Anna Bowler, studio manager at Freshwater, looks at the essential role that testing, and specifically focus groups, plays when it comes to developing an effective brand.
It may be something as simple as a black tick or an apple with a bite taken out of it. However, the development of an effective brand requires more time and investment than picking an icon to associate with your company name.
Firstly, it’s really defining and understanding the brand. What are your values and vision? What is your personality? What words do you want to be associated with your brand?
For example, Ralph Lauren’s iconic polo player was chosen because of the lavish culture surrounding the aristocratic sport to appeal to its core demographic. Alternatively, Hyundai’s slanted ‘H’ represents a handshake between the company and the customer while the oval around it symbolises the company’s desire to make vast business deals outside of Asia – highlighting its ambitions as well as customer recognition.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want your company to represent, a designer can start to produce some mood boards and draft concepts ready for the all important testing.
An internal focus group will firstly assess the perceptions of those involved in the brand development process and use this to ensure the initial concepts deliver everything your brand needs to achieve.
External focus groups are sometimes seen as an optional extra, but, ultimately audience testing can help to avoid costly mistakes. We can learn from PepsiCo who, in 2009, rebranded their Tropicana packaging to ensure a sleek, more modern and minimal design. After distribution, however, Tropicana fans were so heartbroken they spent one whole month flooding PepsiCo with an array of varied complaints. Emails, letters, phone calls, social and generic media commentary. Is this something you could deal with?If you fundamentally prioritise internal views into the development or evolution of your company’s brand, you can’t be sure that the brand concepts will generate the right impact by a panel of your potential customers. People are strange and wonderful, use their diversity to generate the greatest brand you can…