It’s not research it’s brand insight

I’ve spent all morning today with the extraordinarily clever Barrie and Vicky from Park Lane Research who have been teaching us all about Brand Insight.

In the old days, this may have come under the misnomer of market research, but it’s been rebranded and seems to work a bit better now.

As we start to work on bigger and bigger projects as a design and branding business, we are increasingly asked to justify our ‘gut feel’ and experience school of advice with some real figures and some data that is valid (rather than assumed).

The real difference between brand insight and research is twofold for me.

1. There’s no fence to sit on, no focus group to hide behind and no weasel to worm you out of a difficult question. You simply speak to your customers or perhaps those who aren’t your customers – and then find out what they think. You listen and then act. Not use them as a crutch because you’ve already acted and need a friend on your side.

2. The second and most exciting one for me is that brand insight looks to the future. Every example I’ve seen of market research seems to be retrospective. It’s taking an historical perspective on what has happened. Brand insight is far more about making a more informed decision about what is likely to happen in the future.

I am an avid fan of Twitter and believe that I learn something new almost every day, but yesterday was a bit of an epiphany day for me with one of the most remarkable comments I have ever read – that will genuinely change the way I look at branding going forward.

It came from someone I had never met before whose name is Joelle Nebbe-Mornod and can be found on Twitter under the name of ‘iphigenie’ and who is blogging here.

What she said was …

‘The perverse effect of branding is that it creates a need for control – control every bit of message, because a brand is so fragile’

I talk a lot about message management, and edged towards control, but had never considered a brand to be fragile, even though I have written about brands for years. This statement has made me think that if we are to protect any brand, any product and any organisation in what is becoming the economists perfect market economy – where all the punters have all the information they need to make the perfect buying decision, we have to be pretty clear on our facts.

Hopefully, with our new brand insight partners, we’ll move beyond simple control, we’ll move to freedom. We simply want to produce better products that we are happy to put our name, brand or mark to. The better we make the products, the stronger we make the brand. If it is cool, you love it, it makes you feel good and it is better at what it does than anything else on the market, surely everyone wins?

Except the cheapskate competition.

We can only hope. Thanks for the following picture from Patrick Looney.

We can only Hope
We can only Hope