Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery - Part 3

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Posted Feb 10, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Using Market Research to Define Brand Imagery

Do you know the brand imagery elements that your consumers feel emotionally connected to? Are there specific visual elements of your brand that are particularly important to them? If you don't know the brand imagery that consumers associate with your brand and feel connected to, then you need to conduct market research to find out. And if you do understand your customers' brand imagery hot buttons, you need to conduct ongoing research to ensure they're preferences and feelings haven't evolved. That's the focus of Part 3 of the Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery series.

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the series, follow the preceding links to read them now so you understand how brand imagery differs from brand image and how brand imagery affects brand equity. Now, it's time to identify the brand imagery elements that matter to your customers, so you can cultivate them and use them to create additional branded experiences to further connect your brand with your audience.

Companies don't always understand how important brand imagery is to consumers, and they don't take the time to research what matters to those consumers. If they did, then a company like Tropicana wouldn't have made the mistake it made with its package redesign discussed in Part 2 of this series.

Consumer Perceptions and Brand Imagery

Learning how consumers feel about your brand and the brand imagery that affects them personally isn't always as simple as asking, "How do you feel about our brand's packaging?" In fact, such a question is highly unlikely to give you the insight you need to understand the brand imagery that matters to consumers.

Market researchers use probing questions to gain a deeper level of insight about brand imagery. For example, using anecdotes, brand personification, and brand analogies, you can learn more about how people perceive a brand through imagery. Asking them to rate reactions to visual and auditory elements or to match descriptive words with brand elements can help to highlight idiosyncrasies as well as consistencies. These findings highlight the types of gaps you need to find and fill as well as the opportunities you can exploit.

A popular exercise is to ask consumers to describe the brand using an analogy such as, "What if the brand were a car?" Some researchers prefer to personify the brand by asking consumers to describe the brand as if it were a person. How would it act? How would it look? How would it dress? All of these types of question help to identify the type of imagery that consumers associate with the brand without directly asking them a question like, "What do you think of our packaging?"

It's also effective to ask consumers to rank brand imagery elements in order of personal importance. You might be surprised what consumers put at the top of the list.

Researching Experiences

Simply researching existing brand elements isn't enough. You also need to delve into consumer experiences with the brand. In Part 1 of this series, I shared a story about how I have associated a specific scent with Walt Disney World since childhood. My sister would tell the same story. I'd imagine we're not the only people who associate a scent with Walt Disney World or another branded experience. This is the type of brand imagery that a company wouldn't be able to uncover through the typical research questions discussed in the previous section.

Instead, you need to dive deeper and ask questions that uncover consumer memories with the brand. These memories could include family stories, humorous experiences, negative experiences, usage rituals, taste associations, smell associations, sound associations, and so on. Asking consumers to share brand stories can reveal a wealth of details related to brand imagery that you might not learn otherwise.

By pairing the insight you gather from these stories with the data you gather from questions about how consumers feel about specific components of your existing brand imagery, you'll be on your way to developing an effective strategy to build your brand image through brand imagery.

If you missed previous parts of the Developing Brand Image Through Brand Imagery series, follow the links below to read them now:

Create a new market research study right now on our Target Market page to test your concept(s) or schedule a 30 min. demo with an AYTM expert today!

Images: stock.xchng

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