What Research Can Never Reveal

September 23, 2016

by Lance Parman

Where exactly does a brand come from? If one is going to set about discovering and defining their company's brand, where should he begin? Far too often I see businesses start with market research.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm a huge advocate for market research. Every single piece of information we can get our hands on to better understand the customer is worth its weight in gold. And—thanks to the magnetic band on our credit cards—consumer data is being gathered more profusely than ever before. Any salesperson will agree, the more you know about the person you are selling to, the better your chances of success. Advertising is no different.

The problem is the misuse of research. Companies are using research to guide almost every decision they make, even brand development. Your brand is the definition of who you are as an organization. If that definition is based on consumer demands, market trends, and every-changing indicators, it won't hold up. The result is a brand claim that may resonate with your customers on some level, but is largely untrue. It is not an accurate, honest representation of your organization.

Let us imagine we are teenagers on a journey of self-discovery (as painful as that thought may be). We enter the high school cafeteria (a.k.a. the marketplace). We see the popular group everyone idolizes. We want that for ourselves, so we dress like them, talk like them, and imitate their every move. See where this is going? Following never leads to leadership. We are no closer to closer to figure out who we are, rather we are embracing someone else's persona. Finding our own individuality is a process of uncovering the talents, experiences, and beliefs that make us unique. When we understand and appreciate that no one else has the exact combination we posses, we are able to embrace our individuality. Our brand, if you will.

In the same way, your company's brand is what makes you unique among your competitors. Market research can provide valuable insight. It can help you communicate your unique brand in a more relevant way to customers. But it can never reveal your company's brand identity.

Research is valuable, but using it to define your company's brand is nothing more than copying someone else's homework. You may get a few answers right, but you'll get caught in the end.

If you’d like to talk with Gazillion & One about making the most of your marketing efforts, contact us online or call (616) 842-7000 to get the conversation started.

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