brand research

BrandMatters’ Director of Brand Strategy, Kylie McNamara reflects on the success of the Vero SME Insurance Index in driving a market-leading position for Vero Australia.

So much can change in ten years. In an industry renowned for embracing the latest big thing, the last decade has felt particularly frenetic for marketers, dominated by trends as diverse as purpose-led marketing, big data, and Snapchat / TikTok / Clubhouse / whatever else is new this week. 

In this ever-changing context, celebrating a decade of anything feels rare. So, at BrandMatters we are very excited and proud this week to mark the launch of the 10th edition of the Vero SME Insurance Index.

Vero, part of the Suncorp Group, is a leading, specialist commercial insurer available solely through insurance brokers and agents. Vero’s brand challenge ten years ago was to engage with their broking audience in a way that demonstrated their support for brokers and lifted their marketing communications above the transactional – a classic B2B marketing conundrum.

And thus, the Vero SME Insurance Index was born. The idea was to conduct a piece of research to help brokers and brokerages understand their SME target audience, and to share insights to help brokers better service this important group of clients. It was, in essence, a classic piece of content marketing before the term had become widely used.

The first Index, which launched in 2012, was based on a simple telephone survey with 600 SMEs. Since that first year, the Index has evolved to become an anticipated yearly event on the insurance broking calendar. At its core is an annual online survey of 1500 respondents, brought to life through a series of reports, webinars, and panels, and enriched through a series of filmed qualitative interviews to tell the stories of real SMEs. Most gratifyingly, the Index is a core brand asset for Vero which continues to support and enhance Vero’s brand positioning and cement its reputation as a thought leader and an expert.

BrandMatters is proud to have been deeply involved with the Vero SME Insurance Index from its inception. We joke that it is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – as soon as we finish one year’s Index we start working on the next!

From conducting the research, to distilling the key insights, shaping them into a digestible story, and presenting them in a range of compelling mediums, it’s a big job, but always exciting and insightful.

Upon reaching this 10-year milestone, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some key things that we’ve learnt over the last decade.

THERE ARE ALWAYS NEW INSIGHTS TO UNCOVER

Over the years, we’ve feared that the findings would show nothing has changed – but that fear is unfounded. Each and every year, we learn something new.  While this fear hasn’t come to fruition, it has made us focus on asking new questions, finding new relevant topics and following broader market changes to make sure we always have a source of new insight. Each year we devote around 25% of the questionnaire to new topics, and this has enabled us to simultaneously track core trends while uncovering new findings. The feedback and questions we’ve received from the broker audience have been invaluable in helping us to understand what topics are most interesting and relevant.

STORIES CAN DEVELOP OVER YEARS OF RESEARCH

Often a new finding will raise more questions, and one of the advantages of a yearly study is that we can create new questions each year to follow up findings from the previous year. For example, one year we discovered that a large number of SMEs were using a mix of channels to buy their insurance – some policies direct and others through a broker. The next year we were then able to delve deeper by asking which policies they bought direct and why. Through this we learnt that while many would like to buy all their insurance through a broker, sometimes it was easier to buy direct, meaning that brokers have an opportunity to win a greater share of their clients’ insurance business.

QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE RESEARCH MAKE FOR A MAGICAL COMBINATION

Quantitative data is powerful because it is measurable and accountable. But as much as we love it, charts on their own can be less engaging and memorable than human stories. Each year, for that reason, we film qualitative interviews with Australian SMEs talking about some of the big topics that we’ve uncovered. These interviews are always revealing, surprising and insightful, and provide a compelling window through which to make sense of the numbers. The interplay between the two phases of research has been a rich source of understanding and helped us create insights and actions for brokers to use in their businesses.

DEEP CLIENT ENGAGEMENT ACROSS THE BUSINESS DRIVES SUCCESS

The commitment of the Vero team to make the most of the Index is a major part of its success. While the Index is predominantly a marketing tool, it has also been embraced by the entire organisation, in fact, it has become a valued resource industry-wide.

The ongoing support of all involved has ensured that the Index is not just “nice to know” but is useful, actionable and valued by the people who read it.

