Developing a brand strategy nowadays requires a lot more consideration than in the past. There are so many more opportunities for consumers and brands to interact, and that means there are so many more dots to connect in your brand’s message. In order to create a coherent brand experience, your company must develop a unified approach to the various touch points through which consumers interact with brands. So the best way to ensure that your customers understand the confident, authentic story that is your brand is to integrate consistent messaging across your brand’s various platforms for positioning.
Start and End with Your Audience
The path to a unified brand experience begins exactly where it ends: with your target audience. This is who you want your brand to impact, so it’s crucial to understand the best way to do so. Since unprecedented accessibility to companies comes with a hefty dose of skepticism and high expectations, it’s crucial to develop a more intimate connection with consumers. Once you understand your audience, you will understand your mission, and be able to translate that knowledge into better products, services, and strategy. And after all, they are ones who ultimately determine the efficacy of your brand strategy.
So how do you gain further insight into your target audience and the channels through which they interact with your brand? Below are a few useful quantitative and qualitative research methodologies that can help you build a more complete brand experience.
1. Figure Out Where You’re At
A strong brand is a strong story, so one of your first moves should be understanding where in that story your business currently is. Are you still differentiating yourselves from the competition, or are you defending your top spot in a category? Sometimes these answers are obvious, but what if you’re breaking into a new market, or targeting an unfamiliar segment? Knowing how much of your story has been told—as well as who has heard it—is crucial to figuring out what is left to tell and how best to tell it.
2. Ask Your Audience
Even if your team feels confident in your brand’s story arc, it’s always helpful to validate your hypotheses, as well as probe for opportunities to improve and/or expand. As we learned in our search for the brand loyalty unicorn, customers are paying attention at every step of an interaction with a company, and the impressions they’re left with matter in building loyalty and equity over time. Clarifying through consumer insights which expectations, perceptions, and motivations they associate with your brand will help ensure you remain on the right track throughout your branding process and beyond.
3. Define Your Creative Platform
Every interaction is a chance to optimize your connection with the consumer, so it’s important to build a far-reaching, authentic, and accessible creative platform. While there are a number of ingredients that go into crafting great creative, once you’ve complete the research and developed an insightful brand message for your customers, the next step is to develop your creative platform. This is the unifying, underlying theme that characterizes your interactions: the idea that sparks engagement and translates your message in a way that is relevant to your audience. Solidifying your creative platform will help your brand experience feel comprehensive, but it’s up to you to apply to all appropriate channels and mediums.
4. Test, Test, and Test Again
Once you have achieved the comprehensive brand experience that you are looking for, you must continually ensure that it remains compelling, relevant, and engaging. Creative testing can make use of both qualitative and quantitative research. When considering a new channel or tweaking a well-known brand characteristic, qualitative research can provide an in-depth understanding needed to provide confidence in an exploratory direction. While in execution stages, quantitative research can provide the rigorous validation needed to calculate market performance and ensure a brand fit. No matter what stage of creative branding you find yourself in, there’s always a time for insightful research that can optimize and refine your message and positioning.
Crafting a holistic brand experience requires keeping track of various interactions, perceptions, and creative ideas. But taking the time to research your brand’s image and adapt the entirety of your creative ecosystem accordingly will help your business’s story resonate with the right audience in the right way at the right time. To learn more about how a small team at Suja used qualitative research to gain an understanding about consumer perceptions toward their product’s labeling, including the creative elements it comprised, take a look at this case study.