Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brand Research -- Brand Management

Brand management cannot succeed without research.

Brand Creation -- Research uncovers the underlying customer values, attitudes, needs, motivations and perceptions that lead to a brand's positioning. It identifies competitors' strengths and weaknesses, helping you further differentiate your brand from the competition, and perhaps even allowing you to reposition their brands to your brand's advantage. Research can help you identify the most powerful brand identity configuration, one that delivers the highest recognition and recall and the most positive associations. It can help you choose the advertising execution that best meets your brand's objectives. Research will help you determine the most advantageous pricing strategy for your brand. It can also help you determine the optimal mix of product/service attributes that deliver the greatest customer value for the least cost.

Brand Management -- Ongoing brand equity monitoring can help you identify ways to strengthen your brand's equity and customer's loyalty to the brand. It can also help you identify when the brand might need to be repositioned to remain vital. A wide variety of brand equity components should be monitored in this process -- from awareness, relevance, differentiation, value and accessibility to emotional connection, vitality, preference, personality and other key associations.

Brand Growth -- Research significantly increases the probability of success when entering new geographic markets with a brand. And research is essential in maximizing the likelihood of success when extending the brand into new product and service categories. In summary, research is essential to your brand's success as you create, manage and grow it.

I will devote the next several blog posts to the effective use of research in each step of the brand management process. This will include a discussion of the different research methodologies available and the most important considerations when using them.

In this blog post, I will focus on research that can help with brand management.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This is especially true of a brand and its equity. A robust brand equity measurement system will accomplish the following objectives:

  • Measure the brand’s equity across a variety of dimensions at different points in time over time
  • Provide diagnostic information on the reasons for the changes in brand equity
  • Gauge and evaluate the brand’s progress against goals
  • Provide direction on how to improve brand equity
  • Provide insight into the brand’s positioning vis-à-vis its major competitors including its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Provide direction on how to reposition the brand for maximum effect

BrandForward has identified that the following five attributes drive customers to insist upon specific brands: awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility and emotional connection.

These brand insistence drivers work together to move customers from being aware of your brand and preferring your brand to purchasing your brand and being loyal to your brand. The next chart shows how this works

We recommend that brand equity measurement studies:

  • Focus on the key drivers of customer brand insistence
  • Measure changes in brand equity over time
  • Diagnose reasons for changes in brand equity
  • Provide insight into the current brand positioning, including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Provide direction on how to increase customer brand insistence

Brand equity studies should measure the following for your brand and each of its competitors, with responses reported separately for different user segments:

  • Awareness
  • Convenience/accessibility
  • Perceived value (including quality and price sensitivity)
  • Rank in consideration set
  • Preference
  • Usage
  • Relevance
  • Differentiation
  • Vitality
  • Emotional connection
  • Loyalty
  • Multiple personality attributes and
  • Other brand associations.

Another Unusual Advertising Medium

Are you looking for a way to make some extra money while promoting your favorite brand(s)? Advertisers, are you looking for new advertising media? Consider Human Billboard advertising. Go to and select from permanent or temporary tattoos to one of many other types of human billboard activity. Rates will vary based upon how much exposure you receive and in which markets. Just when you think that advertisers are running out of new media, you are proven otherwise.

Social Networking and Consumer Power

The emergence of social networking on the Internet (MySpace, LinkedIn, facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.) has led to new brand building opportunities and perils. While brands can take advantage of these networks to promote themselves (see the iPod video at YouTube --, these same networks have given individuals increased power to make their own positive and negative statements about brands. For instance, view what a disgruntled Comcast customer communicated about Comcast on YouTube -- Brand marketers would do well to constantly monitor these social networks for references to their brands. At a minimum, they would learn allot about how customers perceive and use their brands. If they are fortunate, they may also be able to address/diffuse potentially disastrous references to their brands before they become ‘viral.’