Furthermore, the entire team works together to continually evolve and improve the Index. Informed by an additional piece of research, an annual broker survey, Vero ensures it understands what’s working, what’s not and how the Index can better meet the brokers’ needs. We also regularly conduct workshops to come up with new, fresh ways of doing things. At BrandMatters, we value our partnership with Suncorp enormously and are grateful for the commitment the team shows every year to use and evolve the Index.

SMEs are a major engine of the Australian economy, and insurance, while often considered a grudge purchase, plays an incredibly important role in protecting these businesses and delivering peace of mind to small business owners and decision-makers.

Working alongside the team at Vero to understand and tell the story of insurance for small businesses has been an enormous privilege, and we look forward to continuing this journey.

The Australian edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 was released at the end of February and it appears that across the breadth of Australian businesses and institutions, trust is at an all-time high.

Briefly cast your mind back to 2019, and at that point, Edelman’s insights were a stark contrast to what we saw this time around. The 2019 edition showed enormous inequality in trust levels, with a more trusting group building from the informed section of the public, versus a far-more-sceptical mass population. The only real trust to be found was in employers, with Australian’s appreciating their employers and rewarding them with greater loyalty, engagement and commitment. This had significant implications for your employer brand, and in defining an employee value proposition that would resonate throughout your organisation as it evolved across the changing conditions in the economy and society.

Here are our four key takeaways from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, as well as the implications for your brand.

1. The influence of environmental, social and governance competence on trust levels is significant.

Businesses in Australia have looked to align with the significant pressures around climate change and ethics, to the point where they are now trending towards ‘competent’ territory. This is significant as just two years ago, the Barometer reported that no institution was ethical, let alone competent. It appears that climate change is of increasing concern for Australians, and it is certainly of much greater concern than fears over contracting COVID-19.

This puts immediate pressure on businesses who are not putting their corporate, social responsibility and sustainability position on the same level as (or above) COVID-19. We saw enormous amounts of sustained change in response to the immediacy of the pandemic and its impact on daily life, but the pressures of climate change and the impact of ethical reform is a much longer, strategic consideration for brands going forward.

Your brand may need to reconsider its messaging and look to better reflect the changing mindsets amongst potential clients. A refreshed brand positioning or a rethinking of your corporate narrative can help your organisation align to these revised expectations and better reflect your values.

2. Employers continue to be crucial - defining this relationship in the changing context is essential.

Just as it was in 2019, employers remain a crucial bond of trust across Australia. This employee-employer dynamic has changed, however, with businesses being required to rewire their approach to working arrangements and create a future of work that works for all. The national ‘work from home’ experiment has allowed employees to juggle professional and personal obligations and collaborate with colleagues virtually. For enterprises of all sizes, the level of trust required to ensure organisational accountability has remained high, and this has solidified the bond with employees.

It is important to consider your existing employee value proposition and define how it currently turns up through these revised working arrangements and economic conditions. Brands that take a proactive approach and clearly articulate their employee value proposition in this context are likely to see this bond extended. This places an emphasis on their culture and flexibility and helps them be perceived internally and externally as a more enticing employer of choice.

For more information on how to build an engaging employee value proposition, click here.

3. Salient and contemporary thinking will be critical as information hygiene shapes behaviour.

The 2021 Barometer showed that the Australian public is highly conscious of the way they digest information and are increasingly aware of the political, media and scientific literacy they read. This is now seen as much more of a personal responsibility and being informed across multiple sources of news and contemporary information was of increased importance.

Brands that can demonstrate an understanding of this through active and well-evidenced thought leadership will benefit from this renewed awareness amongst the general public. But it is important to remember that this perspective and thought leadership content should be validated with insight and analysis.

Brand research is a powerful tool that can help throughout this process. Research allows your brand to take a deep dive into the state of the new market, to find out what clients expect of you, to discover what their new current needs are, and to establish how to reconnect with them both rationally and emotionally. Brand research will ultimately help to build to this trusted, evidenced perspective throughout your thought leadership thinking.

4. Trust is at an all-time high across all Australian institutions, and it appears that it’s ours to lose.

Trust is one of the most valuable assets for any organisation, and in the B2B context, trust and culture – the values, mission and habits of an organisation – are interdependent. When an organisation has a strong and positive culture and an authentic offer to the market, trust and brand advocacy are built over time. The insights from the 2021 Barometer are a direct reflection of this sustained effort from Australian institutions, but it is important to remember how fragile that trust is, and how quickly a reputation can deteriorate when culture and trust aren’t aligned.

