No story lives unless somebody wants to listen.

JK Rowling

What is brand listening?

It will come as no surprise if I tell you that consumers want brands to listen to them, understand their concerns and act on them. Yes. Not only to improve the services and products they pay for but as a way to build consumer-brand relationships. As a brand, this helps with you with your branding: build brand awareness, brand trust, brand loyalty and storytelling. Specifically in light of the shortcomings brought by COVID.

Some brands do that better than others as it requires responsibility and activity monitoring social channels for mentions of:

  • frictions,
  • keywords,
  • brand
  • your product or service
  • competitors
  • consumer sentiments

The key is to look for pain points within your customer journey that will help you develop and improve customer experience and act upon them. Active brands have been shown to have higher consumer-brand relationships in studies done by the University of Portsmouth. Their findings suggest that consumers prefer brands to be more responsible and sincere.

Social listening implications for marketers

There is more pressure than ever to create authentic branding. Prospects prefer brands to be more responsible and sincere than ever before. Covid has brought with it a health awareness movement and needs for connection. Consumers are starting to pay more attention toward social responsibility, and ethical brands. Remember, people don’t buy our products to do us a favour but because they feel listened to, heard and understood.

However there is hope, half of worldwide marketers turned to social listening during the pandemic to understand consumer sentiment and changing preferences according to eMarketer and Gartner.

Why not more? This may be because there are still limitations on how we source our data. Marketers are still reliant on Twitter as their data source. Using Private messaging, ClubHouse, Instagram and Linkedin stories and TikTok as a source of truth is difficult if not impossible. But this just proves that we need to complement our data with other research; questionnaires, interview’s, surveys and Google Alerts to name but a few.

It is also essential to point out that many people that discuss brands online may not follow those brands’ owned profiles, so it is crucial to look beyond your own community comments to gain a full understanding of the complete picture.

How Do Brands Listen?


The most recent of our examples, though a slightly forced one, is the Indian company Myntra. After a complaint was filed against the company in January with Mumbai Police’s cybercrime department the brand had to redesign their logo. According to Indian Express, their logo was described as “insulting and offensive towards women”.

The claim is that the original ‘M’ logo (below) “resembled a naked woman”. I can’t say that I had spotted this myself, but I must admit, now I can’t stop seeing it.

Twitter is obviously picking up on it worrying whether other ‘M’ shaped logo designs should be questioned too. Whereas I am wondering if this is an excuse to bring up the ill-received news of Gmails new logo design back in October?


A Facebook fan was the inspiration for Hallmarks 2020 Mother’s Day ad spot. This brilliant idea was sparked through social listening after recognising that not all motherhood was the same.

Hallmark created a commercial (below) featuring a mother whose daughter has Down Syndrome. This post cultivated deeper connections with consumers by incorporating an actual consumer’s story into its brand narrative.

“We are always listening in an effort to provide products that reflect [customers’] needs and lives,”  

Lindsey Roy, Hallmark’s CMO.


Back in September 2018 McDonald’s announced that they would ditch plastic straws in the UK in favour of paper straws.

The move came as the result of pressure from a customer-led campaign with over half a million signatures.

The chain reported that they used 1.8m plastic straws a day. This change is part of their value proposition to “do the right thing” and as a result opened a new paper straw making factory in Wales that to help deal with demand from the UK market.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is renowned for his social appearances and controversial actions, however, listening to his customers to make decisions is also in his branding handbook; a great reference point for any company that takes customer experience seriously.

Only thirty minutes after tweeter Paul Franks raised an issue with Tesla cars to Musk, the CEO replied with a promise to fix it in the next software update. Valuing customer feedback is one thing, but addressing it in that time frame is seriously impressive. This is a true example of brand listening.

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By turning into an active brand that listens to your audience you are opening up a gateway of opportunity. It paves the way to understanding:

  • the problems consumers have, providing an opportunity to create solutions and eradicate pain points.
  • solutions and features consumers desire, providing opportunities for new features, products or services.
  • questions your audience ask, providing opportunities to create content and establish trust and web presence.
  • your customers’ brand perception, enabling you to work on aligning authentic branding and your values with those of your customers.
  • those things your customers really love (and don’t) about your products and services, so that you can tweak these.
  • industry trends, customer trends, customer experience and crisis management, which will allow you to quickly get on top an emerging crisis or market saturation.

How to get started with Brand listening

  1. Listen to social media chatter and join the conversation.
  2. Watch how your customers use your product or app and ask them questions. Try to do this in their natural surrounding and show genuine interest behind why they use it in their chosen style or manner.
  3. Eavesdrop in social forums like Reddit by following popular industry-related hashtags.
  4. Use a social listening tool like SproutSocial.
  5. Send out a survey to your audience asking them how they feel about a given experience, problem, value product or service.

These five simple brand listening techniques will help you learn, understand, adapt with change and take action helping you move towards building better customer experience and awareness.

If you want to learn more or discuss anything else in this blog schedule a quick call. I’d be happy to chat!


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