Building a Brand into an Icon - Part 3

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Posted Feb 29, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Building an Iconic Brand Through Market Research

Building a brand into an icon takes time, and market research can help you gather the information you need to do it successfully. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the Building a Brand into an Icon series, follow the links to learn what an iconic brand is and how to develop an iconic brand. Now, it's time to learn how to collect information related to consumer opinions, feelings, needs, and wants so you can develop the right brand persona.

volkswagen beetle iconic brand

How can you build a brand into an icon if you don't know what your customers want and need? How do they identify themselves and what brand persona do you need to develop in order for them to self-identify with your brand?

If they can't identify with your brand, they won't become emotionally involved with it. And if no one can become emotionally involved in your brand, there is no chance for it to become a brand experienced and shared by a sub-culture of society. In other words, it has no chance to become an icon.

Identifying Customers and What They Want and Need

Your first research step is identifying your customer segments and learning what they want and need from the market. This is a fundamental step of market research for product development and brand building. Without it, you're embarking on a long journey without a map. How can your brand become what people need if you don't know what they need?

Therefore, you should conduct opinion surveys of existing customers as well as the broader consumer audience to find opportunities to connect with them. With this knowledge in hand, you can begin to develop a brand persona.

However, a brand persona is only a small part of building a brand into an icon. As you learned in Part 2 of this series, you also need to create emotional involvement in your brand. That means you need to conduct research to identify the emotions that most affect your consumer audience. This is where your research gets a bit more interesting.

You need to ask probing questions and use analogies, storytelling, and ranking questions to gather deep insight into the feelings that motivate consumers to make purchases in your market. If Apple could create emotional involvement in the computer market and Google could do it in the web search market, it can be done in just about any market! You just need to figure out which emotions to target, so you can develop marketing messages that exploit a perceived emotional connection between consumers and your brand. Learn more about emotional branding research here.

budweiser flag can

For example, Budweiser is an iconic brand. It's not the best beer, but over the years, Budweiser has effectively developed a perceived emotional connection to its brand by evoking feelings of patriotism in consumers. This is the American beer. On the other hand, Coors is an identity brand. It's the "not Bud" brand. Consumers identify with it as such, but they're not as emotionally involved as the sub-culture of Bud drinkers are in the Budweiser brand.

Again, some categories are innately easier to build consumer emotional involvement in brands, but it can be done in low-involvement categories, too. First, you need to gather the market and consumer intelligence necessary to develop the right brand persona and the right messages to open the doors for perceived emotional involvement. As with all aspects of brand building, it takes patience, persistence, and restraint.

If you missed earlier parts of the Building a Brand into an Icon series, follow the links below to read them now:

Images: Flickr, Budweiser

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