Trust is a crucial pillar in business and as it rises, so does consumer confidence. Organisations that lead with their brand values will be better positioned to capitalise on this rise in consumer confidence. 

Organisations have had the opportunity to transform the very human, day-to-day interactions between themselves and their employees and rejig their existing approach. When this is clearly articulated through a mastered and evidenced EVP, and when trust has become part of a company’s culture, they become known as valuing their employees, and prospective talent is drawn to them. Their existing employees are engaged and committed and trust that what they are doing, matters.

Building and maintaining trust in your brand, matters

First and foremost, brands need to uncover what is important to their customers; once this is established and understood, then your brand strategy should be a promise to deliver this.

At BrandMatters, we understand the criticality of building trust throughout your brand strategy. Whether it is in relation to articulating a strong brand positioning, crafting a differentiated brand narrative, or building out emotionally engaging customer or employee value propositions, everything communicates and has an underlying impact on developing trust in your brand.

Thursday, 21 January 2021 16:19

It would be an understatement to say that a lot changed for brands in 2020. Rapid change and pivots have been a central theme of survival for brands during 2020 and now, with the commencement of 2021, successful brands will need to decide on whether these changes will need to stay as the new normal, or whether they need to consider a completely new path for the future.

One thing is certain, many of the dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour are here to stay and brands need to be more in tune with their customers than ever before. As we discussed in our Guide to Brand Research, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a major fast forward on some of the consumer behaviour trends that were slowly bubbling away. This includes the major shift to predominantly online shopping, learning and meeting and remote working.

The impact on behaviour has demonstrated the criticality of agility within organisations. Some brands were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and were able to capitalise on these changes; others tried to pivot and failed to meet these new consumer needs. Some brands sought to weather the storm and carry on with business as usual.

Adapting your business and brand to the ever-changing needs of consumers is not an easy task even in the most favourable of circumstances. Brand research can help determine the right path, and also ascertain how your brand is being perceived. Understanding customers’ needs and emotional drivers better will help brands to find the right positioning that connects on a deeper level. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, the behaviours, emotions and needs of your customers or clients have changed and now is the time to ensure you (re)connect with them on a deeper level.

At BrandMatters, we believe there are three guiding principles to finding a deeper connection with your clients/customers:

  1. Trust
  2. Purpose
  3. Delivery

The importance of transparency and trust

Whether you are dealing with new clients or existing clients, earning and keeping their trust is vital. There was a remarkable change in the trust landscape since the Edelman Trust Barometer launched in January of last year, trust in government had surged, making government the most trusted institution for the first time in its 20 years of study.

The Spring Update of the Edelman Trust Barometer report conducted to dip into the consumer trust sentiments during the pandemic, shows that 67 percent of respondents believe that those with less education, less money and fewer resources are bearing a disproportionate burden of the suffering, risk of illness and need to sacrifice as a result of the pandemic, and more than half are very worried about long-term, COVID-related job loss.

With the release of the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, it appears that consumers do not know who to trust. Edelman believes this is a moment of reckoning for organisations. Transparency and trust come to the fore. Investors and consumers have indicated that environmental and social responsibility factors must play an important role. Businesses must work with the government to ensure they put people before profits as more people struggle with the uncertainty of their financial futures and employment opportunities. 

Articulate your purpose and brand positioning

Earning trust comes down to transparency, a responsibility for brands to act ethically and with a purpose greater than profit. Having a strong brand positioning that is communicated and understood throughout the organisation will mean that the whole team can effectively deliver on this with each and every customer interaction.

Your brand positioning is what will set you apart from your competitors and guide decisions on how best to connect with your ideal customers/clients. A strong brand positioning is a key deliverable of brand strategy and will be the most important tool brands will have in guiding them through these turbulent times when financial pressures can tempt brands to swiftly change course.

We’ve worked with many brands to define their brand positioning. To understand the importance of a well-defined brand positioning, you can read some of our latest articles on the subject or view our case studies.

Exceeding expectations on delivering value

The customer experience will differentiate your brand from competitors. Delivering over and above the threshold of expectations will drive loyalty, repeat business and referrals. Brands need to understand what it will take to deliver on and exceed their customers’ expectations. It is not just at the time of purchase, but the entire customer journey that needs to be considered.

