Insight-led brand strategies are becoming more and more popular, being adopted in particular by businesses that want to evolve and grow to become more relevant to their target consumers; 77% of B2B marketing leaders say that the branding of a business is critical to achieving this growth.
According to an infographic by Cube, 48% of consumers say that they actually expect brands to know them and help them find new products and services that they need. This makes a lot of sense, with the amount of data (whether active or passive that we’re giving away with each action we take). With this expectation from consumers increasing, it’s becoming increasingly more important for brands to adopt a consumer-led approach to business, which is what an insight-led brand strategy will enable them to achieve.
So, with that in mind, what does having an insight-led brand strategy actually mean?
Agile Research and Customer-Centricity
There are two key elements that an insight-led brand strategy needs to thrive: agile research and customer-centricity. A market research strategy is an essential tool that will generate the insights to keep the wheels turning, keep the strategy evolving, and keep the business progressing. But a structured market research process wouldn’t work quite as well for this purpose as an agile one would; by the time that the insights generated from the structured process would be put to use, consumer opinion and need will have moved on and the insights will be out of date.
Agile research allows for this type of brand strategy to be flexible and evolve according to the insights generated continuously in real-time. Our other blog on a successful market research process outlines the agile research process well. Agile research is one of the most customer-centric market research processes in an insight professional’s arsenal today, allowing for the generation of continuous, accurate, and actionable insights, while also lending itself well to a brand trying to become more customer-centric in their efforts; killing two birds with one stone so to speak.
The important thing to remember is that, customer-centricity is not a business strategy in the strictest sense of the word; it is the very culture running through the veins of a business and powering it to success. A brand strategy that isn’t customer-centric in its nature will never be as successful as a brand strategy that is customer-centric. For more information on customer-centricity, check out our other piece here.
Fundamentals of an Insight-led Brand Strategy
Now that we’ve nailed down the two aspects most useful for the foundations of a brand strategy, we need to embody these aspects and get the ball rolling. So, as stated in our blog on customer-centricity, “you cannot become a customer-[centric] brand without that vital input from your customers”.
The agile research strategy outlined above will enable this essential customer input, putting the ‘insight’ in “insight-led brand strategy”. Because this brand strategy is going to affect the whole business, many aspects of the business will need to be researched in order to make sure it’s working well towards that end goal of accurately representing the brand.
When you start researching the brand to build up a base to build the insight-led brand strategy on, it’s essential to get a sense of how consumers currently perceive it. At FlexMR, we have just launched an interactive marketing campaign, entitled The Consumer Postcard Project, in which we will conduct a short-term research project to get a general sense of consumer perception of your brand. The insights we generate will be shown in an engaging art-form in order to retain stakeholder engagement. This will provide a good base for you to then conduct a more in-depth research study into why your brand is perceived that way.
There is usually a perception gap between what consumers think of your brand, and what a business actually wants the brand to embody. This is either a current issue that this insight-led strategy will correct, or the current perception is correct and the brand wants to evolve and needs to find a way to convey their impending transformation to their consumers, in which case the insight-led strategy will help the brand to identify what they need to do in order to shift that perception.
But agile research on the current consumer perception of the brand, and which channels are causing that perception, will enable brands to identify ways in which they can evolve. The usual causal suspects that need to be researched can be broken down into these key areas:
- Communication and Marketing (social media, marketing and advertising strategies, customer service, etc.)
- Brand and Employee Culture — customer-centricity and the values of the brand need to be ingrained into the very culture of the business so employees can embody it and even improve it as best they can.
- Customer-Centric, but also Brand-Value-Reflective Processes and Policies — This can actually comes as a result of implementing a unifying brand culture.
- Customer-Centric NPD — allows the business to stay relevant and needed.
In order to build a great brand strategy with market research insights, the brand needs to gather focussed insights on all of these different areas, treating each one individually to start with and then drawing them together in the end, unifying them through goal and strategy alignment, will provide a great foundation that will strengthen the brand strategy immensely.
Implementation — Trial and Error
The next step is implementing both the insight-led brand strategy while still carrying on with the agile research. This stage will be a prolonged case of trial and error until the desired outcome has been achieved, but it will be worth it. The key to the success of this brand strategy is to allow the insights generated from the agile research to influence the brand strategy at every step of the way.
Whenever a new change in made to the business in accordance to the new brand strategy, the brand must then find out through research if the change has worked to enhance the brand by changing the brand perception in the way that was intended. If the change didn’t create much of an impact, if at all, then another tactic is needed to try and create the desired effect.
Using both the research strategy and the brand strategy together in good balance and allowing them to influence each other is the key to an insight-led brand strategy, and key to achieving and maintaining a successful brand evolution.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.