Stop trying to guess whether your brand is hitting the mark with your audience. Not doing brand research is like producing movies without ever watching them in the theaters – you can’t possibly execute your brand awareness strategies effectively if you don’t know what it’s like to experience it from the other side.

So ready to find out how to do brand research, and how to translate your findings into actionable steps that get you results? Read this comprehensive guide to find out.

What is brand research?

Brand research is the process of gathering feedback from current, prospective, and past customers or clients. These findings give companies an insight into how their brand is perceived in the broader market. 

Your brand should have a unique personality in order to stand out these days. But it needs to do so in a way that attracts your ideal customer base, rather than alienate them.

Brand research can remove the guesswork from a company’s messaging and brand strategy, providing marketing leaders with data-driven insights to make informed decisions. It allows companies to benchmark their brand strength against competitors, identify areas for improvement, and refine their brand strategy accordingly.

Brand research vs market research

Both market research and brand research aim to gather insights about consumers, markets, and competitors, but they are distinct fields within marketing and business analysis. Let’s explore the differences between market research and brand research:

Scope and focus

Market research is a broader field that involves delving into various aspects of a market, including consumer behavior, market trends, competitive analysis, and market segmentation. It seeks to understand the overall dynamics of a market, identify opportunities and threats, and inform strategic decision-making across different functions within an organization.

Brand research, on the other hand, specifically focuses on the perceptions, associations, and reputation of a company’s brand within the market. It delves deep into how consumers perceive the brand, what attributes they associate with it, and how it compares to competitors in terms of visibility, awareness, and reputation. Brand research aims to uncover insights that can help strengthen the brand’s position, differentiate it from competitors, and drive brand loyalty and advocacy.


The primary objectives of market research typically include understanding market size and potential, identifying target audiences, evaluating consumer preferences and behavior, assessing competitor strategies, and identifying market trends and opportunities. Market research provides a holistic view of the market landscape and helps organizations make informed decisions about product development, pricing, distribution, and marketing strategies.

Brand research is focused on evaluating the strength, perception, and reputation of  your brand. Its objectives include measuring brand awareness, assessing brand image and associations, understanding brand positioning relative to competitors, identifying brand strengths and weaknesses, and uncovering opportunities for brand enhancement and differentiation. Brand research provides insights that enable organizations to build and manage their brand effectively, cultivate brand loyalty, and create meaningful connections with consumers.

Methods and Approach

Market research employs quantitative and qualitative research methods, like surveys, interviews, focus groups, observational studies, and data analysis. It often involves gathering data from a large sample of consumers or businesses to generate statistically significant insights about market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive dynamics. Market research may also utilize secondary data sources such as industry reports, government publications, and market intelligence databases.

Brand research utilizes brand awareness surveys, brand image assessments, brand positioning studies, competitor benchmarking, brand tracking studies, and sentiment analysis. It often involves a combination of quantitative surveys to measure brand metrics and qualitative techniques such as focus groups and in-depth interviews to explore consumer perceptions and attitudes in more depth.


Market research findings are applied across various functional areas within an organization, including marketing, sales, product development, and strategic planning. It informs decisions related to market entry strategies, product design and features, pricing strategies, distribution channels, marketing communication strategies, and competitive positioning.

Brand research findings are primarily used by marketing teams and brand managers to develop and execute brand strategies that resonate with consumers and differentiate the brand from competitors. It helps in crafting brand messaging, designing brand identity elements, shaping brand communication strategies, and monitoring brand performance over time.

While market research provides a broad understanding of the overall market landscape and consumer behavior, brand research zooms in on the specific perceptions and associations surrounding a company’s brand. 

Both are valuable tools for organizations seeking to understand their target markets, make informed decisions, and build strong, resilient brands that resonate with consumers.

How to do brand research

Now that we understand why brand research is necessary, let’s dive into how to do it:

1. Set brand benchmarks

There are two types of brand benchmarks you should consider.

Competitive benchmarks

Competitive benchmarking lies at the heart of brand research, enabling companies to evaluate their brand’s success relative to other players in the industry. 

By comparing key metrics such as brand awareness, perception, and reputation, companies can gain valuable insights into their competitive positioning. Without this data, companies risk failing into ineffective marketing strategies and missed opportunities.

For example, executives who overestimate their company’s brand strength may be blindsided by the challenges of selling their solution or allocating marketing budgets effectively. By establishing clear competitor benchmarks, companies can align their expectations with market realities and make strategic decisions based on concrete data rather than speculation.