A brand is a promise kept, so ensuring your brand delivers on the promises you make is critical. Developing and implementing proof points that resonate with your customers is vital. Consistently demonstrating these proof points to your customers is an important part of your marketing strategy.

Delivery of your brand doesn’t end at the sale of your product or service. It is essential to continually measure and monitor your brand performance. At BrandMatters, we believe a customer-centric approach will help propel a brand forward and drive growth. Through our proven methodology, we gather customer, market and competitor insights, and then use this insight to develop winning brand strategies.


Get in touch to discuss how you can truly understand and connect with your customers in 2021 and beyond.

As a brand agency, we are always on the lookout for brands to advocate for. We love to see brands do great things, inspire people and in return gain the brand loyalty they deserve.

Each year, we sing the praises of the brands we’ve been impressed by during the year. When COVID-19 hit, we saw many brands pivot or create unique offers to suit the volatile and changing demands of business.

Here is a list compiled by our team, of 10 brands that have impressed us in 2020.

StageKings

StageKings switched from making giant pop-up stages for large scale concerts and events to designing, manufacturing and selling stand-up desks and other 'isolation' office furniture. In recognition of the struggles that the music industry has faced during COVID-19, StageKings continues to donate a portion from every desk sale to Support Act, a not-for-profit which is providing emergency support, including a wellbeing hotline, to people in the entertainment industry.

RESMED

ResMed produces innovative medical solutions to help keep people out of hospital. In response to the global pandemic, the organisation swiftly pivoted to ramp up the manufacturing of ventilators by more than 3.5 times during the first six months of the COVID-19 crisis. ResMed also accelerated the launch of new digital health solutions to help clinicians remotely diagnose, treat, and manage sleep apnea and asthma patients during the pandemic and beyond. Mid this year they also launched a new campaign with Brad Fittler on the importance of a good nights sleep. As part of this ‘Awaken your Best’ campaign you can take a free online sleep assessment.

ING

The banking industry has been under intense scrutiny post the royal commission and ING have continued to hold a strong position in terms of being a trusted brand within the industry. During COVID-19, ING’s advertising featured their team doing their job from home, in an effort to showcase their commitment to their team as well as their customers. They also launched Real Talk, which is a series of films and articles that have been created to cut through the financial jargon, delivered by people who would resonate with their customers, and further support their brand positioning.

AfterPay

It’s hard to go past AfterPay, who have complete category dominance within the buy now pay later market. They have done an amazing job building distribution with retailers and have tightly targeted millennials very effectively as well as worked hard to put in place product features that encourage responsible spending and support for those in financial distress or for those who get their spending a little out of control. AfterPay’s shareholders have certainly been reaping the rewards in the brand’s success. The jury is out as to whether the current share price is sustainable, but in the meantime, it can’t be denied they thrived through COVID-19 via a targeted and potent focus on millennials.

NRL

Despite the naysayers, the NRL successfully navigated the pandemic and delivered an extraordinary 180 game season amid a shutdown of sport globally. The grand final crowd of 40,000 marked the biggest public gathering in Australia since mid-March when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. In terms of sports viewing and participation, it definitely had a positive impact on a sport that has faced a number of internal and external behavioural challenges.

Business Australia

Business Australia, the rebranded NSW Business Chamber was just days away from launching their new website when the pandemic hit. As a result, they quickly pivoted and turned their website into a COVID-19 news hub offering support and vital information to businesses facing the rolling crisis. With small businesses facing an economic nightmare like nothing they have ever faced, Business Australia knew they needed to ramp up their efforts in supporting businesses through the crisis. The dedicated coronavirus news hub has proven a lifeline to many businesses as has the freemium membership model. Read more about Business Australia COVID-19 pivot here.

Cheese Therapy

The bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions have put pressure on regional cheese businesses who traditionally rely on tourism. Cheese Therapy, an online specialty-cheese retailer, came to the rescue. One small town of Milawa in regional Victoria was facing the heartbreaking decision to discard their glut of cheese which was ready for consumption. Cheese Therapy came to the rescue putting an SOS on social media asking its cheese-loving followers to buy a ‘Rescue box’ to help Milawa. They expected to sell 50 and ended up selling 2000 packs of cheese. They continued this approach throughout COVID-19 lockdowns, introducing a monthly ‘Therapy box’ which included regional artisan cheesemakers unable to sell their cheese in their normal channels. Cheeses that were meant to be consumed on Qantas First and Business Class flights were now being shared and enjoyed by consumers in lockdown.

