What is Brand Research?
During the act of developing a new brand, whether it’s new or you are adjusting and or refining a previously existing brand, this process can be a huge ordeal. Your brand plays a significant role in defining your business. It is one of the most valuable assets. It affects how you conduct yourself, how you work, communicate, look and so much more. What’s more, conducting any type of branding activity can be a huge economic burden, including being a drain on time and resources. And so, it would be extremely wise to ensure all your branding efforts are maximized towards reaching optimal results.
When it comes to developing a brand, it requires a lot more than simply being guided by what feels or looks right to you, or by what you imagine your supposed targeted audience expects. To create a successful brand that appropriately reflects who and what you stand for, and fulfils the expectations that your actual (correctly defined) targeted audience demands, along with being able to properly position your brands correctly within a well-understood marketplace, you need to do some Band Research.
Brand Research Data
As mentioned in the introduction, Brand Research should certainly be a prerequisite for any serious brand owner. Brand research delivers irrefutable data and facts, and when interpreted, the results of your research efforts will aid in directing and optimizing future business decision-making. It should also go towards providing insight towards tracking people’s awareness, perception, and experience in relation to how consumers interact, experience your business, brand, products, and services. What’s more, it should also provide insight to positioning your brand appropriately amongst your competitors and to provide the promise and perception your audience desires and needs.
So where to begin, what types of things should we investigate, what research results do we need to move forward?
Understanding Brand Perception
There are many facets to brand research, some of which we will explain. But for starters let’s consider your brand’s personality (personality relates to shaping consumer perception which also goes towards aiding the development of your Brand Identity). By now we should understand that a brand is far more than simply a logo, product type, or service. You could try to imagine your brand as a living entity, with its unique character as derived by not only all that it encompasses in terms of its visual representation, but in the way it interacts with its audience, which is generally conducted by Stakeholders, employees and external influencers interacting with your audience. It hosts its base origin, vision, objectives, beliefs, and perhaps it even has a soul. So how do we develop such a rich personality?
To shape your audience’s perception, we need to define the character of your brand’s personality through focusing research efforts in determining how your brand communicates with your audience, and how its message can alter perception towards your brand. This requires actively seeking interaction with your audience by communicating with them, and not purely one-to-one but providing a means in which you can ask questions, receive answers, analyze and respond, and gain feedback using a cyclic process.
This process of gathering information typically uses interviews and surveys and listening to customers by hearing and reading what people have to say through reviews, shares, and so on. All of which allows brand owners to become abreast and informed and ready to adapt accordingly due to analyzing the data.
Understanding the Market
Secondly, we want to look into whether or not your brand is positioned correctly, which would include analyzing competitors, discovering which brand has the highest unaided awareness levels, the types of keywords consumers use when searching for or associating with your brands, products, and services, learning what people have to say about other brands, and looking for opportunities to differentiate your brand from the rest. We want to discover and discern where your brand sits, by comparison, to gain a clear comprehensive understanding of your industry, market and how consumers perceive your brand.
Additionally, we want to understand your consumers’ search intent, what keywords or search query they associate when looking for your type of brand deliverables, and how we can try to place your brand in the minds of your consumer.
Knowing Your Audience
During the phase of conducting brand Research, you will also want to consider defining and ensuring you are indeed targeting the right audience. This may also include segmenting various audiences into groups for various purposes. Such as those who are likely to buy, and those who are likely to spread brand awareness as an example.
While demographics can be helpful it may be more relevant to learn specific data that reveals why your customers buy, why they remain loyal, when do they buy, how frequent, where, how they experience your brand, when and what brands they prefer, and what influences them to purchase.
This data will vastly improve your ability to target specific groups with promotions, ads that will appeal to specific audiences and motivate them to action.
When to Conduct Brand Research?
Realistically you should conduct brand research before and or after launching your brand, and you should certainly create a cyclic schedule to periodically process analysis data for long-term purposes. When conducted appropriately all research results should reveal the actual health of your brand and allow brand owners an ability to optimize future endeavors in terms of traversing potential threats and steering towards greater opportunity.
By gaining insight and understanding what your brand represents and who your customers are, knowing your market share and position, benchmarking your brand against competitors, and being able to align all stakeholders, employees, and external influencers to follow the values as defined by your overall brand ethos and identity are all very important aspects to building a successful brand and long-term sustainable business.
Brand Research Explained
The overall objective of Brand Research is to assist in the development and means of maintaining a relevant, influential, and unique brand.
Brand Research provides a competitive advantage due to gaining unbiased insight towards things like audience perception, opinion, review, and recommendations regarding your business, brands, products, and service by incorporating multiple methods and techniques to gather said data, such as surveys, interviews, social media listening, Google Analytics and more.
Brand owners can use this information to confidently move forward and face potential challenges while simultaneously seeking new opportunities. None of these things can be achieved if you are ill-informed, ignorant, or simply don’t understand the nature of your market, your industry, your audience, your position, and how consumers experience and perceive your brand, and more.
What is Brand Analysis?
Brand analysis detects how your brand supports the promotion and sales of your brands, products, and or services. It evaluates who your audience is and what they want, it also provides insight as to what your competitors are up to, and whether or not your brand is meeting the requirements and expectations of your audience.
How it differs is that it specifically focuses on understanding what drives business in relation to brand value.
Traditional companies providing tangible products tend to focus more on ‘what we can do with what we have’. Whereas intangible or service-driven companies tend to be more customer-centric, ‘what do customers want, and how can we deliver it?’
