Build your brand on firm but flexible foundations

Agile market research is the foundation stone of building a strong brand that will stand up well, in even the most challenging environment.
27 September 2023
Taipei cityscape
Will Galgey

Managing Director, Kantar Marketplace

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When construction on the Taipei 101 building was completed in 2004, it was the tallest building in the world, towering over both global and local competitors. To this day, it still dominates the skyline of Taipei.

But for developers looking to build big, Taipei isn’t necessarily an obvious or hospitable choice due to consistent strong easterly winds and sizeable earthquakes that impact the area every few years. To construct something so iconic, the engineers needed to make use of cutting-edge technology – and have confidence in the data that showed their plans would actually work.

This story of building a colossal structure in such a challenging and dynamic environment draws parallels to building a strong, iconic brand. Fundamentally, big brands making bold choices and need to have confidence in the data that backs their decisions.

Laying the foundation for audacious brand building

Whatever you choose to build, your brand must be clearly defined so that it stands out on the competitive skyline. It needs to be properly (and purposefully) positioned. And to stand the test of time, it needs to be culturally relevant to its context.

Rather than rely only on assumptions or instinct, you must stress test your hypotheses. The building-blocks of your brand should be engineered to be strong yet adaptable. And when you push the boundaries of your experience, you need a way to model what will happen when your ideas get out into the real world.

If you are building in a challenging environment (and who isn’t, these days) you need to account for foreseeable dangers. And if the unforeseen happens, you need to be able to respond quickly, with the flexibility to pivot. The most important thing is that you start with reliable data.

The modern marketer’s dilemma

If you are a marketer, it may feel like you are living in a world of ever-increasing uncertainty. From the ongoing fragmentation of media channels, to global swings in the way people live, work, and consume: there are now more decisions to make, and less time to make them. Often, there is also too little real insight to inform decision-making. Historically, this conundrum has demanded that compromises be made.

Today there are many ways to get quick answers, but not all market research approaches are created equal. Going faster with your research radically increases your costs – if it’s genuine, decision-quality insights you need. On the other hand, speed can potentially undermine reliability and your confidence in results if you cut corners to make your deadline. The result is that all too often, tight turnarounds completely side-line the opportunity to get feedback on important initiatives.

A new reality in market research

The lifeblood of brand growth – properly considered and effective innovation, media planning and ad development – has been lost to the ever-faster speed of business. As a result, market research is experiencing a transformational moment fueled by a combination of new technologies and a more iterative way of thinking. The most iconic and successful brands have recognized that to stay relevant and continue to grow they must respond faster to changing market conditions and consumer needs. This means they have had to fully embrace the new era of agile market research.

Agility is more than just a buzzword

Being agile isn’t just about being nimble or fast. It’s one of those buzzwords that is used by many but properly understood by only a few. Agile refers to an iterative development process in which teams design, test, and adapt their projects to bring them to completion quickly and successfully. And testing is essential to the agile process.

Marketing initiatives demand feedback from their intended audience. In marketing, the consumer is the boss, whether they are the potential users of a new product or the audience for an ad. At its heart, agile market research is like being able to sit down with your customers – at scale – and ask them what they like and don’t like about your brand. It allows you to tweak your ideas and then go back to them to find out if you’ve hit the mark.

Agile market research platforms harness the power of automation

None of this would be realistic without the power of automation. Automated market research platforms offer the chance to know within hours what resonates before further time and effort are committed to a project. And there is no compromise when it comes to the delivery of findings. Online dashboards make it easy to see what has worked and what has not, while relevant benchmarks and diagnostics offer insights into how things might be improved.

Automated market research platforms have come of age. No more is there a compromise between quality and speed, and that opens up the potential for truly agile market research. Whether you choose to conduct the same development process as before, but faster; opt to include more early-stage ideas; or test a wider variety of prototypes… automation widens your options. It gives you more time for thought, and encourages a better, more agile way of working.

Agile doesn’t mean forgetting about the fundamentals

So again, we return to idea of strong foundations. The building blocks of brand growth involve understanding the levers you need to pull to build brand equity while driving ROI. And having the flexibility to withstand strong headwinds requires agility in your brand-building approach – with reliable consumer insights as a cornerstone of audacious decision-making.

For an overarching view of brand performance, Kantar has launched a new, free interactive tool powered by BrandZ’s wealth of data and the Meaningful Different Salient framework. Kantar BrandSnapshot delivers intelligence on 10,000 brands in more than 40 markets, offering a quick read on a brand’s performance in a category. Explore for free on Kantar Marketplace today.

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