By Stephen Given, firstname.lastname@example.org
I once did a research project for a national brand based here in Utah. This company was very successful in their business and wanted our class to find some creative insights as to how they could improve their advertising. After analyzing their commercials, website and competitors along with interviewing consumers, we came to an interesting finding: the company’s advertising lacked a central theme. Their commercials were well filmed and fun, but there was no unifying message to them. Each year the company would simply highlight a different benefit.
It is very important to know your business’ brand and brand message. This does not mean that it is something easily discovered or created. Often, businesses have to periodically rediscover their brand. Like characters in a TV show, businesses develop over time. Training and research is required to ensure that the business stays true its brand philosophy.
Customer’s perception of a business also factors into the brand. In 2009, Domino’s pizza faced a brand crisis. For years, their marketing efforts had focused on their delivery program. What they had not realized was that their pizza quality had fallen behind. People did not care about their delivery strategy if the food was not any good. Domino’s perception of their brand as a quick delivery of a savory pizza was countered by consumer’s perception of their brand as a deliverer of sub par pizza. That year, the company did a complete overhaul of their pizza and advertisements. The overhaul paid off and sales increased greatly (Extreme Makeover, Fast Food Edition).
Understanding how consumers view a brand from the outside can be extremely difficult if not impossible for businesses to do just by themselves but it is incredibly necessary for the survival of the company. Companies will often attempt to analyze this through focus groups or in depth interviews but results can be skewed by company biases and inexperience in consumer research. This is where an outside agency with ability in market research really helps. These agencies are filled with people trained to dig for the real insights that consumers often do not even realize they possess.
A company’s brand is not just how consumers view it or even how the company views itself but rather a combination of the two. In my research project, we visited the company headquarters and learned about their culture. During that visit, we came across a specific company value that their consumers shared deeply. We eventually used this value as the message the business could use to unify their marketing efforts. As outsiders looking into the company, we were able to see motivations that they did not see themselves.
Consumers do not want to do business with companies they do not understand. A company without a unifying brand does not stand out. Furthermore, a company with a brand message that does not live up to customer perceptions stands out in a bad way. Understanding your brand is critical to knowing your customer which in turn guides your marketing. Marketing cannot drive sales without this insight.
- Extreme Makeover, Fast Food Edition
- Domino’s restaurant photo by Chuck Coker on Flickr
- Employees photo by www.audio-luci-store.it on Flickr
For more helpful insights into branding your business, check out these articles.