Sunday, April 17, 2016

Testing Outside of Boundaries

We conduct a lot of brand research on behalf of our clients - a mix of qualitative and quantitative. We usually try to "push the envelope" in what we explore to make sure we have not missed a brand positioning opportunity, a brand extension opportunity or any other opportunity.

Often, clients are not comfortable with this approach. We get responses such as, "We would never do that." or "Why would you test that? That is not 'on brand.'" Others ask why we are testing negative personality attributes. Some say, "Don't test that. That position is already taken by one of our competitors." Sometimes we hear, "I don't know why that is relevant." or "Why don't you focus on something more tangible." Some brand managers are much more comfortable testing functions and features than emotional, experiential and self-expressive states.

Frankly, a lot of brand managers are solidly "in the box." They will never create a breakthrough brand position or a new product concept if they are not willing to test outside of what they already know the brand's (or product's) boundaries to be. One needs to test outside of boundaries to understand if those are the true boundaries or if the boundaries can be stretched. As it has been said, "To push the boundaries, you need to know where the edges are." And to create "category of one" brands, it is mandatory that one tests outside of the current category definition.

While I agree that one should not waste time or money testing things that are irrelevant and tangential to the brand's success, sometimes it is just those things that seem tangential that result in the true breakthroughs. So, before you reign your brand consultant or brand researcher in, consider that he or she may just be on to something by testing outside of your comfort zone. 

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