You’ve worked hard to make your brand the one customers love and would never think of leaving. And those who aren’t yet your customers? You want them to feel the same way when they discover your brand.
But how do you know that your brand strategy and its execution will produce love at first sight? And what will happen if there is a misstep along the way and you lose customer loyalty, thereby failing to grow your brand to its full potential?
Several weeks ago we wrote about the importance of validation testing in product innovation to ensure that a product meets the actual needs and expectations of users. Validation of your brand’s positioning in the market and how you communicate that positioning is just as important. You have to be sure that your brand’s image accurately reflects that positioning. Every time your brand touches the consumer though product design, logo, packaging, or advertising, it communicates its positioning.
Successful brand validation research requires the same foundation work that’s vital in product innovation:
- Understanding your target consumer. What are your users’ real needs and what are the intellectual and emotional drivers that decide how they meet those needs? What brand benefits fulfill these needs better than anyone else? Finding answers will very likely require some qualitative research. This can be done either face-to-face or via technological tools that enable us to see through the customer’s eyes, and tap into their thoughts and emotions better and more immediately than ever before.
- Identifying brand concepts that resonate with your target. What we say and how we say it is part of how consumers recognize the essence of the brand and its benefits to them. How do we make the brand messaging important and compelling to consumers? Usually we take several brand innovation concepts to consumers to watch and listen to how they respond. Then we refine those alternatives until we have just one or two that require validation to discover what the brand’s positioning should be.
With validation research we take the brand positioning statements to our target consumer and test them to determine:
- Do consumers understand the benefits offered by the brand (its unique selling proposition)?
- Do they believe the brand can deliver these benefits?
- Do they perceive the brand to be unique or highly differentiated from other brands?
- Is it appealing—will they buy it?
Validation research is quantitative and is often conducted in an online survey that may include the positioning statement and other elements of the positioning, such as taglines and logos.
Certainty that your brand’s positioning is on target enables your brand to capture its place in the mind of the consumer. Further, the right positioning can defend it against market competitors and the shifting forces at play in retail and online channels.