What is Brand Research and Discovery?

Brand research and discovery is an in-depth analysis of a brand's current position and value it holds in relation to customer needs, competition, and opportunity within its market.

Brand research and discovery is a critical phase of Brand Intelligence and a cornerstone of any comprehensive brand strategy.

The research and discovery exercise is broken down into 3 primary categories:

  • Brand Relevance
  • Brand Differentiation
  • Brand Sustainability

Brand research and discovery is an intense exercise. Dependent on the size, maturity, and tenure of the business, conducting a thorough brand R&D can easily be a multi-month process requiring hundreds of hours of research and analysis.

When performed with intent, a brand discovery will lead a business to a concrete, multi-year strategy with exact metrics on how to succeed within its market. 

The 3 phases of Brand Research and Discovery

As mentioned above, brand R&D can be simplified into 3 primary categories of analysis; Brand Relevance, Brand Differentiation, and Brand Sustainability.

Simplifying the process into these 3 categories enables business executives and agencies performing the discovery to compartmentalize their research while building a logical storyline throughout the exercise.

Research and Discovery of Brand Relevance

During the brand relevance research phase, there are 3 critical topics to focus your discovery around in order to understand how relevant your brand is within its current current market and to its potential audience.

  • Audience Analysis - in-depth analysis of your brands total potential audience (what is the market size?) including demographic and psychographic profiling. Audience analysis also covers brand affinity qualifiers, media consumption, and customer behavior. 
  • Industry Research - in-depth analysis of current state of industry your brand operates within. Includes revenue ops, cost of goods/services, perceived value, and both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the industry and market.
  • Trend Research - 3-5 year analysis of where your industry is headed, what your audience is expecting, and who the major players and/or challengers will be.

Deliverable //  Brand Relevance Findings Report

Upon completion, the brand relevance findings are packaged into a report which can be influential in directing sales, marketing, and product/service offering roadmaps for the business.

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Research and Discovery of Brand Differentiation

The brand differentiation phase of research and discovery includes deep sales lifecycle analysis, a self audit, and competitor analysis with an optional regional analysis for globally positioned brands. 

  • Sales Lifecycle Analysis - includes historical sales data analysis and product and/or service pricing analysis as it applies through the entire customer lifecycle. 
  • Self Audit - complete audit of all physical and digital owned platforms, partner exposures, media and collateral platforms.
  • Competitor Analysis - analysis of top 3 competitor brands including a product/price analysis and full physical and digital audit to provide benchmarks for success.

Deliverable // Brand Differentiation Findings Report

Upon completion, the brand differentiation findings will be gathered into a report showing the full SWOT and gap analysis of your industry and how/where/when your brand will be able to gain market share.

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Research and Discovery of Brand Sustainability

The brand sustainability phase is designed to expose the internal makeup of the organization and compare it to an external brand perception in order to discover an own-able, relatable, and sustainable market position. 

  • Internal Stakeholder Interviews - these interviews are held with as many people as the organization feels confident with and cover topics such as culture, values, management style, history, and product/price sentiment.
  • Customer Interviews - designed to get first person perception of the brand related to experience, values, culture, customer service, and product/price vs. value sentiment.
  • Broad Audience Surveys - taking what we have learned in the previous research phases, audience surveys enable us to collect quantitative and qualitative supporting data for market analysis. 

Deliverable // Brand Sustainability Findings Report

Upon completion, all findings will be gathered into a report and organized via sentiment status. This report can standalone as a guide to direct internal and external communication strategies as well as educate the business on audience needs as they pertain to all aspects of the brand. 

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Wrapping it all up - delivering a comprehensive brand research and discovery report

At completion of a brand research and discovery exercise, expect to be presented with a comprehensive report covering all 3 phases of the project. This report should educate your business on the key takeaways from each phase and begin to draw a brand story from the trends and insights derived. 

With this report, your business should be able to make key decisions in regards to your product / service roadmap, inform your sales and marketing strategies, and align your internal stakeholders with the external needs of your target audience. 

The final phase of a complete brand strategy would be taking the outputs from the brand audit and research and discovery and developing the Brand DNA. The brand DNA will act as the final output of the initial brand intelligence process.


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How much does brand research and discovery cost?

Brand research and discoveries are generally performed by 3rd party agencies and can cost $30,000 and up dependent on the size, maturity, and tenure of the business. Mature brands can expect to spend $100,000 or more depending on the partner of choice.

While this price tag might seem large, the insights pulled from a proper branding R&D can strategically lead your business to success for the next 3-5 years. 

If your organization is collecting quotes for brand research and getting vastly lower estimates, we suggest to be wary of the value the exercise will produce. 

How to know if your business should invest in Brand R&D

Typically, businesses primed for brand discovery are either in their infancy or mature and looking to rebrand themselves.

Infant brands generally need to understand how their product or service fits within an existing market and what level of market support their brand can expect. 

Mature brands looking to rebrand themselves will go through this process in order to understand the current competitive landscape to regain market share and remain relevant.

What is the value of Brand Research and Discovery?

Much like any business endeavor, a brand R&D is as valuable as the business and its teams enable it to be. Some of the most tangible outputs of a brand discovery are:

  • Strategic competitive market advantage
  • Brand position within target market
  • Audience values
  • Industry trends roadmapping
  • Internal alignment 
  • External needs and perception
  • Roadmap for successful market penetration

Return on investment can be measured and will be dependent on alignment between all departments of the business. If you're looking to quantify the value of brand discovery, you'll need to be prepared to measure over the course of 12-24 months. We typically see clients grow between 30-200%  within the first 2 years after rebranding and many clients go through merge/acquisition. 

What questions to ask during a Brand Discovery

Dependent on the active phase of the brand discovery, you may be looking for examples of mature questions to ask the agency facilitating the research. As standard practice, our agency practices leading the organization through the process in order to streamline the overall project.

Some common questions we get during research and discovery are:

  • Specific definitions around data points - good participants aren't afraid to raise their hands when they don't know an acronym or aren't familiar with a specific data point. When something is brought up you aren't familiar with, ask.
  • Brand comparison questions - it's common for clients to be presented with analysis and immediately wonder how their performance matches up to the competition. This is a great question and the reason we strategically run competitor research.
  • How complete is the dataset? Often times, businesses wonder how extensive the research being performed is. In many cases, the answer to this question will depend on the budget for the project. More data can always be gathered and will increase costs to the project. Be careful of too much data in order to avoid data paralysis. Your agency should be able to lead you in collecting the right amount of data for your business and industry size.
  • What do we do next? - once completed, it's common for people to wonder how they put all this research into practice. Our next step is to use the research and discovery to build the internal and external brand story or brand DNA. With a completed brand DNA, the visual execution of the brand can be performed and then marketing exercise can begin.