Quantitative Research: Measuring the Efficacy of a Rebranding
Understanding the impact of a rebrand is a long-term process that’s critical to transforming market perceptions—and it must start before launch. By quantitatively measuring and benchmarking perceptions of your organization’s brand, you can unlock opportunities for strategy-based decision-making.
Once you’ve identified that your organization, or a brand in your portfolio, is in need of rebranding, the next step is to build in processes that ensure that your new brand is powerful and compelling and that it connects with customers. And it’s typically not a one-time endeavor—rebranding is an ongoing refinement that continuously strengthens how your company communicates with its audiences. It’s a remodel, not a new build.
But without understanding the perceptions of the legacy brand and how the market views the new brand, it’s difficult to know whether your organization is communicating what it wishes to and whether the brand captures the attributes customers desire.
Quantitative research throughout the rebranding process ensures that your business is hitting the right notes. It pinpoints exactly how you should shift or evolve the brand. It opens the door to new opportunities to streamline brand positioning and enables brand leaders to make strategic business decisions. And it allows the organization to account for ongoing changes to customer behavior, market events and other factors that constantly shift customer brand perception. Consider these methods to implement quantitative research before, during and after you embark on a rebrand.
Pre-rebrand: Identify Benchmarks
While your business likely measures its success through indicators like sales velocity, inbound inquires and closing ratios, this type of data doesn’t measure the perceptions current and potential customers have of your brand. These indicators can show that your branding tactics are working, but they can’t confirm what your target audience wants from a brand like yours—or how your target audience views a brand like yours. It can also be challenging to determine whether any post-rebranding changes are truly caused by new brand strategy (instead of, for example, a new sales strategy.) That’s why you need to set and track brand-specific perception metrics. Start by establishing benchmarks that empower your business to understand how its brand is currently perceived and pinpoint areas of need. This should include top-of-funnel metrics that help you track interactions across touchpoints in the customer journey. Any changes can then be used to track your brand’s evolution over time. If you already have brand tracking in place, your organization may have much of the necessary data on hand already. If not, then you should consider establishing benchmarks for:
- Awareness: How visible is your brand now among your target audience? What attributes do customers associate with your brand currently?
- Consideration: What do customers want from your brand, and how is your brand delivering on those attributes? What feelings and emotions play into their decision to purchase your product/service? Where does your brand sit in the mind of consumers?
- Usage: How are they using your product/service, and at what time in their purchasing journey do they expect to engage with your organization?
Once you’re armed with your baseline data, you can project the impact of a rebrand.
Mid-process: Validate Your Concepts
Once you’ve started developing your new brand, it’s crucial to take a step back and quantitatively test new concepts with a representative sample of a target group. Fresh concepts can be compared against your original benchmark (and also used as a guide for market performance after launch). The resulting data can also be used to build confidence in your new direction. At its core, this step allows you to ensure the effectiveness of your new brand identity before it’s out in the marketplace.
You can test the rebrand before launch by studying the qualities a new name, logo or other branding elements conjure for customers. Map the traits that customers associate with your concepts, then measure how customers perceive the attributes you are trying to communicate. For example, if you want your new brand to project speed, study the traits that customers associate with different logos and whether or not they perceive speed. Gathering this data isn’t cheap or quick, but is critical to your ability to project and quantify the impact of a rebrand.
Post-launch: Tweak and Improve
You’ve launched your rebrand, but the initiative isn’t complete yet: Customers will take some time to process the change. Initially, perception may take a hit. Think of it as a honeymoon period—your customers are still getting to know the “new you.” That makes timing of post-launch research critical, because customers’ view of your company is likely to change for months and years beyond their first interaction with your new brand. In the early stages of your launch, awareness should be used as a KPI, as indicators that point to impact like emotional attributes may not be accurate or useful in the short term. For most brands, post-launch research should be conducted six to 12 months (or more) following launch to allow customers to digest the new brand.
Post-launch research essentially replicates the first study conducted in order to benchmark how the perception of your brand has evolved. The only changes to the study should be ones that present the new brand.
There are two main methods of conducting this research: ongoing and point-in-time research. Both should include your new brand name and/or mark and competitors in the market who have rebranded. Ongoing rebranding research is typically completed via surveys at specific intervals, such as monthly or quarterly. Often Net Promoter Scores are reviewed regularly—monthly or quarterly, often—to uncover macro-level signs that a brand is on track. Ongoing research can reduce the effects of seasonality in your data and provide timely insights into which strategies are working.
But the level of complexity associated with ongoing rebranding research isn’t feasible for every company—while the projectability it delivers is invaluable, it’s a heavy lift. Many brand leaders instead focus on building excitement in the first six months and then track emotional perception later. This type of point-in-time research can be conducted on an annual or semi-annual basis, which drives down cost, but it can also make it difficult to track ongoing changes. Point-in-time research can also be influenced by recent events, whether negative or positive.
At the end of the day, ensuring the effectiveness of a rebranding is all about deeply understanding what customers want from your brand and how they think about you, then making decisions about your brand using the data gathered. Quantitative brand measurement can tell you more than any commonly used sales or business metric—it enables you to quantify the efficacy of your rebrand.