Market research is arguably the most effective practice available to you if you’re looking to refine and expand your brand. While you may be able to get a long way with intuition and creativity, market research is what tells you definitively what will and will not work. It lays out a reliable path for greater brand success.
This is something a lot of people in business understand fairly well. But fewer people have a clear idea as to how to make use of market research for brand-building purposes. This is what we’ll address below.
If you haven’t actually started your business or established your brand yet, it’s a good idea to start conducting market research before you ever do so. This is essentially a means of establishing whether or not your brand concept actually has the value you want it to have. As The Startup’s guide to startup business plans put it, you need to “validate your startup idea” before you actually try to produce said startup. And market research can be one of the most efficient and effective ways to do it.
As an example of how this can work, consider a startup idea revolving around smart irrigation for the agriculture industry. This is a huge industry in Ohio, where EMI Research Solutions is based, and that may even be the foundation for an idea like this in the first place. You recognize an active industry and come up with a business concept that matches said industry. But your research can explore that relationship on a deeper level. Is there a need for smart irrigation within the state’s agriculture sector? Is there evidence that Ohio farmers trust emerging smart technologies? Is there already a company doing what you’d like to do? Can you find specific problems to solve or savings to promise with your function? These are all questions you can answer at least in part through market research, and which will ultimately help to shape your brand’s purpose and presentation.
When you’re still brainstorming your brand, it’s easy to think of a name as something of a placeholder, or something you can tweak later on (you know, like The Facebook becoming Facebook). But when it comes time to turn your brand into a company, you’ll actually need to provide a name to make it official. ZenBusiness’s post on registering Ohio LLCs lists naming the company as the first step required in the official process, and this is actually the same in most states. So, at some point fairly early on, you’ll actually need to “brand” your business in an official sense.
This means that another aspect of your market research needs to revolve around the name. On the most basic level, this means searching far and wide to make sure no comparable company has a particularly similar name. However, it can also mean conducting surveys to see how people respond to different names, or what types of products and services might come to mind when they hear the name. The insights you gather from this kind of research can help you land on the perfect brand name.
As you’re just getting started, a significant portion of your market research should also revolve around analysis of your competitors-to-be. Identifying those competitors ought to be easy enough to begin with, but from there you’ll want to conduct a fairly thorough overview of what those brands are offering, how well they’re performing (as far as you can tell), where they’re advertising, and so on.
This bit can seem somewhat haphazard, given how much data you can ultimately gather checking in on multiple competitors at once. But that simply means you need to be organized in your analysis. Our post explaining ‘Visual Presentation and its Impact on Respondent Experience and Data’ dug into how this can work by an arrangement as simple as a grid of columns and rows. Break your findings down in this fashion and you can turn it into a clear vision of where your competitors stand — which in turn will give you an idea of how your brand can best succeed among them.
When we think of brand reputation, it’s inevitably the big, wealthy brands that come to mind. This is simply because they’re readily visible, to the extent that market research almost isn’t necessary. Look through Cleveland.com’s report on the 23 different billion-dollar brands in Ohio, for instance, and you’ll see major names like Macy’s, Sherwin-Williams, Victoria’s Secret, and Folgers Coffee — all companies you likely have some impression of. But a newer brand like your own doesn’t produce this kind of reputation immediately. You’ll need to do some work to figure out what consumers think of you.
That work can take different forms. You might conduct surveys, browse through your on-site and/or social media feedback, or even roll out a more comprehensive social listening operation. But the ultimate goal should be to determine how your brand is being perceived, and what is driving that perception. Through these insights you can adjust accordingly, and ultimately find more success.
All of this adds up to a significant and prolonged effort. But the benefits of good market research make this effort well worth it. Effective market research can help your brand reach the heights you envision for it.