Buy from the Bush

Another regional superhero brand is 'Buy from the Bush'. A movement that started during the droughts and bushfires has continued to grow and evolve throughout the COVID-19 lockdown giving regional towns a way to sell their wares to city folk via an easy online process. The BFTB team has recently launched a sister site Stay in the Bush and both have become beacons for what buying Australian means to fellow citizens, and what can be achieved by consciously choosing Australian goods, services and experiences.

Spotify

Despite initial concerns of how COVID-19 would affect listening habits and subscription products, Spotify has managed to grow their subscriber base significantly. The brand has continued to be very active in the market during the year in terms of advertising and promotions. We enjoyed seeing them release their own version of market research – subscribers could view their own personal ‘Wrapped list’ which gives Spotify users a look back at their listening habits during the year, as well as providing an insight into its users' listening trends as a whole.

Airbnb

Airbnb wasn’t unscathed by Covid-19’s brutal decimation of the travel industry, but the short-term holiday accommodation rental company bounced back quicker than its competitors in the hospitality industry. They introduced a much more localised focus, with their ‘go near’ initiative as well as introducing safety protocols and measures to adhere to COVID restrictions. In the height of lockdowns and zero travel, they introduced a new Online Experience feature, where their customers could enjoy a wide array of activities from the comfort of their home.

This list is of course in addition to the list of our clients, who we’ve worked with this year and over past years, read more in our previous blog about our exciting client brand work.

In what can only be described as an unprecedented year, it has been heartening to see so many brands pivot and persevere through such tough times. We look forward to 2021 and continuing to see brands evolve and grow.

 

It has certainly been an eventful year. Like many organisations, our business has adapted through the COVID-19 pandemic, firstly working from home, facilitating virtual workshops via zoom and collaborating with a variety of clients who have been facing their own unique set of challenges.

In a year filled with uncertainty, we’ve remained focused on our belief that organisations who invest in their brand through research and strategy will survive and thrive.

Brands that take the time to understand their customers, the market and their competitors and subsequently articulated a clear positioning will find a way to cut through the clutter, stand out and resonate with clients.

We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the clients we have worked with during the past 12 months, who are looking forward to a successful 2021. Our team have identified some of the most memorable projects of the year (in alphabetical order as we don’t play favourites):

 

BOULEVARD 

Introducing the new digital destination for private companies and their investors. We really enjoyed working with a passionate client devoted to producing a sophisticated brand expression that spoke to aspiration and transformation within the category. We look forward to seeing this exciting new brand proposition grow and prosper in 2021 and beyond. Here is a sneak peek at the work.

Burrana

We worked with the team to launch the new Burrana brand in 2018. The brand was well-received in the market with much positive feedback. This year, with new products set to launch, Burrana needed to develop a clear, evidence-based product portfolio strategy to launch their latest products to market. Despite the challenging and unparalleled year of disruption in the aviation industry, Burrana launched the latest iteration of its integrated in-flight entertainment platform, RISE. A complex and detail orientated platform that required a robust and well-articulated product portfolio architecture to define the value it brought to both existing and future airline clients. We worked intensively with the Burrana team in Australia and in the US to build the strategy in late 2019 before its launch in June 2020. RISE is a more nimble and efficient solution than the more expensive providers and is now set to take off as the industry commences the journey to recovery. For more details about the development of the Burrana brand and its journey with BrandMatters, view our case study.

Caruso’s Natural Health

Another brand we have had a long association with, Caruso’s Natural Health offers a comprehensive selection of holistic, natural health products. We worked with Caruso’s on the rebrand back in 2012, and consumer engagement and advocacy has gone from strength to strength. This year, we’ve worked on a research project to uncover consumer attitudes and behaviours for taking vitamins and supplements. It was great to get right into the consumer’s living room and for this project we also ran an online community where we covered many topics including shop visits, video diaries, customer journey mapping and an evaluation of all the touchpoints along the way.

