Digging into brand facts, stats, data and digits
Free Encyclopedia Britannica
Research used to involve a great deal of licking one’s thumb and flicking pages, or for the more innovative, the no-lick rubber thumb. An inherited, stately set of Encyclopedia Britannica sits packed in our founder’s basement—likely never to ignite an inquisitive mind ever again.
Thankfully, apart from the sheer, impressive mass of it all, research is far more efficient, current and paper-cut-free these days.
This applies to all research, but for our purposes, it’s about fully understanding your brand’s DNA, your audiences’ tendencies and triggers, and your competition’s character.
Maybe Mad Men
With Marlboros blazing and whiskey sours draining, we win a client biz, and launch directly into the sexy, irreverent and wild creative. Followed by our immediate dismissal. Maybe on Mad Men… as seen only on TV.
Only by understanding the realities of self, the facts of the market, and the traits of the customer can we confidently create brand-appropriate, kick-ass creative.
By investigating the details and unknowns upfront, we receive an education that will serve us well in everything brand-related to come.
And the truth is, often our client is learning and realizing things about themselves and their market they never considered. Details and data about their competition, their ideal customer, the consistent hidden miscues, and more, that they simply took for granted.
Research in two stylish varieties
Essentially there is qualitative research and quantitative research.
There’s important value to both, but qualitative research is our sweet spot. Branding lives on the emotional spectrum. It’s subjective, open to interpretation, and more art than science. By understanding the emotional side of your business, your brand and your buyers, you create strength and boldness in your external and internal messaging.
Good qualitative discovery uncovers the SWOT of a brand—Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. All of which contribute to the development of truly effective marketing.
We look closely at perceptions and feelings for both the external and the internal audiences. Your internal stakeholders, employees, management and others are an incredibly critical audience that must be addressed. This segment is often left out of the equation and that leads to nothing good or profitable.
We don’t ignore the quantitative by any means. Gleaning intel from sources like Google, AdWords, SEO experts, buying trends and consumer numbers simply adds to the mix of a robust brand foundation.
Sure, data is dry, but it can be very thrilling to discover insights and opportunities via such thorough research. We also recognize that sometimes the budget accommodates a less extensive research phase—it still remains invaluable.
The 5 essentials:
We talk to people on our client’s team, their clients and/or partners and vendors to expand the perceptive. We connect with customers and prospective customers. In this phase many shiny golden nuggets are mined by way of honest reactions and intuitive responses.
Not quite as effective as interviews. But when time, budget and numbers restrain us, it’s a great alternative. Anonymity is an option. Writing sometimes evokes a more thoughtful and worked out responses. A survey that can be distributed to a wider pool yields a more accurate map of the landscape.
- Market trend research
This is an aspect where we collaborate closely with a trusted partner. Where’s the money? How is the market shifting, evolving and reacting? This falls into the somewhat more quantitative. It adds validation and demographic analysis. Market trend research is very helpful in uncovering blind spots by knowing what your potential customer is into, watching, doing and buying.
4/5. Visual + Verbal research
The knowledge we discover through our qualitative research drives the look, style and feel of the creative. We are able to make it true to your brand vs being another version of everyone else. By surveying competitor’s type choices, colors, photo style, graphic approach and tone of voice, we are able to find our advantage.
Bonus point: When developing your verbal and copy style, and especially if you do international business, consider the translation of your messaging. Nothing worse than insulting a culture’s ancestors with your otherwise snappy tagline.
Purpose and Validation
Solid and proven research builds confidence, motivation and a deep-rooted strategy. It can also expose unknown weakness and problems; just as easily as it can turn up unseen opportunities and advantages. We can avoid targeting the wrong audience, and creating solutions for problems that don’t exist. Smart research once again puts purpose over preference. We get out of subjective and into the objective.
Without any sort of reasonable research your branding will lack confidence, external traction and internal buy-in. And the dreaded ROI numbers will suffer—maximize the upside.
While we make brands look and sound amazing, and sometimes even pretty—the point is to make brands meaningful.
And spread the word: Encyclopedia Britannica, circa 1970—you call and you haul.
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We tell, and we show. See work examples at sussner.com/work
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