand, dilute it, or negate it.

    I thank you for encouraging responses and debate from your readers– it’s all good and I look forward to hearing about everyone’s experience with the test. As they say, when two people in business agree, one of them is unnecessary. Many thanks for your review, Graham.

    Sandra Sellani
    Author, What’s Your BQ

  2. Graham, I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. To answer your question:

    [quote=graham_hill] Does the Brand Quotient really help you know how to develop a strong brand? Or is it just a fluffy branding questionnaire?

    My answer is neither. Any online test you can take in 5 minutes is not going to tell you how to “develop a strong brand.” At best, you can learn some areas of strength and weakness, and provide some food for thought.

    Personally, I think we need more tools like the BQ. I took it myself, and, frankly, the questions were at least as insightful as Keller’s “Brand Report Card” which leads with the shockingly obvious number one trait of the world’s top brands: “The brand excels at delivering the benefits that customers truly desire.”

    The second trait, “the brand stays relevant,” and the rest are equally obvious. The article’s “brand rating” says you can take the 10 attributes and rate each on a scale of one to 10, and use it to “generate discussion.” Whoopee. This is the “real McCoy?”

    The BQ online assessment works better for me. However, while the letter grades are nice feedback, I’d prefer a percentile rank so I’d know where I fit relative to other companies. It’s also not clear how these assessments can be validly compared across companies of different sizes and industries.

    Bob Thompson, CustomerThink Corp.
    Blog: Unconventional Wisdom

  3. Bob,

    Thank you for your comments.

    You’re absolutely right about the percentile rank and it is in progress. Since this is still a new tool that people are starting to use, I’m gathering data from different industries for comparison purposes. So far, I have seen high scores in the hotel/hospitality industry and low scores in commercial real estate. As I get enough data for each caetegory, I will start posting these on the site as well.

    Also, the test is part of a 300 page book, which offers more insite on brand building. The test on the website is helpful, but when viewed in context of the book, it is more relevant.

    Many thanks for your comments.

    Sandra Sellani
    [email protected]


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