When Text Analytics is Your Brand
What I learned about personal branding at IIEX
Coming back from Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEX) this week in Atlanta and thought I’d blog briefly about the two panel sessions on Personal/Digital Branding in which I participated.
My main reason for attending IIEX was actually to give a brief presentation on the dramatic improvements we’ve made to our OdinText text analytics software, and how it brings value to untapped consumer text data (open-ends, NPS reasons, customer feedback, website comments, etc.), and how it can really turn any market research analyst into a powerful Data Scientist. Because of IIeX’s stellar reputation, this was the first time we’ve ever given any kind of demo of OdinText in public. Usually our presentations are approved case studies about how our clients like Coca-Cola, Disney, Shell Oil, etc. are using the tool. Also, as text analytics remains a very competitive field, we prefer to share details around the software with those we know have the kind of data where OdinText can be useful.
However, since we are launching a new version of OdinText and I was assured by Lenny Murphy that, contrary to what I believed, most attendees actually want to see software demos rather than just hear use cases. In case you missed it, I’ve posted a brief teaser video below, along with a shameless plug before I go on. If you regularly collect comment type text data, we’d love to hear from you and get you more info about OdinText (Request Info Here). Shameless ad plug over.
Other than showing off OdinText though, I was also honored to be asked to sit on a personal branding panel with prolific market research tweeters Tom Ewing and Annie Pettit, as well as Dave McCaughan who is a well-known name in East Asian and Australian market research circles.
On the Summer Friday (at 5:30pm no less) before our Monday morning session, Annie Pettit came up with the idea to field an impromptu convenience sample survey, and to my surprise by Sunday afternoon we already had about 150 comments relating to the panelists. Lenny Murphy who has also accumulated a loyal #MRX following on Twitter and on the Greenbook blog was also included in the survey which asked something like “Q. What three things first come to mind when you hear each of these names/personal brands?”.
Though this sample is a bit on the small side for OdinText I quickly visualized the comments to give us some idea of how similar/different each of these 5 ‘brands’ are and what specific topics most frequently co-occur with each of them.
I’m sure all of us were equally interested in the findings, because let’s face it, while EVERYONE has a personal brand (even if unfortunately not everyone recognizes it), few of us ever get an insight into what it really means to people in this unaided top-of-mind market research sort of way.
We agreed not to share any of each other’s raw data, but I’m fine sharing the first 40 responses I received (both good, bad and ugly) below, sorted alphabetically:
American linked in conversationalist
Analytical, ever-present, helpful analytics omnipresent
beard, omnipresence and self publicity
Fun honest text analytics
Hans Christian Anderson
He’s all about new, cool & hip in the quant world
His banner ads pursue me remorselessly around the web marketing
know his name but can’t recall…
Lover of anything that reminds him of the Swedish socialist utopia
next gen guy
odin text – text pro
OdinText Text Analytics, smart, trustworthy
respected, helpful, innovative smart
Social media junkie
straight shooter. willing to challenge hyped claims. maybe falling too in love with his own methodology
text analytics odintext
Text analytics pro
Text Analytics, expert, outspoken, industry leader,
text analytics, NGMR, vikings
Text master, text Analytics
The first to advocate Next Gen Market Research, especially Text Analytics and Data Mining,
The first market researcher to truly understand social, AND bold enough to stand up against trade orgs on behalf
of mid-small research firms. A true research hero
Tom is a great example of focusing on one thing you really care about and want to make better,
and then actually doing that..
Tweeted this survey
up against trade orgs on behalf of mid-small research firms. A true research hero.
A first thing that struck me looking at both the responses for my ‘brand’ as well as those of the others on the panel was that the negative comments, while few overall, were also rather consistent proportionately across all of us.
I think this may have come as a surprise to some of the others, but I expected a few negative remarks related to some of the positions I’ve taken about market research. While I believe the majority of US researchers agree with me, my positions weren’t as welcome by an outspoken few researchers more closely associated or working for these trade organizations. So the question is, as it relates to our personal brands, should we shy away from controversy (as long as it’s not personal or destructive in nature)? And the answer is, I don’t think it’s hurt my brand at all; controversy often leads to change, and usually change for the better. I’m happy to be associated with these issues, and do not fear ruffling feathers.
Of greater importance, and more surprising to me, was that our company brands were almost never mentioned for any of us. I’ve been concerned whether my comments related to other areas of consumer insights research have taken away from what I really want to be known for, OdinText and Text Analytics. The good news was that when market researchers who know me think of me, they think “Text Analytics”. The bad news was that few mention the brand OdinText. But how bad is this really?
A few months ago I wrote about personal branding and Kristin Luck (someone else whom I definitely think should also have been on the panel). You can read that piece here, however, I think the main point is that personal brands undoubtedly create a different and more complex association network in the minds of people than corporate brands or logos do.
This can’t be a bad thing, I believe they are complimentary. If people think Tom H. C. Anderson = Text Analytics, they also are likely to think Text Analytics = Tom H. C. Anderson, and so when they have a need for text analytics, some will think of me, and then OdinText (even if the brand OdinText doesn’t first come to mind).
I’m not sure what the association network is for uber personal brands like Bill Gates or the late Steve Jobs, but I would venture to guess it’s similar. Surprisingly perhaps, Microsoft and Apple may well not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone first thinks about these two individual brands. Both really are far more complex than either of the company brands Microsoft and Apple. The individuals stand for so much more (philanthropy, design, success, strength, perseverance, intelligence, innovation…).
Definitely an interesting area, and one that could use more research, aided by text analytics of course, and OdinText ideally .
My takeaway and advice to other market researchers is that personal branding is a good thing. It’s a complex thing, and that’s a good thing. Unlike a simple company product or logo, we as people are deeper and have ability to encompass far more, and deeper dimensions. I believe these personal brands, as I know from experience is the case for both myself and Kristin Luck, have been very beneficial to the companies associated with us. It’s a truism, that this is a people business, and people buy from people.
I encourage everyone to give some thought to their personal brands. Unlike corporate brands they don’t have to be perfect. If they were, they would be very boring and one dimensional. Just be you – and let others know it!
[Tom H. C. Anderson is Founder & CEO of Text Analytics SaaS firm OdinText (www.OdnText.com). He tweets under @TomHCAnderson, blogs at www.tomhhcanderson.com and manages one of the largest and most engaged market research groups on LinkedIn, Next Gen Market Research.]