The Skinny on Market Research (and Why We Don't Do It)

By Summer Teal Simpson Hitch

Market research, like marketing, is a science. It's also a rather emotionless shield to hide behind. An insurance policy so decision makers can say "We aligned with the research." Branding, on the other hand, is an art, and one founded on sociology and cultural awareness. And it’s full of emotion.

Layer 1@2X

Several weeks back, toward the end of a Discovery for a really great client, a question arose from their Business Manager. Did we do market research, he asked, and what role would that play in our production process for branding their company?

I could have jumped on that question with a predictable reply. But it had been awhile since that subject had come up for us. Did we still know where we stood on the issue? Was the decision to not do market research still intentional? I prompted our leadership team to revisit the question of whether market research is something we believe there'd be value in adding to our branding process. See, without realizing it, the client had motivated us to talk more about this as a team.

Do we do market research? Nope.

It was a good conversation that solidified our standpoint on the topic. Today, we'd like to share that standpoint, and the rationale behind it, with you.

Do we do market research? Nope.

Branding is about projecting to the world what your company is all about. Therefore, we get our answers and subsequent directives from inside an organization rather than trend chasing. And we combine that information with our experience and expertise in the realm of brand identity to create a solid, informed brand experience for a company and their audience.

It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t.

Steve Jobs

That’s not to say we don’t do our homework. You've seen that we do.

  • We make sure to dial into a client’s internal compass so we know what motivates, drives, and differentiates their company.
  • We analyze the audience—their needs, demographics, and psychographics.
  • We use trend reports that talk about what target audiences are responding to in the moment and looking forward.
  • We look at other brands in the space, and leading brands, to understand what they are doing, why, and where things are going.

Market research, like marketing, is a science. It's also a rather emotionless shield to hide behind. An insurance policy so decision makers can say "We aligned with the research."

Branding, on the other hand, is an art, and one founded on sociology and cultural awareness. And it’s full of emotion.

In the words of Steve Jobs, “It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do.”

One more thing.

Market research is expensive. It adds $5,000-$50,000 to projects, depending on the size and scope of the project or company. It also adds a great deal of time—several weeks to six months. It’s time and money we’d recommend a client spend if we felt that it would significantly impact the outcome. Lucky for our clients, we don’t.

Per our company standards, we are constantly evolving our processes, methodologies, and rationales to Make it Better. So there may well come a day when we bring market research into the fold for some of our services. But for branding, you can count on us to bring about intentional experiences, fueled by emotion and purpose, and designed to resonate with the target audience.