Cuscal

As Australia’s leading payments provider, Cuscal sits at the edge of our payment revolution. In March this year, the Cuscal rebrand launched to the market with a refreshed positioning and look and feel, signalling to the market the contemporaneity of the organisation and its forward-looking view. We were thrilled to be engaged across this entire journey, view our case study here.

Interpod

Modular bathroom manufacturer - Interpod, engaged BrandMatters back in 2016 and 2017 to develop their brand positioning, brand story and key messages. Now we are delighted to be once again working with the team conducting some brand research which will determine their future strategy and visual identity.

Vero

We proudly worked with Vero to produce the 9th annual SME Insurance Index. Since 2012, the SME Insurance Index has provided brokers with invaluable insights into the insurance environment along with tools designed to help grow their businesses. The annual index launches each year in March; in the same week that the global pandemic would change business and the world as we know it. As the pandemic took effect, Vero realised that brokers would need additional insights into the impacts and to deliver actionable insights for the current environment. We worked with them to produce an additional SME Insurance Index COVID-19 Pulse Check.

These are just a few of the clients we have worked on this year.

We take pride in the work we do, and at the end of each project, we always feel very invested in the success of the brand. We believe that the strong relationships we’ve built over the years with clients speak volumes about our work. (In saying that, a google review would also be much appreciated)

Given the challenges this year has presented, we know and understand that organisations who have invested in their brand can confidently move into 2021 with optimism. We head into 2021 more determined than ever before to build brands that are informed by research and destined to differentiate.


Contact Us.

Thursday, 12 November 2020 10:22

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.

Measuring and evaluating the performance of your brand and marketing activity is critical in ensuring your organisation is delivering accountability for your business objectives and brand strategy. 

As business decision making continues to be plagued with uncertainty, and as economic conditions continue to waver, being able to demonstrate certainty and assurance and in your brand strategy is essential.

Our new e-Book, the Guide to B2B Brand Measurement, is designed to help you gain a better understanding of brand measurement and evaluation methods, as well as how they can empower organisational growth and business strategy across organisations.

The guide will:

  • Outline the key differences between B2C and B2B brand measurement.
  • Define the unique challenges B2B organisations face when evaluating performance.
  • Provide insight into the various methods to measure and evaluate brand health.
  • Clarify the parameters for successful brand measurement initiatives in the B2B context.
  • Highlight the benefits of ongoing measurement of your brand.
  • Explain what you should expect when you actively measure your brand’s health.
Wednesday, 28 October 2020 11:01

It’s not uncommon for us to hear a simple lament from senior marketers and decision makers within B2B organisations: “We need to understand our clients better, but we simply can’t justify a big, expensive market research project”.

Heightened by the ongoing turbulence in markets and economic conditions, the purse strings of marketing extensions continue to be tightened and more closely monitored, meaning the function needs to do more with less and constantly justify investment to C-Suite executives.

So, what can they do to accurately understand their clients and shape their strategy going forward?

Well the good news is that, contrary to popular belief, high quality and well-articulated brand and market research doesn’t always have to be expensive. There are a multitude of techniques and methods that can be deployed to gather relevant, tangible and compelling insights into your market and clients, without requiring an extensive budget that is traditionally associated with a research program.

In order to explore these individual costs further, we have looked to break down the main elements that determine the price tag of contemporary research projects.

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If you would like more detailed breakdown of these project elements, or a deeper understanding of some of the research options available to you, feel free to download our free Guide to Brand Research: 2020 Edition.

So how can organisations apply these impact and potential savings to produce the most cost effective and high-quality outputs? We will begin by exploring what not to do, and then provide some techniques to maximise the cost efficiencies within a contemporary research project.

What to avoid when looking to save money on research

As a rule of thumb, there are two clear areas that costs need to be retained – at the beginning and at the end of a brand or market research project.

And if we were to quote the great Albert Einstein…

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes”.

Now when we apply the above quote to brand and market research, it is highly likely that by taking the time and tangibly allocating resources to planning at the start of the process, that you will gain significant savings in the overall project in the long run. By approaching your unique situation with a thorough and well-articulated brief for your research provider, you are likely to be provided with insights that are more actionable and more aligned to business strategy. This also means the recommendations have more longevity as the research is received well internally, which further binds the subsequent strategic decisions that are made in accordance with the implications.

