But how? How do you measure the development of the Brabant image as a whole? Important note: this is different from measuring the impact of regional branding; after all, the image is determined by a sum of various factors of which regional branding is just one. Think of current events, marketing, and other communication activities of companies and organizations in Brabant, but also positive and negative media coverage.
Another question we asked ourselves: is the image of Brabant (or another region) already being measured, and can we possibly use that methodology? The answer to the latter question was 'no.' At least not in the way we envisioned.
So there was only one thing to do: develop our own research instrument. An instrument that provides basic insights into the development towards the desired image.
And, as we do in Brabant, we do that together. The importance of a sound research instrument was widely recognized, both by Brabant Branding and the intended partners: BOM, Brainport, VisitBrabant, BrabantKennis, BrabantC, and BrabantSport. What do they want to know? And we? And together? What data do you need for this? And how do you ultimately measure it, and from whom?
The result of this collaboration is the Imagomonitor Brabant. Its goal is to show how both Brabanders and non-Brabanders think about the Brabant region. This shows whether the values from the Brabant brand filter are actually seen, recognized, and experienced. The research is based on the methodology of Boisen and Fernandez-Cavia, which measures an image from four perspectives:
To measure this, we conducted the Imagomonitor among two different populations: residents of Brabant and residents of the other eleven provinces of the Netherlands.
From the 1st edition of the Imagomonitor Brabant (end of 2020), it appeared that there was a strong consensus in the most common spontaneous associations among large parts of both Brabanders and non-Brabanders. In other words, Brabant is a strong brand! The very strong associations 'coziness' and 'carnival' represent the Brabantish character and mentality. For 'internationally oriented,' 'boundary-pushing,' and 'high-tech,' it's different. Those scores are not bad but considerably lower than the other scores. Brabanders themselves believe that high-tech, innovation, and daring to do things differently do fit with Brabant, but more non-Brabanders still need to be convinced of this. More extensive results are described in another article.
Now we have, in addition to our own research instrument, an initial 'status' of the image of the Brabant region. We collect this status every two years, so we can truly monitor how the image is or isn't developing over time. This will certainly not result in significant changes with each measurement; after all, changing an image is a long-term endeavor. Furthermore, as mentioned, Brabant is a strong brand that has developed over hundreds of years into what it is today; adding a specific additional association to people's top-of-mind associations will take time. If the monitor proves itself in the coming years, it can be expanded. With additional questions, a specific questionnaire for businesses, or with questionnaires in other languages. Also, data collected from our partners' research can be linked to the Imagomonitor dashboard. This way, we not only collect data together but also use them together.
The methodology for the Imagomonitor was developed in 2020 by Brabant Branding (Province of North Brabant), Martin Boisen (For the Love of Place), Sierdjan Koster (University of Groningen), Karel Jan Alsem, and Jan Wever (Hanzehogeschool Groningen). In addition to Brabant Branding, Altuïtion agency also played a significant role in the execution of the first edition of the Imagomonitor for Brabant. The research panel of Dynata and the digital infrastructure of Expoints ensure that we ultimately have all the data available in a dashboard.