April 12, 2016

Using Research to Guide Branding Efforts

research2Congratulations. Your organization’s leaders have decided to establish a new positioning statement, brand platform, externally facing mission statement and even a new slogan. And they want you to come up with concepts and copy to get the message out. Now what?

Before you jump in head first, put together a work plan to collect marketplace research in order to create a brand platform and strategy that will support your organization’s suite of current and future products and services.

Your new brand platform and strategy should be developed based on research with key internal and external stakeholders, and should:

  • Be specific, focusing on one main concept rather than attempting to embody the entire mission.
  • Emphasize attributes that are important to target audiences.
  • Accurately describe your organization.
  • Be slightly aspirational, giving your organization something to live up to.
  • Remain stable over time and separate from shorter-term-focused marketing plans.
  • Be aligned with the organization’s strategic plan.
  • Be reflected in all future communications emanating from your organization at all levels.

In our agency’s experience in conducting hundreds of these types of brand discovery assignments, we have found that focusing on two types of research helps lead to the best outcomes.

Conduct primary research

  • Conduct qualitative and quantitative research to determine the ways in which your organization can credibly claim to be different. This research should ideally include the following stakeholders:
    • Leadership (5–10 individuals). This facilitated group session will assess your organization’s current situation with respect to branding and marketing, and outline challenges and opportunities.
    • Key internal managers and employees (10–15 individual interviews of sales and customer service managers, etc.). These stakeholders are influential, and without their involvement and buy-in, future promotion of your brand may suffer.
    • Current customers (online survey). Respondents to this short survey will be able to provide feedback on your image and position. An online survey provides a quick response, is less expensive than a phone survey and allows for branching of questions.
    • Prospective customers (based on your sales database). Respondents will be able to provide feedback on your image and distinctive position.

Conduct secondary research

  • Review your existing marketing research and strategic plan.
  • Review your existing marketing and communications materials.
  • Review competitor communications.

This primary and secondary research will allow you to compare internal and external perceptions of your organization and identify gaps; identify the perception and unique position of your organization in the minds of primary audiences, including prospective customers; and create an overall consistent and integrated brand positioning statement that is relevant and meaningful, and will motivate target customers to seek an association with your organization.

If your work plan includes these important research steps, you will be on your way to building a sustainable brand platform that embodies what your organization believes in and does.


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