Clients looking to offer high-order brand benefits came to mind when I saw this cartoon by Tom Fishburne.
Usually, clients want to elevate the perception of the brand from “utilitarian” to something with a deeper emotional connection to people’s lives.
I really commend companies who want to do market research to understand what this “something” is, instead of making assumptions that may or may not be true.
What Not To Do When Going After High Order Brand Benefits
I have seen plenty of brand positioning studies trying to brand perceptions and personality traits without any prior exploratory research. Subsequently, these studies include a list of statements or adjectives about the brand reflecting only the intended message.
The problem with this approach is that it ignores what the starting point for the customer is. Essentially, they try to put words in their mouths.
In other words, if you don’t know how customers or potential customers currently perceive your brand and products, and how customers and non-customer talk about it, you risk:
- Sending messages about the brand that are not supported by the products, making them ineffective and damaging to the brand’s credibility
- Alienating market segments that may be a good fit for your brand and products
What To Do
My advice is always to use previous research as an input, if available, or conduct exploratory qualitative research. The goal is to identify major topic areas and language use. Furthermore, we can explore emotional connections and the context in which customers use the brand.
Some of the data collection methods we can use for this purpose are:
- Focus groups (offline or online)
- In-depth interviews (IDIs)
- Bulletin boards
- Social media monitoring
- Ethnography (offline or online)
In conclusion, we should base high-order benefits of a brand on the actual relationship (if any) consumers have with the brand. You need to explore, test and test again. This will help you create a ladder that can take the brand to new heights.