Fifteen Basics of “Brand Smart” Research
This past week the American Marketing Association in Chicago held its 2011 annual BrandSmart conference, bringing together top-level marketers from companies such as Groupon, Motorola, Allscripts, Cars.com, Deloitte, Coldwell Banker, Accenture, Hospira, Walgreens, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Grainger, Morningstar, and many others, all of whom shared the newest strategies and case studies for brand building and successful marketing.
As director of the market research group within the AMA I was surprised that many of my research colleagues at other firms did not attend ostensibly because there were no sessions devoted specifically to brand research. It was surprising because the other marketing professionals who were attending never doubted for a moment the essential role of research in effective brand marketing. Indeed, important lessons about the role of research permeated every presentation.
Out of 36 Branding Basics outlined in the conference program, fifteen were clearly about research even though none actually used the word research. These specific Branding Basics were:
- Understand the totality of your brand image
- Understand the likes and dislikes of the customer
- Understand the associations people draw from your brand
- Understand what your product stands for with the customer
- Understand the real desire of your customer
- Understand the value of the customer
- Study why a customer buys your product
- Assess if your brand appeals to customers
- Understand as a user the imagery of your brand
- What does your brand personify?
- Understand the customer’s perception of price
- Understand the value created for the customer
- Identify the correct vision and relevant message
- Understand how the brand compares to its competitors
- Measure brand equity
In fact, one thing I appreciate about this list is that the word research never appears. The focus is on understanding (the word from which Versta Research derives its name) and on answering questions. In our experience, when marketers are focused on the questions they need to have answered rather than saying “We need research on X” or “We need to survey our customers about Y,” the research outcomes are far more useful.
Market researchers should be immersing themselves in conversations like yesterday’s BrandSmart conference. While we need to build deep expertise in the methods, minutia, innovations and trends in research itself, we also need deep immersion in the world of marketing. This is how and where our research will get used, and it will ensure that we’re doing smart research to help our clients be Brand Smart.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.