Likewise, when clients are looking to save money by cutting the hours spent on analysis and insights distillation at the end of a project, the efficacy and quality of the findings is undermined. Given the turbulence of traditional markets and operating models, there are very few organisations that have been able to continue unaffected and are currently operating in contexts that are uncertain. So, once you have made the practical and strategic business decision to invest in research to address this uncertainty, why cut corners on the elements that will guide strategy going forward? Simone Blakers from Rapp said it best…

Data is an expense, but insight is a bargain”.

The very best data, measurement and evaluation metrics are fundamentally limited if a research partner does not have the time to apply their objective analysis to make sense of them. What does it all mean, how can the business use the information to address a problem, grow the business, change the strategy, make a difference… the list of outputs are highly variable and completely bespoke to an individual organisations circumstances, it is not a one size fits all approach and that obviously comes with some additional expenses..

The best techniques to apply when looking to save money on research costs

Beyond these two main areas to avoid, there are some clear and realistic methods that organisations can apply to save money on a research project. Once again, this comes down to the ability to plan and prioritise accurately and efficiently.

At BrandMatters, we typically consider and apply these five cost saving techniques, depending on the whether they are appropriate for the circumstances and requirements of each individual client.

1. Use existing mailing lists and data bases

Finding and accessing the most appropriate people can be one of the most challenging and expensive components of a research project. These concerns are naturally heightened in the context of B2B organisations, who operate with smaller sample sizes, unique respondents and niche audiences. This cost can be substantially reduced if you have access to your internal audience databases and mailing lists.

2.Explore online methodologies

A large volume online quantitative survey can be shared to external clients and stakeholders as a mechanism to engage multiple audiences cost effectively. Hosting platforms represent a high value for money and with increasingly tight budgets have effectively supplemented expensive online research communities for small/mid-tier organisations.

3. Be disciplined and focused

Despite the best intentions of maximising research outputs, organisations need to make sacrifices by being specific and prioritising areas/target audiences. Unless you adequately resource your marketing function, there wont necessarily be the budget available to address everything you want to cover. Questionnaires and interviews need to be focused and disciplined to get the best value out of them.

4. Minimise travel with video conferencing

In the B2B context, qualitative research costs can escalate quickly if a researcher is required to travel and be face-to-face with multiple stakeholders. Combat these costs by integrating high quality video conferencing software, where there is increasing parity in quality and levels of acceptance with senior leaders.

5. Utilise existing insights and information

Desk research remains a critical, cost effective component of a well-defined research methodology. Without properly understanding and defining the current market and status quo with existing research insights of publicly available information, questionnaire and discussion guide development can be compromised.

Partnering with the right supplier

In summary, with careful planning and prioritisation it is entirely possible to achieve a deeper understanding of your market and clients with brand and market research on a tighter budget. Partnering with an experienced and objective supplier ensure the quality of your research is not compromised by shortcuts in cost cutting measures. An expert research partner will build carefully designed qualitative and quantitative research programs that will set your organisation up for sustainable growth.

If you would like to discuss your unique circumstances, feel free to get in contact with BrandMatters.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 16:54

 

Brand research is more vital than ever in this era of rapid change.

With all that has happened this year, now more than ever, organisations need to develop a new understanding of their customers, the market and competitive landscape in order to survive and thrive. 

Brand research is a powerful tool in uncovering the important consumer and market insights that will reshape your brand strategy and drive your business forward. 

Our new e-Book is designed to help you gain a better understanding of brand research as a vital first step in building a successful brand for the future.

The guide will:

  • Provide insight into the power of brand research in growing your brand.
  • Outline the research methods available and the benefits of each.
  • Help marketers understand the questions that can be answered using brand research.
  • Delve into the role of brand research in formulating a brand strategy.
  • Explain how brand research can be used to refine and organise your brand portfolio.
  • Articulate how insights gained from brand research can influence your brand strategy, design and execution.
  • Highlight case studies where brand research has transformed brands and helped them grow and thrive.

 

Brand architecture remains one of the most complex components of brand strategy.

