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Building a Brand Begins with Research

By Lyndsay Hollis


Organizations spend a lot of money each year to develop their image, brand reputation, and messaging for their key audiences. However, there comes a point when leaders wonder if what they are communicating through advertising and public relations is actually being received as intended by their audiences.

Achieving success by re-enforcing your brand begins with research. We often conduct qualitative research to help our clients address their concerns about developing the right messages to convey their brand. This is typically done through focus groups and one-on-one interviews. We then evaluate if their communications strategies are successfully getting across, and ultimately producing a return on investment, or ROI.

First, it is critical to understand what the organization is known for now, and what it is trying to become, before it tries to move the business needle.

During these focus groups with a cross-section of audience representatives, we collect opinions and perspectives on the brand, which often results in us landing upon many branding opportunities for the future.

Acknowledging what the target audiences perceive, need, or would like to see from their interaction with the brand in their everyday lives is then used to inform the strategy. Most importantly, this is done by actually listening to the audiences and not trying to convince them that your communications approach is the right one.

Comprehensive rebranding and reputation research can yield good results, but it’s what an organization does with that data that is critical. Remember: data drives direction.

Effective branding means giving your services or products a profile in the minds of current and prospective customers that distinguishes it from others and encourages people to want to support it. How do you do that?

You must understand what motivates your customers to choose your brand and how it matches their priorities in terms of relevance, credibility, and sustainability. You must also understand how your competitors perform against those needs and then find a way to differentiate yourself from them with your unique brand.

It sounds like a lot of work, but only after this crucial research is complete can a thorough communications plan be developed with specific messages, mediums, and measurements.

Are you being heard?


Lyndsay Hollis is a public-relations consultant at Strategic Communications, LLC, which says it provides trusted counsel for public relations, crisis communications, government relations, and business strategy. Contact Hollis at




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