Internal benchmarks

In addition to competitive benchmarking, companies must establish their own internal brand benchmarks to gauge their brand’s awareness and perception accurately. These internal benchmarks provide a baseline for assessing the effectiveness of marketing efforts and identifying areas for improvement. By understanding their level of visibility and how their brand is perceived by customers, companies can tailor their messaging and branding strategies to resonate with their target audience effectively.

Brand research goes beyond surface-level metrics to delve into the nuances of consumer sentiment and perception. It seeks to uncover not only what customers think about a brand but also why they think that way. By understanding the underlying drivers of brand perception, companies can identify opportunities for differentiation and develop strategies to strengthen their brand’s position in the market.

2. Determine which methodologies work best for your company

We recommend a balanced approach to methodologies for your brand research, which involves gathering both quantitative data, such as brand awareness and perception, and qualitative insights, such as consumer attitudes and preferences. This gives you a comprehensive understanding of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.

3. Identify your brand research participants

This is where you really need to get clear about who you want to market to moving forward. Recruiting the right participants is crucial to the success of brand research. Whether targeting prospects, current customers, decision-makers, influencers, or partners, companies must employ strategies to ensure a diverse and representative sample. Incentives may be necessary to encourage participation, especially in B2B studies where professionals value their time differently.

4. Utilize the four main types of brand research

When you’re building your brand research strategy, keep in mind that there are four main types of research you’ll want to include:

  • Primary research
  • Secondary research
  • Online research
  • Offline research

How TOP brands use market research – with examples!

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Primary vs secondary brand research

Primary research involves collecting original data directly from the source to address specific research questions or objectives, while secondary research involves analyzing existing data and information collected by others. Both approaches have their advantages and limitations and are often used together to achieve comprehensive research outcomes and insights.

Secondary research often complements primary research by providing context, background information, and comparative data.

Researchers may use secondary data to inform the design of primary research studies, validate findings, or supplement primary data with additional insights. It relies on data sources such as books, journal articles, government reports, industry publications, market research reports, and databases.

Here are some key differences between primary and secondary research:

Data collection methods

Primary research involves gathering data through firsthand sources by directly interacting with individuals, groups, or entities relevant to the research topic. Researchers design specific methodologies and instruments to collect data that address their research objectives.

Secondary research utilizes pre-existing data and information collected by external sources, including published literature, databases, archival records, and publicly available datasets. Researchers access these sources to extract relevant information for their research purposes.


Primary research allows researchers to customize data collection methods and instruments according to the unique requirements of their study. This flexibility enables researchers to gather relevant and context-specific information tailored to their research objectives.

On the other hand, researchers have limited control over the quality, relevance, and accuracy of secondary data sources. They must critically evaluate the reliability, validity, and credibility of the data obtained from secondary sources to ensure its suitability for their research purposes.

Data Quality

Since primary research involves collecting original data, researchers have greater control over the quality and validity of the data. They can design research protocols, sampling strategies, and data collection instruments to minimize biases and errors and ensure data accuracy and reliability.

Secondary research provides access to a wide range of data sources and information repositories covering diverse topics, disciplines, and geographic regions. Researchers can access vast repositories of knowledge and information to inform their research without the need for extensive data collection efforts.

Time and Resource Intensive 

Primary research can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring careful planning, execution, and analysis. It may involve significant costs associated with participant recruitment, data collection, and analysis, particularly for large-scale studies or complex research designs.

Secondary research is often more cost-effective and time-efficient than primary research since researchers do not need to collect data from scratch. It leverages existing data sources, which are readily accessible and readily available, reducing the time and resources required for data collection.

Contextual understanding

Primary research provides researchers with a deeper understanding of the research context and allows them to explore nuances, complexities, and subtleties that may not be captured by existing data sources. It facilitates rich qualitative insights and detailed exploration of research phenomena.

Secondary research involves synthesizing, analyzing, and interpreting existing data and information to derive insights and draw conclusions. Researchers must apply rigorous analytical techniques and critical thinking skills to extract meaningful insights from secondary data sources.

Ethical considerations 

Researchers must adhere to ethical guidelines and principles when conducting primary research, particularly concerning participant confidentiality, informed consent, and data protection. Ethical considerations are paramount to ensure the rights and well-being of research participants.

This is less of an issue when it comes to secondary research. Just be sure that you’re drawing from refutable sources.

