When to Conduct Brand Research

There are five discrete moments in the life of a company when the new knowledge obtained from brand research provides competitive advantage.

1. New Company. New Brand. When companies are launched, brand research is conducted to first define the competitive set as it exists in the minds of the target customer and then to understand how to position the new brand in that set.

2. Existing Company. Brand Elasticity. When companies want to offer a new product or service, they need to survey and determine whether the customer will allow the brand to travel from the existing products to the new products. For example, when the Caterpillar Corporation wanted to move from heavy road grading equipment to footwear, brand research informed their decision-making.

3. Merging Companies. Brand Architecture. When two companies merge, they develop a business strategy. Similarly, when two brands merge, they need to develop a brand architecture that defines how the two brands will retain their current customers and attract new customers.

4. Managing Companies. Managing Brands. As companies mature, they seek business consultants to provide expertise in areas ranging from pricing strategies, to developing supply chains, to defining organizational structures. When companies seek to maintain the health and welfare of their brands, they should engage brand strategists to: develop brand-marketing plans that identify and measure customer choice; create new tag lines and logos; inform the development of standard guides that ensure universal expression of the brand; conduct "brand coaching" with executives (so that they become the stewards of their brand) and customer surveys (so that they become managers of their brand).

5. Revitalizing Companies. Rejuvenating Brands. As markets change and customer needs evolve, companies often lose their most profitable customers to new competitors. As their offerings become commodities, their brands become diluted. In essence, both their business and their brands have lost their meaning and relevance to their target customers. Brand strategists can identify the remaining equity in the diminished brand. Next, they can define the new brand promise. Finally, they can reposition the brand to its target customers.
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