Brand Research Fundamentals: Part 2 - Brand Creation

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Posted Sep 14, 2011
Susan Gunelius

In Part 1 of the Brand Research Fundamentals series, you learned about brand development and strategic planning research. Now, it’s time to learn about the brand research you should be doing during the brand creation process when you define your brand’s position and develop tangible brand identity elements to represent your brand.
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brand research

Brand Positioning

Once you understand the market where your brand will compete and the segments of consumers who shop in that market, it’s time to define how your brand will be positioned against competitor brands to meet consumer needs and increase sales and to determine what your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, and specific benefits are. Keep in mind, benefits can be emotional, too, which will be discussed in Part 6 of the Brand Research Fundamentals series.

Go back to that unique value proposition and the brand differentiators that you defined during the brand development stage of your brand research (discussed in Part 1 of this series). Use that information to determine what your brand promise to consumers is, and test that brand promise through research to ensure it elicits the response you need from consumers. Your brand promise needs to appeal to them, solve their problems or address their hot buttons, and differentiate your brand from others that consumers can easily choose from. In other words, what does your brand promise that is better than or different from other brands?

Use your segmentation research data to ensure your brand is positioned correctly to meet the expectations and needs of diverse consumers. Through ongoing research take note of when it does not, so you can tweak your brand messaging and create brand promotions as effectively as possible in the future.

Think of it this way: people of all ages own iPods, but they’re marketed very differently to 40-year olds than they are to 14-year olds. The brand name is the same but through advertising messaging and placement, Apple promises different things to different audiences because segments of its audience use the iPod differently as the image below shows.

ipod podcast vs music

The product’s ultimate use stays the same -- listening to music or audio content -- but the reasons why those audiences listen to music and audio content on their iPods are not exactly the same and how they listen to audio content is different, too (e.g., listening to podcasts with an iPod in the car during the daily commute or listening to music on an iPod in a back pocket while waiting for the school bus). Chances are your brand’s audience will be made up of segments that want to hear different things from your brand, too.

Your goal at this point is to define your brand’s persona, to determine which brand owns which attribute in the market, and to define what one word your brand will own in consumers’ minds.

Brand Identity

After you’ve defined your brand’s promise and position, you can create the tangible elements of your brand identity such as your brand name, logo, color palette, messaging, and other imagery. Your brand elements are the visual, auditory, and olfactory representations of your brand promise and persona. They need to match your brand promise and persona as well as consumers’ expectations for your brand.

That’s where brand research becomes a critical component of your brand’s success. Not only do you need to understand what consumers want, need, and expect from brands in your market, but you also need to understand what imagery, colors, and messages are appropriate and compelling for your brand based on its promise to consumers and their existing perceptions of the market. Read my recent article and research results about the Marathon Oil Corporation logo for a good example of why brand identity research is so important.

Ask probing questions to understand what types of words and phrases are well-received and which are not. Learn what the audiences’ preconceptions are and determine what they are willing to believe about your brand. You need to test brand names, logo designs, and messaging during the brand research stage, too. The financial investment to launch a brand correctly is a big one, and it’s not something you want to have to redo because you didn’t perform research beforehand to ensure that your brand would be accepted by consumers.

Finally, don’t forget to analyze your brand identity research by audience segment (segmentation research is discussed in Part 1 of the Brand Research Fundamentals series). While it’s usually necessary to create a single logo and brand name, there are times when distinct messaging or color palettes are necessary and worth the added expense in order to better connect with valuable niche audiences. This is often the case with brands that extend into new global markets where translation and trademark issues arise.

The more information you can gather in the early stage of brand development and creation the better chance you have to position your brand for success. Don’t cut corners now or you’ll feel the negative effects of your limited thinking and approach later.

If you missed Part 1 of the Brand Research Fundamentals series, follow the link to learn about brand development and strategic planning research, and be sure to watch for Part 3 - Promoting the Brand, which will be published soon on AYTM.

Images: 1, 2, 3

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