What is a Brand Audit?
Using a complete, methodical, and almost scientific appraisal of a brand can be described as a brand audit and is primarily used to assess the equity of a brand amongst other similar brands within the same industry and or marketplace.
Brand audits are more focused on external elements associated with a brand and can often be difficult to explain due to the intangible elements that make up said brand.
What are Tangible and Intangible Branding Elements?
Tangible elements are things like brand names, logos, color, icons, graphics, music, services, touchpoints, retail design, interior layout, etc. All these aspects provide a form of psychological activation that produces a sense of brand equity, (the level of sway a brand name has in the minds of consumers) – Take Nike for example, their brand equity is brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand association – perceived as delivering high quality.
Intangible brand elements refer to things like brand perception, credibility, aesthetics, cultural, historical, and colloquial semiotics, design style, loyalty, relevance, recognition, status, and more.
Tangible assets are a lot easier to identify, something that most brand owners can determine on their own, be it in a general sense. However, it requires design expertise and associated experience to properly garner and evaluate intangible elements. To know what is conserved a cliché and what isn’t for example.
How to Discern Brand Perception?
We briefly discussed the importance of understanding how your audience perceives your brands, products, and services. Let’s take a look at how we discern these perceptions.
While we can try to build and promote positive perceptions towards a brand, it’s essential to make a concerted effort to learn what your audience truly thinks and feels about your brand, or at least discover where your weaknesses and strengths lie, by measuring brand perceptions revolving around your competitors.
Brand perception can encompass things like sensations, moods, thoughts, and behavioral responses induced by brand interactions to things associated with a brand’s design and visual identity, packaging style and format, communication methods, and environmental factors.
Put simply, we try to find out how customers feel and react when interacting with your business, brand, products, and services. Generally referring to things like face-to-face communications, reading online reviews, shares, and posts, viewing online and offline ads, viewing and handling product packaging, architecture, and interior and exterior design of a business, it can also be affected by smells, taste, sounds and so on.
During this phase of conducting Brand Research, we hope to gain an understanding of your audience, and how they perceive your brand. This data can then aid in directing how to appropriately position your brand, and as such to improve brand loyalty, to reassess your brand identity, and potentially to improve your long-term brand equity.
How to Gauge Brand Perception
- Brand sentiment
Brand sentiment refers to the feeling expressed towards your brand. Brand sentiment can be expressed as positive, negative, or neutral.
Rather than looking into quantitative data (number of comments, likes, and shares), brand sentiment looks at the context of what people are saying.
- Brand perception mapping
A brand perception map is a visual display of data that signifies how brands are perceived in relation to their competition. It aids in recognizing differentiating factors and helps to measure positive and negative brand perceptions associated.
Semiotics can be defined as the science of signs and symbols, typically garnered from the perspective of a particular culture, whereby it analyses symbols potentially embedded into a brand, typically depicted across areas of a brand, such as interactions, communication, packaging design, environment and so on.
- Cultural meaning
This involves determining how a brand portrays itself as part of a lifestyle that is socially relevant to the brand audience.
- Community meaning
Refers to how a brand relates to a group of people such as Families, Clubs, and people who share the same interests, etc. It does not refer to local communities.
- Personal meaning
Arguably the most important area to focus towards, since not only does it provide insight towards how and why an individual chooses to purchase your brand, products, and service. It also assists in better long-term interaction by implementing personalization methods.
Finally, Targeting the Right Audience.
Well, the answer should be obvious. Knowing what people are saying is one thing, you need to know who these people are. Since they are the ones buying, discussing, and thinking about your brand.
Understanding who your audience is enables you to optimize your long-term branding efforts.
Brand Research Methods
There’s a variety of ways you could choose to measure data:
- Trend analysis and or market analysis
- Reviewing related case studies and journals
- Scaling techniques to determine strengths and weakness
- Observational methods to benchmark competitor brand, products, and services
- Conducting Interviews with stakeholders to comprehend how they perceive their brand, how they differentiate, vision, and ideals, and expectations towards the research program.
- Customer surveys,
- Satisfaction surveys
- Product surveys
- Social media listening
- Website traffic analysis
- SEO analysis
- Google analytics
Brand Research: Google Analytics
How to Conduct Brand Analysis?
While customers on how they perceive your brand, brand managers can influence brand perception effectively when and if they understand who their audience is. The following list displays some of the areas we focus on during our Brand Research phase.
- We identify optimal objectives and metrics for measuring brand perception
- We gather internal information about your organization and compare that with external data
- We discover how customers experience your brand using custom research methodologies
- We compare your brand identity, communications, and how customers experience your brand alongside relevant competitors to better position your brand
- We analyze current trends both visual and contextually to provide optimal choice towards brand adaptation
Brand Research is an important aspect that significantly affects how you manage your brand. By understanding how customers are influenced, and that perception plays a massive role in urging purchase decisions is the first step towards staying abreast.
Don’t sit on the wayside, be proactive, ensure you know your audience, know what makes them tick, and learn how to shape their perceptions. Otherwise, you may end up missing the mark, and soon realize your brand equity is no longer valued or even considered relevant.
Need help with developing your Brand Communications? Please contact us at lia s. Associates | Branding and Design agency in Surabaya, alternatively we could offer a customized course on the subject to better educate your team.
Click to view our Brand Research Projects
Written by Michael Jordon
10 Jun 2021