"For a Marketer, that's the Holy Grail."

Julian Aldridge VP, Brand Evangelism and Activation at Charles Schwab

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Monitor 360 is the Narrative Analytics™ and Strategy company

We help organizations understand, analyze, and shape the narratives that are most impacting their business. Narrative Analytics™ is a listening-oriented approach; it combines the depth of social science with the scale of data science, leveraging large data sets to surface "beliefs at scale."


Apple: Keeping the Worm out of Its Brand Leveraging Narratives About Cybersecurity and Privacy for Competitive Differentiation

By Josh DeLong, Elizabeth Wente, and Guillaume Julian

Background: Following a number of high-profile security breaches and increasing consumer scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s privacy policies, Apple faces a potential decline in consumer trust and confidence. To prevent a loss of market share and shepherd its expansion into new markets, Apple is attempting to make privacy and security core components of its brand. Tim Cook is leading the charge, taking aim at competitors’ privacy policies and attempting to turn TouchID, powerful encryption, and two-step verification into marketing tools. But, is this strategy to “own” security and privacy working? Could it backfire if Apple suffers a major security breach or privacy incident? How can Apple better navigate consumer concerns? Monitor 360 used its Narrative Analytics™ methodology to uncover the narratives that people hold about Apple’s cybersecurity and privacy, assess the risks and opportunities of this strategy, and analyze what companies can learn from Apple’s experience.


With personal data of millions of users stored across dozens of product lines, the stakes for Apple are high to assure customers that their devices are secure and their sensitive data is protected. Apple’s leadership has chosen to go on the offensive amid increasing cyber threats and heightened consumer concern, by leaning into privacy and security as part of its brand promise. The potential upsides are real—increased customer trust and brand equity, competitive differentiation, and the opportunity to proactively shape a positive security image before a potential breach. The last time a company wants to start considering how security and privacy factor into their reputation is after customer trust has just vanished and shareholders are demanding answers.

This strategy also poses significant risks, especially as Apple expands into new markets like wearables and electronic payments, where data security and privacy are paramount. If it’s not done in the right way, talking more about security or privacy issues could introduce fear and uncertainty that wasn’t present before, tempt hackers and criminals to challenge Apple’s security claims, and leave Cupertino looking hypocritical in the event of a hack or breach.

Can Apple win and sustain consumer trust and confidence in an era of inevitable discoveries of attacks and vulnerabilities? Are these efforts influencing customer perceptions positively or introducing new concerns? Will Tim Cook’s messaging campaign effectively distance the company from competitors? And, what can companies learn from Apple’s attempts to use privacy and security for competitive advantage?


Monitor 360 set out to evaluate whether Apple’s efforts to use cybersecurity as a core brand differentiator is cutting through the noise of malware advisories, reported vulnerabilities, and the constant scrutiny and speculation about Apple and its products. Using our Narrative Analytics™ methodology, we analyzed over 2,100 unique articles, op-eds, and business analyses appearing in national, regional, and local publications over the last twelve months. We uncovered six distinct narratives within the Narrative Landscape™ about Apple’s cybersecurity and measured their Narrative Impact™.*


*Narrative Impact scores measure the prominence of a narrative relative to the broader media conversation on a given issue on a normalized scale......


California Milk Advisory Board Uses Narrative Analytics to Gain Deep Consumer Insight to Drive a New Campaign

By Kevin Rockmael

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, JULY 9, 2015 - The California Milk Advisory Board’s (CMAB) objective is to promote California dairy products in a highly competitive marketplace. This requires developing compelling communications and advertising messages that resonate with diverse audiences, whether through print, television, or online media

In 2014, the CMAB enlisted the services of Monitor 360, a San Francisco-based Narrative Analytics™ + Strategy company, to apply its proprietary methodology to gain insights into how consumers think about key topics related to milk and dairy, as well as the state of California itself.

“Our objective was to create a new campaign that would connect deeply with consumers, and ultimately drive an increase in purchases of California milk products” says John Talbot, CEO of CMAB. “Like many CPG and food companies, we had a lot of data and information about the consumer but it can be challenging to make sense of it. We engaged Monitor 360 to provide foundational insights that would help guide our creative strategy, by tapping into the underlying beliefs and assumptions that consumers have about milk based products and California. Through their Narrative Analytics approach, Monitor 360 was able to surface ‘beliefs at scale’ to feed our creative development process and give us confidence in our strategic direction.”

Step 1: Assessing the Landscape

Monitor 360 began its Narrative Analytics™ process by reviewing content from different online channel.Using powerful data analysis tools, Monitor 360’s analysts were able to ingest digital “conversations” about dairy and California at a massive scale, including 1.9 million blog posts, 3.9 million news items, and 125 million tweets and posts published over a one-year span

Each channel provided unique value in uncovering insights and trends. “Blog posts are ideal for identifying and understanding narratives held by the general public, as they tend to be unprompted and unfiltered,” explains Doug Randall, CEO of Monitor 360. “At the same time, social media provides a remarkable window into how narratives get amplified and triggered by certain events. And news media reveals the ‘top-down’ narratives consumers are exposed to that impact their attitudes and beliefs.”

