Last month the Australian Labor Government had a month they would rather forget. A bitter and bloody leadership battle between the former Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd and Prime Minister Julia Gillard placed the party under serious public scrutiny and questions were raised by media and opposition regarding their legitimacy to lead the nation.  The polls indicated a significant drop in public support for Labor reflecting the ‘brand damage’ suffered throughout the ordeal. Brand image and reputation is a risk category that concerns all organisations operating in the public sphere. It reflects the values and behaviours that are held in high esteem by their stakeholders and the community.

In politics brand risk is measured through polling. Regular samples of measurable public opinion convey the public’s sentiment regarding how well a person or party meets public expectation and confidence.

ASX listed companies can also measure brand value.  This can be reflected by share price performance.  While share price is a reflection of company value in the marketplace it also reflects the shareholders perception about the image and reputation of the brand.

Most other non-listed organsiations by comparison have fewer mechanisms available to measure their brand image and reputation on a continuous basis. In fields where measurable means of brand assessment are too costly, organisations need to be creative in developing ways to gauge stakeholder perception.

For businesses that deal directly with the consumer, social media can offer a risk indicator for measuring brand risk. Discussion generated through a variety of online forums, as well as tweets, status updates, fan pages and blogs can provide insight into an organisation’s reputation and changes in levels of public support.  Such methods are measurable and quantifiable and can reflect a tone of public sentiment.  Other methods might include customer surveys and the level of repeatable business.

In the case of Federal Labor with 18 months before the next election, it will remain to be seen whether they can recover from the last month’s disaster and restore the public’s faith in the party’s ‘brand’.