The Data of Market Research & Brand Identity

When we think of market research data and brand identity, many of us tend to see two very different things: the hard numbers of data, and the creativity and elegance of brand identity. Market research data can help shape brand identity and determine the best audiences for existing brands — but how do you connect the two?

What Is Your Brand?

If you’re not sure how to answer this question, don’t worry. Many top marketers do not define or revisit their own branding as often as they should. What most fail to realize is that branding is an evolving process, especially if you’re involved in a constantly changing industry. Your brand includes:


  • What you express: This includes your promises to your customers, your values, and other core principles of your business. Do you put treating customers well ahead of profits? If so, that’s part of the expression of your brand.
  • How you express what you want to say: This is all about how you spread your message. Are you sending out handwritten invitations to prospects by snail mail, or have you invested in a pay-per-click advertising campaign full of bold colors, daring a prospect to try your service or product? These send different messages and attract different consumers.
  • How people feel when they engage with your business: What feelings do people have when they interact with your business? A traditional business person might really appreciate receiving snail mail, but a young entrepreneur might feel inspired by bold digital advertisements. This thinking should extend to your product or service itself as well.


Starbucks, as an example, sometimes provides free beverage coupons when they make an error. They understand that helping a customer and providing a free drink in exchange for the inconvenience is the right thing to do. It’s also more profitable than losing a customer for life or having that customer say something negative on social media, and it means that a barista’s mistake is fixable.


Starbucks takes customer satisfaction and corporate social responsibility seriously. They express their commitment to both by putting the customer first, fixing mistakes, responding to messages, and showing people how their coffee is grown ethically. When people spend more money on Starbucks beverages than they would on a competitor’s drink, they feel that they are getting:


  • A bespoke beverage: Consumers can buy drinks that are customized to their liking.
  • A moral advantage: They feel Starbucks makes decisions to benefit their employees, customers and the environment.
  • Satisfaction: Customers can feel that they contributed to these positive ethics.


Starbucks even includes small round tables to make individual customers feel less isolated. It makes sense, and that’s because they’ve done the research to inform that decision. They know that many (if not most) of their customers come in alone, sometimes with a laptop or a book. Solo customers or customers coming in pairs likely prefer those small round tables. When you think about the atmosphere of a Starbucks, the smell and look of the place are essential to your experience and feelings about the brand.


When you think about branding, consider what it accomplishes and how.

Where Do You Get Data?

Big data, or the collection of large amounts of data from prospects and customers, is integral to informing business decisions. Top businesses gather data, refine it, and adjust their marketing strategies using this robust information. Where do they get the data,  and who sifts through it?


Data analysts and data scientists discover and use this data. With the help of marketing teams, they can also implement it in live marketing campaigns as QVC does, making on-the-spot adjustments. A common source of data is Google Analytics, which is crucial to understanding the behaviors and preferences of customers browsing your website.


Big data also includes information that companies like Google and Facebook collect from every user. Data analysts not only secure this information and produce recommendations for marketers, but they can also use it to identify new opportunities and areas of market growth — hopefully ahead of your competition.


There are also brand-specific options. Going back to our Starbucks example, the corporation collects information about their customers’ buying habits via their app. They know what stores people visit and how often they make purchases. This informs the types of offers they can push to those customers to entice them to return soon.

Branding and Market Profiles

To make the best branding and marketing decisions for your business, you must establish the correct market profile. Market profiles take a detailed look at your business needs and allow you to brainstorm and implement marketing campaigns to match. These profiles also match your business size and goals.


Marketing profiles are classified as such:


  1. Basic
  2. Emerging
  3. Accelerating
  4. Experienced


Basic indicates a need for a small business to get found and generate new leads as quickly, inexpensively, and simply as possible. While you might have grand ideas, you need to start here if your brand is new, and base your decisions on the data you have about your customers and prospects.


The profiles scale from there. You can match your data to it as well: even if you simply have buyer personas for your new business, that’s a starting point. Market profiles at level four should have complex tracking and definitive goals for ROI (return on investment). Brands at this level should track their response rates and similar metrecis carefully.

Expressing Your Brand

Once you have the data and have identified your market profile, it’s time to express your business through branding. If your prospects like to hang out on Instagram, for example, you’ll need to create marketing campaigns that cater to those who “live” there.


Let’s say your research concludes that your customers and prospects value a consistent, stable and secure product or service. You’ll want to ensure your logo and the language you use to market your product reflect that.


Heading back to our Starbucks example, their customers also expect consistency: the ability to order the same white mocha in Beijing or Seattle. Their ubiquitous logo and green aprons represent that.


You’ll also want to employ design standards, such as never including more than 60 characters per line, employing complementary colors. Logo design and creating text- and video-based brand messaging are only a couple aspects of creating clarity in your marketing campaigns.


People should be able to know exactly what you’re about when they first encounter your materials — and whether they see them for the second, third, or fiftieth time, it should evoke a specific feeling or experience. In this way, we can turn complex data into art and welcoming, curated communities that empower customers.