Throughout traditional B2B business, organic additions to both the product and service portfolio can occur, and these additions can simultaneously (and unwittingly) strengthen and weaken an organisation’s alignment towards its key audiences. They can help customers and clients navigate the scope of a company’s offer, but also undermine their confidence and confuse them, meaning they often then seek out alternatives.

Brand Architecture is the way you organise, manage and present the portfolio of brands that sit within an organisation; much like a family tree. Sounds easy, yet this external summation and presentation of the organisations business strategy is frequently fraught and highly complex. This means it often becomes a challenging and sometimes daunting task for even senior marketers and those in the C suite. As organisations evolve and grow, there are often products and services that are built or acquired that can compete and cannibalise each other, just as there can be products and services that have very little alignment to the overall brand strategy.

As is often the case, specialist advice is required to cohesively, comprehensively, yet succinctly develop a sustainable brand architecture strategy. Especially considering the entire brand portfolio may require realignment, restructuring, reorganising or reinventing. Therefore, the process of developing a concise external-facing brand strategy and understandable navigation for your audiences is a key strategic task and not something that can be half done.

In such a complex and crucial task, without properly understanding the current composition of each brand within a portfolio, the level of risk is significantly heightened. So, what is the most effective tool that can mitigate this risk for B2B organisations?

Deploying well-defined brand research to uncover insights to optimise brand architecture strategy

Brand research is an effective and often underutilised asset that can significantly appease this risk. Powerful and well-articulated brand research will uncover and deliver insights that will help an organisation optimise their brand architecture portfolio.

When considering the most appropriate architecture of the brands, products and services in your organisation, there are several considerations that must be taken into account. These considerations are likely to be intrinsically linked to the brand strategy of your organisation and need to consider not just your current portfolio, but acquisitions or divestments you may make in the future.

By considering the wider brand implications through the brand architecture process, you will be able to build a robust and evidenced approach that has considered the pros and cons of each separate architecture option. These options are detailed below and more regarding these options can be found in our ebooks The Introductory Guide to Brand Research and The Guide to Brand Research for B2B organisations

How many brands are appropriate for your organisation and how strong are they?

What internally may be perceived as strong brands with clear differentiation from each other in the marketplace, may not be equally perceived by target audiences. Brand research is essential to understand the market perceptions and attitudes towards an organisation’s portfolio. Brand research will uncover the role and relevance of each brand within the portfolio from a customer or consumer perspective.

Avoiding market confusion, and blurred lines between each brand within the portfolio from a positioning and value perspective will help organisations avoid cannibalisation within an organisation’s own portfolio. Making a well-informed decision on the most appropriate brand architecture model is critical to successfully drive the business forward.

Types of brand architecture considerations answered through brand research

There are several considerations when determining the appropriate architecture for your organisation. Below are some of the typical questions a well-articulated brand architecture research program will address:

  • How are your brands currently being perceived in the market?
  • Is the market clear or confused by your organisation’s offer?
  • Where does brand equity reside, in the parent or at the product/service level?
  • Is there an opportunity for sunset or divestment of specific brands within the portfolio?
  • Are there any gaps in your portfolio that may satisfy the audience’s needs and wants?

More specifically, when considering longer-term strategic mergers and acquisitions to the product portfolio, brand research can help answer:

  • What is the long-term cost/benefit of the organisation’s current assets, including brand reputation and value?
  • What is the current position, strength and value of each brand in the newly formed organisation’s brand portfolio?
  • Considering what the newly formed organisation looks like, what is the new strategic direction? What are its long-term goals?
  • What are the customer expectations and how will the M&A impact the loyalty of existing customers?
  • How does/do the newly acquired brands fit within the existing architecture?

If your organisation requires answers to the questions such as the ones above, or if the conditions for a brand architecture review are relevant to your business, then that is a decisive indicator that it is time for your organisation to research your portfolio and rethink the brand architecture strategy of the business.

Please feel free to reach out to the Insights and Strategy team at BrandMatters if you have any other questions about brand research and brand portfolio strategy. We have a wealth of experience and case studies and can prescribe a bespoke approach that is suitable and aligned to your organisation’s unique situation.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 15:05

Brand research is about uncovering the insights that will lay the foundation for your brand’s development.

We love to solve complex brand challenges for our clients. Brand research allows you to build a deep understanding of your customers, the market and your competitive landscape from which to build your brand strategy and set your brand up for success.

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