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Brand Building Research Toolkit: Position Your Brand for Long-Term Growth

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by Dana Colbert

Vice President

Brand Building research connects brand teams with their customers and clients to gain insights on how the brand is perceived. Input, along with a comprehensive view of the market landscape, serves as a foundation for strategic decision-making. Insights help teams develop products or services that delight customers, maximize loyalty, and build clear differentiation in their space. These insights are an essential element of our Brand Growth Navigator approach that helps companies maintain a competitive advantage over the long term.

Brand Building research uncovers key strengths and opportunities.

Brand Building research is imperative when launching a new brand, planning a brand refresh, or considering a new line extension. Research insights also help to identify market shifts that signal opportunities or threats, or changes in consumer attitudes.

Learnings establish benchmarks that stakeholders can use to track ongoing progress, and play a critical role in helping brand teams make decisions that foster consistency and support growth outcomes for the company’s overall portfolio.

A holistic assessment starts by coalescing teams around growth objectives..

As a first step, Interviews with key stakeholders along with research the company has commissioned to date provides perspective on products or services within the brand as well as across categories.

A holistic assessment sets the project up for success, providing a baseline for discussing ongoing assumptions and hypotheses about the brand’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as its position in the market versus the competition. We also gain a deeper understanding of what stakeholders want and expect from the research, and a clear guide for structuring our approach to align with the brand team on goals.

Your customers hold the key to growing your brand.

To understand your brand’s strengths and areas of opportunity, we must uncover how customers think and feel about your brand and assess the brand’s position in an absolute sense as well as its relationship with competitors in the space.

Immersive qualitative techniques help brand teams get close to customers or clients to experience how people interact with and feel about products or services. Some of the ways we connect with consumers include:

  • In-home ethnographies: Researchers step into the natural habitats of consumers, gaining firsthand insights into their daily lives and brand interactions.
  • Immersion excursions: An immersive journey, such as a visit to a physical location or a simulated experience that helps brand teams see how people in real situations interact with their product.
  • Pop-up communities/experiences: Creating temporary communities or experiences gives brand teams an opportunity to witness or interact with consumers in real-time to gain first-hand feedback.
  • Online bulletin boards: Online forums and bulletin boards provide a virtual space for consumers to engage in discussions, share experiences or co-create ideas and messaging with brand teams.

Following these experiences, we host sessions with stakeholders to guide them through the learnings and identify opportunities for their brand. Team members may discover new strengths their brand has with consumers, unexpected uses for their products, or ideas about how consumers view their services. Teams also hear feedback that points out lower-value areas of their offering that may not warrant continued support. Insights gained from the findings inform incremental updates to their brand, and can lead to new product innovations.

Connections with customers inspire teams to design new approaches that deepen engagement and loyalty and lays the groundwork for the next phase of our research.

Validate consumer sentiment learnings and build a measurement framework.

Quantitative research transforms consumer sentiment and other factors that contribute to overall brand health into meaningful KPIs. We look at factors such as salience in the marketplace and positive consumer perceptions the brand has earned across critical attributes. Indicators such as preferred brands status show how the brand is perceived versus the competition and testing for connectivity and resonance measures brand loyalty.

These factors help us identify the essential metrics that will impact overall brand health.

Brand Health Score serves as a loadstar for tracking progress and meeting market needs.

A Brand Health Score is a single metric that measures performance on key growth drivers over time to guide ongoing activation strategy.

There is no one-size-fits-all set of metrics for a Brand Health Score. To understand what is driving brand performance and how teams can use the insights to influence its success we assess a mix metrics to arrive at the best measurement approach:

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT scores provide a snapshot of how satisfied your customers are with your brand. This metric can be measured through single-value ratings or multi-dimensional scales, offering a nuanced view of customer sentiment.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a powerful metric built on the likelihood of customers recommending your brand. It categorizes respondents into promoters, passives, and detractors, developing a clear picture of brand advocacy.
  • Share of Wallet (SOW) reflects the portion of a customer’s category spending allocated to your brand. It quantifies your brand’s wallet share, shedding light on customer loyalty and preference.
  • Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) is a sophisticated analytical approach that unravels the intricate relationships between various brand elements. It provides Driver Impact Scores, pinpointing the levers that most significantly influence brand health. Explore its benefits and drawbacks in our blog post about using structural equation modeling.

We carefully vet the research to deliver a holistic view of the insightsyour brand’s performance given the current state of the market . The information helps us build competitive evaluations that provide critical information about the brand’s performance given the state of the market so teams can develop strategic, growth-focused action plans.

Teams reference their Brand Health Score to monitor progress and identify new opportunities.

Metrics serve as the basis for the Brand Health Score that monitors ongoing progress and points to which levers to pull to optimize performance when needed. It’s also a reference point that can indicate market shifts or changes in customer preferences.

Teams that track brand health gain a clear advantage by maintaining a close eye on the details, such as customer perceptions on overall brand, specific products, and even reactions (positive or negative) to branding imagery or messaging.

Brand architecture helps teams establish priorities.

Companies are tasked not only with differentiating themselves in the marketplace, but with maintaining clear lines of differentiation throughout their portfolio. Developing brand architecture supports our holistic approach and establishes definition across the organization, its brands, and products. The result is a clearly established product hierarchy that guides brand teams in decision-making and consumer communication.

 

Deep customer insights lead to messages that resonate at the moments that matter.

Immersing with customers contributes to defining a clear brand voice and supporting elements including design that emphasizes the brand’s strengths. Insights also identify  emotional and functional benefits to highlight.

Teams reference specific research elements to build a strong communication strategy that is consistent across their organization. Established KPIs provide reference points for testing and optimizing messages. Real Time Concept Optimization is a fast way for teams to invite target consumers to collaborate on message development, or to quickly evaluate concepts.

Leveraging qualitative and quantitative insights is an effective way to pre-test how messaging will resonate with target consumers. It’s a continuous feedback loop that ensures the brand is on point and evolving with changing preferences and attitudes.

Insights activation brings teams together to align on future growth.

Activating Brand Building research findings across the organization requires deep collaboration. We want to help teams understand the impact of the brand building research on the organization as a whole, and then focus on how each team will build strategic action plans in their discipline.

Our post-research initiatives are integral to sustaining activation efforts. Through facilitated work sessions, we educate team members on research insights to help them with strategic planning and execution. For example, learning sessions might include training on tailored simulation tools that data and finance teams can use to model various scenarios, or that product teams can reference to gauge the impact of changing product or service features.

As activation in brand work often spans the long term, we establish progress meetings and conduct pulse checks to monitor and refine the effects of activation efforts. Tracking progress over time and using monitoring tools motivates teams to stay focused on activation goals and achieve better business outcomes, ensuring sustained brand growth.

 

Do you want to explore a brand building insights program to guide your long-term growth?

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