I would imagine that for brands like Colgate or Honda, measuring "brand" is something pretty important to someone, somewhere in the brand management department. I would also imagine that somewhere in the web design department there is also someone with ready access to that data almost free gratis and in real time! I wouldn't be surprised if the brand departments are spending tens of thousands of pounds a month for something a techie can give them more accurately and in real time for free.
Take Receptional, for instance. Our brand is growing nicely. In fact - I pulled off a graph just five minutes ago showing exactly how Receptional's brand has grown over a four year period.
This is simply found by filtering out any visitors to the site that can positively be identified as having typed in "Receptional" as a search term. Now, for an offline brand I could probably get this graph more accurate. I should take into account that internet usage itself has grown over this period, so of course the number is likely to increase, but I have a maths degree and a clever fellow director whose Excel skills make my own Excel skills look like something out of CBeebies, so I am sure we can accommodate that variable.
Your web analytics system will provide a simple yet verifiable proxy as to whether your brand is developing nicely or falling into the mire. However, brand reputation is not always good without measuring it in comparison to your competition. I have to admire Compete.com (not least because the chart below is their copyright) for making this easy for us. I am glad to say that our brand is starting to gain ground against our own competitors:
Since the two companies above Receptional have both been taken over in 2007 and are substantially larger than Receptional, I can see that we are packing a punch right now. That's great, because it helps me argue my case on going to SEO conferences.
If you would like Receptional to analyse your competitors online, please contact the sales team.