The most common brand research mistakes

The most common brand research mistakes  by Magda Adamska / 3 March 2018

1. Choosing your research partner unwisely

A badly designed survey can lead to conclusions which are incorrect and, as a result, harmful to the business. That’s why it’s so important to only work with trusted research partners who understand your business problem and are capable of helping you solve it.
The easiest way to find potential partners is by asking your colleagues (whose judgement you can rely on) for recommendations regarding not only the research agency itself but also specific teams within it.
Certain types of research could be easily done in-house, especially if they are not complicated and require access to your customer database (e.g., Net Promoter Score study). However, the more sophisticated pieces (e.g., customer segmentation) should always be performed by a specialist research agency.
One thing is also worth mentioning in this section: it’s a bad idea altogether to expect your creative agency to conduct brand or market research on your behalf (see point 3). Unfortunately, it’s a popular practice even in the most well-known companies.

2. Messing up the research design

Although with a carefully chosen research partner, you’re more likely to avoid methodological mistakes, sometimes they still happen.
One of the most common is carrying out a qualitative study instead of a quantitative one, or the other way around. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies are not interchangeable and should be used for different purposes. If you want to understand what the majority of your target audience thinks, conduct a quantitative study. To get a deeper understanding of a problem, choose one of the qualitative techniques. Doing the opposite will lead to wrong decisions.
 Presenting the results of a qualitative study in numbers and percentages (it happens!) is a marketing crime, as is using quantitative surveys to uncover consumer insights that respondents themselves are not aware of.
Other mistakes related to bad research design include using a wrong sample (e.g., choosing a narrow segment when you need results representative of the general population), writing surveys which are longer than 12 minutes (after 10 minutes respondents can be expected to pick their answers rather randomly, just to finish the survey) or not randomizing answers.

3. Being biased

Brand and marketing research, depending on how it’s conducted, can prove almost anything, even contradicting theses. If you are serious about getting objective results, you need to be careful not to let your current knowledge, beliefs and opinions affect the design of the research study.
 One example of such a mistake is phrasing (often unconsciously) the survey questions in a way that suggests “the right” answer (e.g., “Which brand do you think is the best shampoo on the market? Brand X or brand Y?”). Another example is using a wrong scale, such as when asking about the price respondents are willing to pay for a product. You will get different answers, if you set up the scale range from 1$ to 1000$ compared with when it’s between 1$ and 100$.

4. Testing and killing creativity with research 

We have mentioned it before and will repeat it one more time: it’s your role to judge whether a creative idea is good. Research doesn’t measure creativity, it measures effectiveness. Research can help you decide how an idea contributes to your brand’s image, figure out whether the concept needs fine-tuning to be more understandable or identifiable with your brand, measure whether it builds purchase intent etc.
Some of the most prevalent mistakes made in this category include asking respondents if they like an idea (it doesn’t matter!), comparing the new logo to the old one (in 90% of cases the old one will win as people like what they know), letting focus groups choose the best creative idea. Focus groups can help you identify the weak points of ideas such as a lack of credibility or uniqueness, but if you want to see which concept is the most effective among your target audience, you should test them with quantitative research.
If you make these mistakes, you risk killing great creative concepts.

5. Making wrong decisions or not making them at all

Firms which can’t afford their own research sometimes use data and conclusions published by other companies to substantiate their own decisions. They do it without checking how the research has been conducted even though it might have been carried out and published just to create a buzz (so called PR research). Next time you read about, for example, Millennials buying only “authentic”, ethical and purpose-driven brands, and come to the conclusion that this can be a sensible strategy for your company, check the sales results of such brands first. Better still, check the sales results of brands which represent none of those things. You might be surprised.
While using someone else’s research is often a mistake made by small businesses, big corporations often do entirely the opposite. They do a lot of research, often out of habit, and then ignore it. People are so preoccupied with their jobs that they don’t have time to attend presentations of research results or read the research reports. Don’t be that marketer.

The Brand Assets

What constitutes a brand asset? Let’s cover the assets you’re likely working with for your business.

Brand Name
Your brand name is the primary identity of your company. As your other brand assets evolve, your brand name likely won’t ever change. If you haven’t trademarked your brand name, we encourage you to do so. By owning the rights to your brand name, you have better leverage over unauthorized use and any competitors who attempt to copy or steal your brand. Check out HubSpot’s trademarks and Trademark Usage Guidelines as an example. Your brand name will also likely be reflected in your website domain and social media pages. Keeping these names, identities, and handles consistent will help customers discover and follow your business.

Logo and Color Palette
Your logo and color palette embody the creative representation of your brand. These assets are important parts of your branding as they tap into emotional marketing tactics. If designed properly, they can help you attract and convert customers.
Typography. Your typography refers to your fonts and text-based assets and how they’re used in your branding. These guidelines inform any branding or marketing asset that’s designed on behalf of your business, including your website, paid advertising, social media posts, and more — all the way down to the spacing between the letters.

Your graphics include many different brand assets — basically anything specifically designed for your brand or marketing. These could be used on your digital marketing channels (which we’ll discuss next) or developed as standalone assets, such as external slide decks, letterheads, press releases, or even marketing videos. Your brand graphics will likely be utilized by a wide variety of people (from designers to social media marketers to content writers), so they should be well-organized and have clear instructions on how to use them.

Digital Marketing Channels
Your website, social media, and paid advertising are a few of the most important iterations of your brand. Millions of people access the internet daily, and your digital channels are likely the branding assets the most viewed by potential customers. For this reason, they must reflect your branding, and they must be consistent. Also included in this section is your employees’ and executives’ social media accounts, as these are a reflection of your brand and a fantastic marketing opportunity to give your audience an inside look at your company and the opportunity to conne

The Principles of Brand Management

Principles of Brand Management
Brand management is comprised of both tangible and intangible components. We’ll discuss the tangibles in the following section. The intangible components, however, include the principles that help you measure your brand management efforts and achieve those brand management success indicators that we discussed above. You’ll also note that each of these principles can influence the others on this list. For example, heightened brand awareness can contribute to brand reputation, and increased brand loyalty can affect brand equity.
Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is how familiar the general public and your target audience is with your brand. Brand awareness is important because consumers can’t engage with or purchase products or services from your brand if they’re not aware of it.
Brand Equity
Brand equity is how consumers value your brand based on their experiences, perceptions, and associations. (This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand valuation, which is the commercial value of your brand as perceived by the market.) Brand equity is important because a valuable brand can support higher prices and increase your merit among investors, shareholders, and potential buyers.
Brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty refers to how consistently your customers and followers engage with and purchase from your brand. While your marketing can’t necessarily influence this, your customer service department can — focusing on satisfaction and relationship-building can bring customers back time and time again. Brand loyalty is important because it creates brand ambassadors who do your marketing for you.
Brand Recognition
Brand recognition is how well a consumer, ideally in your target audience, can recognize your brand — through your logo, tagline, packaging, etc. — without seeing your brand name. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand recall, which is the ability to think of a brand without seeing or hearing any branding prompts. Brand recognition is important because, by recognizing and recalling your brand, consumers keep your brand top-of-mind and are more likely to choose your brand above the competition.
Brand Reputation
Brand reputation refers to how the general public and your target audience perceive the character, status, and quality of your brand. Your reputation can be influenced by internal factors (customer service, product quality, etc.) and external factors (customer reviews, WOM marketing, news mentions, etc.). Brand reputation is important because it can be some consumers’ first impression of your brand.