Monday, August 22, 2016

Brand Research

On occasion, I run into people who are confused about the different types of research that can be conducted on behalf of brands. Frequently, people confuse brand tracking studies with brand equity research and sometimes they confuse brand valuation methodologies with brand equity research. Here is a brief description of each type of research:

  • Brand tracking studies: These are repeatable studies that are conducted annually or even more frequently. Some companies run them on a continuous basis. Their purpose is to measure the brand's health against key metrics over time to see if the brand is improving, remaining stable or in decline. Typical measures include awareness, preference or favorability, market share, share of requirements and the brand's net promoter score (an attitudinal loyalty measure). Sometimes the studies include other measures such as brand personalty attributes. These studies tend to be high level and not very diagnostic. 
  • Brand equity research: This research is designed to measure all aspects of a brand's equity. Our BrandInsistence(SM) brand equity measurement system measures more than ninety different components of a brand's equity. Its primary focus is on the five drivers of customer brand insistence - awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility and emotional connection. These systems indicate overall brand health, but also should be diagnostic in that they should be able to pinpoint the components that are helping the brand and those that are working against the brand. This allows the brand manager to take the appropriate corrective action. Our brand equity measurement system also maps the brand's positioning against that of its competitors to identify brand positioning opportunities and vulnerabilities. Brand equity research can be repeated every year or every other year to measure progress against key goals and actions.
  • Brand positioning research: This research indicates how the brand is perceived in the customer's mind. It consists of scaled questions that can be mapped (benefit importance versus brand delivery) and open-ended questions (What makes this brand different from or superior to other brands in this category?) While this is often conducted as a separate study, we include this research in our BrandInsistence(SM) brand equity research. 
  • Brand valuation methodologies: Some brand managers feel the need to measure the value of their brands as assets. A handful of firms conduct this type of valuation. It is mostly conducted as a "black box" exercise. The outcome is a number - the value of the brand as a financial asset. These numbers can be quite large, especially for top brands whose values can be in the tens of billions of dollars.
  • Brand asset mapping: In this research, brand associations are identified along with the relative strength of their link to the brand. Product, usage, personality and a variety of other associations are explored. This is primarily used to identify brand extension opportunities. 
  • Brand emotional response mapping: Brands tend to evoke specific emotions. In this research,  a brand is tested against hundreds of different emotions and feelings to provide a map of the brand's emotional signature. 
  • Brand positioning statement research: In this research, we explore customer feedback regarding the brand positioning statement created by the marketer. Usually, several brand positioning statements are explored simultaneously. Each statement is tested against appeal/purchase intent, uniqueness and believability. We also ask for feedback on what people like and don't like about the brand positioning statement. This research is used to choose, refine and validate brand positioning statements. 
  • Brand identity research: There are several different types of brand identity research. Each one tests one or more of the following: congruence with brand positioning and promise, key brand associations, reinforcement of specific personality attributes and other qualities, preference/ranking, recognition, recall and emotional response. 
  • Brand name research: This research tests different brand names against the following criteria: preference/favorability, ranking (among other options), associations (especially to identify unintended associations), clarity and congruence with the brand's promise.
  • Brand tagline research: This research tests different brand taglines against the following criteria: preference/favorability, associations (especially to identify unintended associations), clarity, congruence with the brand's promise and likes and dislikes. 

I will stop here. I haven't begun to explain brand advertising research, which I will reserve for another blog post. 

For more information on brand research, read Brand Aid, second edition available here

PS - For you non-biology majors, the image is of a dissection kit. These research approaches are used to dissect and study brands.

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