(matter) Value of Research in branding blog thumbnail image

The Value of Research in Branding


Product research is the lifeblood of developing and sustaining a successful product line, but brand research is just as – if not more – critical to your brand’s long-term success. Brand research is an ongoing, foundational step toward establishing top-performing branding strategies.

Yet many of our clients at (matter) approach our team without a clear understanding of how brand research works and why it matters. So, to answer any questions our current or future clients may have, let’s dig into what brand research is and how it affects a brand’s identity.

What is brand research?

Brand research is the process of investigating and gathering data so that future brand identity decisions can be well-informed. Brand research data includes feedback on products, customer service, and a brand’s reputation or perception by its target audience.

In many ways, brand research is very similar to product research, but with a much longer lens: Rather than focusing on the performance of a singular item, brand research widens its scope to analyze how the entire brand is performing.

Bear in mind that brand research is different from a brand audit. Audits focus on the financial metrics and outcomes of a company, while research evaluates the attributes and perceptions of a company.

Why does brand research matter in a competitive market?

Picture a brand that decides to launch a new product but does little to no product research. How successful would you expect this launch to be? As a brand owner, marketer, or C-Suite executive, you likely can’t imagine sending a product to market without first gaining a deep understanding of how that item might perform.

Consumers are also highly unlikely to make a purchase without first investigating all their options. A 2024 Statista study of 56 countries discovered that up to 72% of global consumers research purchases online before deciding to buy, illustrating their need for evidence-based data.

If brands wouldn’t launch products and consumers wouldn’t buy products without due diligence, it makes sense that companies should also be concerned about the way their brand is perceived in the world – and that is exactly what brand research can tell you.

By taking an in-depth look at your brand’s perception and reputation, you can analyze your findings and then pivot your time and energy toward developing new marketing strategies that actually align with your goals, creating new campaigns that truly resonate with audiences, and strengthening your position within your niche.

How can brand research benefit my company?

At a high level, these are the top three ways that effective brand research can add confidence longevity to your company:

  1. 1. Brand research helps you understand your audience. Just like testing a product before sending it to production helps you understand the ways in which it will address consumer pain points and stack up against competitors, brand research illuminates your entire target audience’s preferences, behaviors, and demographics, which are crucial pieces of information that will help steer your company’s future strategy, campaigns, and voice.
  2. 2. Brand research enables you to validate your design choices. Thorough research of your brand’s tangible attributes, including logos, colors, graphics, images, and video content, can show you if your choices are resonating with your target audience or if adjustments (or a complete rebrand) would be beneficial.
  3. 3. Brand research aligns core values with audience perception. A brand can’t know where it’s been or where it’s going without a solid understanding of how its core values are perceived by consumers. Thoughtful research paves the way for a strategic alignment of core principles and objectives with the most important values of its target audience, which is essential for authenticity and trust-building.

As you can see, investing in thorough research to understand your audience, validate your visual design, and align your core values is an indispensable tool for long-term success in a competitive market. Now that we’ve outlined the high-level ways that brand research supports your company’s success, let’s explore the tangible ways brand research can boost your brand and increase its value.

What can brand research tell me about my brand?

Scaling a business without a clear roadmap is nearly impossible, but through brand research, companies can gain vital insights as to how they are seen within the context of their industry and the global market as a whole. Here are a few key factors that thorough brand research can illuminate about your brand:

  • Brand sentiment: How do consumers feel about your brand? Do they have a positive, negative, or neutral response to your marketing, products, and services?
  • Brand positioning: How does my brand compare to others in my field? What steps are my competitors taking to ensure their values and products are communicated to consumers effectively and authentically, and how can my brand do the same?
  • Brand semiotics: What do the cultural, individual, and community layers of your company say about your brand, its values, and what it stands for? How will consumers connect with your brand over the aspects of life that matter to them most?
brand sentiment graphic
brand positioning graphic
brand semiotics graphic

How do I start the brand research process?

Brand research can be a straightforward and worthwhile exercise if you know the steps to take and the objectives of your review. Follow these 5 steps to get started. Remember, brand research is not a one-and-done activity, but a continual evaluation.

  1. 1. Examine internal brand perceptions and evaluate how those ideals might be translated to the public.
  2. 2. Identify the performance metrics you most want to measure.
  3. 3. Gather feedback at every stage of the customer journey: awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.
  4. 4. Gather data about your competitors’ brand perceptions so you can more easily find and fill untapped market gaps and expand your unique voice.
  5. 5. Analyze your findings and adjust your brand identity accordingly to better align with your future goals and your customers’ desires.

How (matter) Approaches Brand Research: A Case Study

Each branding decision builds upon the next, particularly when it comes to defining (or redefining) a company’s visual identity. At (matter), we emphasize the pivotal role that research plays in laying a strong foundation for companies that are launching a new brand, scaling an existing one, or contemplating a rebranding initiative.

collage of Bluegrass Realtor workResearch serves as the cornerstone, providing invaluable insights that shape every aspect of the branding process. From gaining a deep understanding of the target audience to conducting comprehensive competitive analyses, research guides strategic decisions to ensure alignment with overarching brand objectives.

Our recent client, Bluegrass REALTORS, approached the (matter) team with concern. Although they hold the title of second-largest local real estate association in all of Kentucky, (matter) discovered through brand research that this highly dedicated organization had a severe disconnect between its values and services and its target audience’s perception of its work.

By leveraging the new research data, our branding experts were able to translate our findings into a complete Bluegrass REALTORS rebrand. Through research, we investigated audience preferences, evaluated brand perceptions, and validated design choices. By doing so, we increased alignment within their brand strategy, introduced a new brand name, and generated a more welcoming brand identity that truly exemplified their values.

After the (matter) rebrand, Bluegrass REALTORS could proudly and effectively demonstrate their commitment to growth, diversity, and inclusivity within the real estate market across Central and Southern Kentucky. It was our honor to work alongside Bluegrass REALTORS and craft a more authentic brand identity based on data-driven research.

By understanding consumer dynamics and market trends, we empower brands like Bluegrass REALTORS to make informed decisions that resonate authentically with their target audience. Research not only minimizes risks but also maximizes the potential for a successful rebranding rollout, positioning brands for long-term growth and resonance in a competitive landscape.

If your company is also in need of a brand identity assessment or realignment, consider how a partnership with (matter) could give you the well-executed brand research you need to elevate your brand’s perception and ultimately increase its success.