Expertise

From Lonergan Research

Brand Image

Like many professions, Market Research has developed a range of jargon about brands. Whilst some of these terms are often used interchangeably, they do have distinct meanings.

Brand Image is a fairly general term, which is essentially refers to the question “what do people think of, or associate with my brand?” Brand Image can take a number of forms:

  • Association with products, particularly iconic products (e.g. Baby Bell = cheese, Kraft = vegemite)
  • The functional characteristics of products (e.g. Hard Yakka = durable products, 3M = innovative products)
  • The emotional needs which are fulfilled by products (e.g. Harley Davidson = freedom, Kotex = confidence)
  • Emotional needs or associations which are not related to the products or product features (e.g. Virgin = brash / cheeky, Coca Cola = popularity)

Brand image exists in the minds of consumers, and it changes over time. A brand can, and often will, maintain a slightly different brand image across several target markets (or segments). For instance, Lonergan Research is synonymous with new product development expertise and attention to detail amongst FMCG clients, creativity and dependability amongst PR clients and commercial business expertise amongst its SME client base.

If you have limited information as to how your brand is perceived, brand image is best measured by qualitative research (focus groups or in-depth interviews). Whilst there are many techniques utilised by a skilled researcher, brand association is a common starting point, as it is very simple. It measures unprompted associations through questions like “when I mention BRAND X, what comes to mind?”

Brand personification is relatively well known, as non-marketers find it quite entertaining. Brand personification involves ascertaining how a brand would behave if it were a person, and often involves questions like “If Brand X was a person, what kind of person would he / she be? What car would Brand X drive? What would Brand X do in her spare time?”

Most companies, however, have a fair idea how their brand is perceived, and most large brands are managed by professional brand managers. These brand managers usually have formal brand positioning goals, that is, they know exactly how they want their brand to be perceived. In this case, quantitative research is generally used to evaluate brand image, often on a positioning map, or a perceptual map such as this:

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