Brand management started with one of the largest CPG companies in the 1930’s—Procter & Gamble. An employee of P&G, Neil McElroy and the P&G President at the time, propositioned an entirely new role in marketing to help handle branding activities.
As P&G was growing, they needed a new solution to help manage the variety of products within their portfolio and individually assess those products’ brand’s performance—thus resulting in branding teams. Since then, brand management has evolved into a much more extensive part of organizational success.
Today, brand management involves marketing a brand by analyzing information to strategically plan and implement efforts and tactics that drive positive brand perceptions and ultimately sales. The outcome when brand managers effectively succeed in this effort results in a significant impact on a variety of metrics:
- Higher customer satisfaction and brand loyalty
- Strong brand equity and all aspects of brand performance
- Increased sales and return on investment (ROI)
Challenges of Brand Management
Who manages brands? Brand managers of course. However, it can be anyone from marketing really. Brand management requires support from a variety of roles from product to sales to research.
For example, brand managers may work with product teams to understand the key features and benefits to highlight on-pack before actually developing packaging. Or as is the case with sales, brand teams will create assets or enable the sales teams in other ways to support their lead goals.
Brand teams are responsible for managing both intangible and tangible aspects of a brand. Tangible aspects of a brand could be the actual product or packaging. While intangible aspects of a brand could include anything related to brand perceptions such as advertising efforts or emotional experiences with the brand.
Thus, branding teams work with a variety of people in an organization and assess both tangible and intangible aspects in order to help solve a variety of business challenges, such as
- Convincing internal stakeholders of an action
- Identifying ways to differentiate or gain a competitive advantage
- Determining and testing positioning
- Building a marketing strategy
We know it’s easier said than done to solve these problems though, and without the help of consumer research, could be impossible in some cases. As a result, consumer research can and should be used at a variety of steps in the brand management process to learn about branding efforts that allow brand managers to solve the challenges above.
How Consumer Research Can Help
1. Identifies an Initial Target Market
Before a brand can even begin to establish themselves, they first have to both identify and learn more about their target audience. Simply just identifying them is not enough. This is potentially one of the most impactful ways consumer research can help brand managers.
Market research methods such as custom research or brand perception studies are a great starting point to identify a target market. Often a brand perception study can identify the target market and provide a breakdown of them based on demographics.
Custom research can then provide guidance for targeting efforts when it comes to both products and advertising based on a consumer’s demographic and psychographic qualities. Without this kind of deeper understanding of consumers, brands’ effectiveness in ads and other marketing tactics would be minimal.
2. Shows How to Grow Brand Equity
Brand equity, as we’ve briefly mentioned when talking about brand perception, is the value that results from a brand name, or things unrelated to an actual product or service. This can be more challenging than such tangible aspects (like product sales or pricing) for brand managers to evaluate.
However, using a brand funnel framework for analysis brands can more easily identify their brand’s worth. For example, by using benchmarking, brands can evaluate how their performance is relative to the past and even relative to the competition.
If this kind of research is conducted frequently, at relevant intervals, it’s easy to see how brands might be able to begin tracking their brand performance and make decisions based off of the fluctuations that occur.
This kind of insight also means brands can identify where in the brand funnel—awareness, consideration/trial, purchase, favorite, and loyalty—they are falling short and be able to adjust marketing tactics accordingly in order to increase equity.
Additionally, consumer research that leverages brand funnels in combination with custom research can identify the barriers and triggers to conversion for specific product categories that help understand how to better position a brand.
3. Evaluates and Predicts Performance
Last, but not least, consumer research can evaluate and predict brand performance, in addition to the performance of advertising and marketing campaigns that translate back to a brands’ overall success.
Custom research such as ad, concept, or packaging testing can score ideas based on metrics most relevant to a brand. This level of knowledge about a specific concept or campaign performance is pivotal to predicting the performance of efforts. Essentially, it allows brand managers to understand what campaigns to move forward with and prevent them from launching campaigns that would otherwise be less successful or unsuccessful altogether.
Further, understanding brand performance on a more tactile level can make day-to-day operations much more seamless and let brand teams focus on the bigger picture.
How to Begin
Brand management that properly incorporates consumer research is essential for a business to be successful. If a brand can learn to leverage it early on in brand development, as well as throughout the life of a brand, they’re sure to have the necessary information to tackle the business challenges they’re responsible for solving—and likely have an easier time doing it.
Whether you’re an established brand or not, there’s no time like now to start incorporating more consumer research into your brand strategy. If you can start by tracking brand performance now, you’ll only increase your understanding and success of your brand in the future. Reach out to us if you’re interested in learning more about our brand tracking capabilities, and how we implement a brand tracking study across a brand funnel relevant to you.
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