2. A Picture Emerges

Next, using both machine-driven and human analysis, Monitor 360 identified a range of rich narratives representing consumer’s underlying beliefs, as expressed in online content. Narratives provide a powerful lens into what drives consumer attitudes and behavior. The dairy landscape revealed nine narratives, including “Innovative Dairy” and “America Screams for Ice Cream,” each reflecting a different belief about dairy products and their role in our lives. Monitor 360’s analysts then assessed the relative strength of each narrative among different audiences, and used “footprint analysis” to understand each narrative’s connection to specific products (e.g., milk, ice cream, butter). Similarly, the California landscape revealed nine narratives, showing a diversity of beliefs about the state and what it represents to people. Those narratives included “California Connections” and “Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”......


Making Sure the Cup Stays Full at Starbucks: Leveraging Narratives from Glassdoor.com to Improve Recruitment and Retention

Jess Stein, Sophie Sakellariadis & Alex Cole July 2015

Background: Employee engagement in the retail industry has long been an uphill battle, but Starbucks has been a trailblazer in the field, pioneering generous healthbenefits, tuition support, and long-term career development programs. But are these efforts paying off? Critically, have they impacted the mindsets employees hold about Starbucks in a way that fuels retention, recruitment, and ultimately profit? Using over 5,000 company reviews from Glassdoor.com, Monitor 360 applied its Narrative Analytics™ methodology to uncover the narratives that employees hold about Starbucks and identify opportunities for Starbucks—and others in the retail industry—to improve employee engagement initiatives, optimize its externally-facing employment brand, and drive business success.


In the world of retail, Starbucks is an undisputed champion of employee engagement, recruitment, and retention. CEO Howard Schultz claims that Starbucks’ relationship “with our people and the culture of our company is our most sustainable competitive advantage." The company prides itself on its “legendary service,” and supports wideranging perks for members of the Starbucks “family”—including full health benefits for part-time employees and unprecedented tuition reimbursement for Arizona State University’s online courses—that frequently attract top recruits in the retail industry.

Starbucks’ innovations in employee engagement have yielded tangible results, contributing to an average rating on Glassdoor.com of 3.8 stars out of 5—compared to 2.8 for Dunkin Donuts and 3.2 for Peet’s Coffee—and helping Starbucks to beat the average industry turnover rate by 140%. Yet in spite of its impressive performance in relation to its peers, the level of turnover at Starbucks is still costly, requiring the company to invest $3,000 to replace just one barista.

What more can the company do to close the door on employee exits and attract highquality recruits? Beyond just offering more expensive perks, how can Starbucks leadership identify what motivates their 190,000 employees, and more effectively connect with—and shape—existing beliefs employees hold about the company that affect morale and inform the perception of their “employment brand” with prospective employees?


Monitor 360 set out to understand the “why” behind employee satisfaction at Starbucks—to uncover what employees really believe about the company, and identify new opportunities to more effectively shape engagement initiatives. Using our Narrative Analytics™ methodology, we analyzed over 5,000 U.S.-based employee reviews of Starbucks on Glassdoor.com. Through our analysis, we surfaced six distinct organizational narratives that employees hold about the company, and measured their Narrative Volume™.*......


Using Narrative to Get Beyond Big Data Uber-Hype

Matthew BrodskyEditor, Wharton Magazine - February 28, 2015

Big data in business retains an exotic allure—although the term appears to be everywhere and may be approaching the state of uber-hype (pun not intended). If there is a knock about big data, it’s that business leaders run the risk of looking at a lump of data and wonder, “What problems can we solve?”

Doug Randall, WG’97, has a simpler definition for big data, a definition that gets to the heart of the practical and powerful intent of analytics.

“Big data means just using data to solve problems,” he says. “The question is: Which problems [to solve]?”

In the case of the San Francisco-based company Randall founded, Monitor 360, analysts start with the problems, then build a data-driven approach to solve them

It goes back to how Monitor 360 got its start working with security/military agencies. Initially, Randall was hired by the White House and the U.S. intelligence community after 9/11 to help the nation avoid future strategic surprises by understanding and tracking the narratives of terrorists. The work led to Monitor 360 to analyze “master narratives”—conducting “narrative analytics” as they call it—across more than 40 countries and working on other high-stakes issues, like climate change.

In the course of its work, Monitor 360 called in experts from different disciplines for answers—how can one understand what drives people’s behavior—and it wasn’t until they brought in anthropologists that Randall and company came to appreciate the value of “narrative.” In this context, we’re not talking about the voice of a narrator talking over a movie or whether a novel is written in first person or third person. Narratives as understood by Monitor 360 are deeply held belief systems that lead people to take certain actions.

Later, a U.S. intelligence agency hired Monitor 360 to understand “audience resonance”—how and why messages from politicians work on some audiences or not.

Randall reasons that the military and government deal with problems more complex than the ones businesses typically deal with, and to solve these problems, clarity is needed about their nature and the nature of the solutions.

In the past couple of years, Monitor 360 has moved toward conducting narrative analytics for corporate clients. Clients like Charles Schwab & Co. monitor narratives to impact sales strategy, Salesforce to better plan new market entry and PG&E to understand its employees’ beliefs so that it can effect organizational change. As with climate change or terrorism, Monitor 360 is trying to assist organizations with complex societal problems. For the Gates Foundation and its efforts to reform education, for instance, narrative analytics involves looking at what teachers think about curriculums, professional pathways, their own careers, and their perspectives on parents and kids......