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Perspectives on Branding and Identity from Franke+Fiorella
Issue No.40

The Importance of Research in Brand Identity Development

Redesigning an existing brand or developing an identity for a new brand requires a sizable investment and, as with any investment, it’s not without risk. In the case of a redesign, the existing equity and loyalty to the brand could be negatively impacted. Or if it’s a new brand, it could simply miss the mark—and the target audience—with messaging and a visual identity that doesn’t resonate.

Research, whether it’s focus groups, surveys or ethnographic studies, helps to minimize these risks. This isn’t news. And in this day of metrics-driven business strategy, we had expected to see an increasing demand for it. But we haven’t.

In our experience, there are three key benefits of using research in the brand identity development process:

1. Minimize Risk. Conducting research is like taking out an insurance policy during the brand identity development process. It helps the team assess whether or not the brand strategy and visual identity system are resonating with audiences before the launch. Better to modify the strategy and design in response to any potential negative feedback before you’ve launched it, than spend unmentionable sums to fix the problem after it’s been seen around the world.

2. Bolder, More Confident Design Approaches. Research can’t predict the future, but it does provide critical insights into how customers and end users think, feel and act, giving everyone on the team (designers and clients) the confidence to be bold and different. In the absence of research, there is a strong tendency to take the “safe” route. If you want to try something completely new, research offers a way to test your vision. What if everyone in your industry uses photography and conservative colors and you want to do something radically different? You’ll be more apt to take the leap if members of your target audience have told you that it supports your brand strategy and it’s a refreshing change.

3. Measuring the Return on Marketing Investment. No matter how innovative an organization wants to be, the bottom line is still what matters in the end. Research offers the ability to track the Return on Marketing Investment, giving the executive team more confidence to invest in future marketing efforts.

Research is an important tool in the brand identity development process. It’s the only thing resembling an insurance policy in this industry—and in the scheme of things, a relatively inexpensive one. We understand there are a number of reasons why research might be cut from a project—timing, budget, etc. But, we’ve seen how it can impact a project’s success. So be bold, be different and use research to guide you in the process.

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