Online vs offline brand research methods

Online and offline research methods represent two distinct approaches to gathering data and conducting research. Let’s compare these two methods across various dimensions:

Data collection:

Online Research

Advantages: Online research allows for convenient data collection through digital platforms such as websites, social media, email surveys, and online questionnaires. It enables researchers to reach a large and diverse audience quickly and cost-effectively.

Limitations: Response rates may vary, and the sample may not be representative of the target population. There may be concerns regarding data privacy, security, and the authenticity of responses.

Offline Research

Advantages: Offline research involves face-to-face interactions, telephone interviews, paper surveys, and observations conducted in physical settings. It may yield higher response rates and provide opportunities for in-depth engagement and rapport building with participants.

Limitations: Offline research can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly, particularly for large-scale studies. It may also be subject to biases introduced by interviewers or observers.

Participant Reach:

Online Research

Advantages: Online research enables researchers to reach a geographically dispersed audience, including individuals from different regions, countries, and demographics. It offers the potential for global reach and access to hard-to-reach populations.

Limitations: Certain populations, such as older adults or those with limited internet access, may be underrepresented in online studies. Online surveys may also exclude individuals who are not proficient in digital technology.

Offline Research

Advantages: Offline research allows researchers to engage with participants in physical locations such as communities, workplaces, or events. It may be more suitable for reaching specific populations or groups that are not easily accessible online.

Limitations: Offline research may have limited reach beyond the immediate geographic area where data collection takes place. It may also be challenging to recruit participants from diverse backgrounds or demographics.

Response Rates

Online Research

Advantages: Online surveys and questionnaires can be distributed rapidly to a large number of respondents, potentially resulting in higher response rates compared to offline methods. Automated reminders and incentives may further enhance participation.

Limitations: Response rates for online surveys may vary based on factors such as survey length, topic relevance, and survey fatigue. Some respondents may ignore or abandon online surveys, leading to incomplete or biased data.

Offline Research

Advantages: Face-to-face interactions in offline research may lead to higher response rates as participants are more likely to engage with interviewers or observers. Personalized outreach and follow-up strategies can encourage participation and minimize non-response bias.

Limitations: Offline surveys may require more time and effort to administer, particularly if conducted in-person or via telephone. Participants may be less inclined to participate in offline surveys due to inconvenience or privacy concerns.

Data Quality

Online Research

Advantages: Online research allows for automated data collection, coding, and analysis, which can enhance data accuracy, consistency, and completeness. Digital platforms offer features such as skip logic and validation checks to minimize errors.

Limitations: Data quality in online research may be compromised by response bias, fraudulent responses, or lack of respondent attentiveness. Researchers must implement quality control measures to detect and address data integrity issues.

Offline Research

Advantages: Offline research enables researchers to directly observe participant behavior, interactions, and non-verbal cues, providing rich qualitative insights. In-depth interviews or focus groups conducted offline may yield nuanced perspectives and detailed responses.

Limitations: Data collection in offline research may be subject to interviewer bias, social desirability bias, or observer effect. Researchers must establish rapport with participants and maintain objectivity during data collection to minimize bias.

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Another great market and brand research guide by Adam erhart

Cost and resource requirements for brand research

Online Research

Advantages: Online research is often more cost-effective than offline methods, as it eliminates expenses associated with printing, postage, travel, and data entry. Researchers can leverage online survey platforms and social media (SMM) channels for relatively low-cost data collection.

Limitations: Costs may include subscription fees for survey software, advertising expenses for participant recruitment, and incentives for survey completion. Customization and advanced features may incur additional charges.

Offline Research

Advantages: Offline research may require higher upfront costs for materials, equipment, personnel, and travel expenses. However, it offers opportunities for personalized interactions and real-time data collection in diverse settings.

Limitations: Budget constraints may limit the scale and scope of offline research projects, particularly for organizations with limited resources. Researchers must carefully allocate funds to cover expenses such as participant incentives, venue rentals, and transportation.

The role of brand research across functions

Brand research provides value to various functions within an organization, from marketing and sales to product development and executive leadership. 

  • Marketing leaders – use brand research to measure their performance and allocate budgets effectively, while 
  • Sales leaders – leverage insights to improve lead quality and conversion rates.
  • Product managers – gain valuable insights into consumer preferences and market trends, guiding product development decisions
  • Executive leadership – to inform strategic decisions and shape the company’s overall direction.

Unique considerations for tech brand research

The tech industry poses unique challenges for brand research, including its rapidly evolving landscape, complex terminology, and high volume of mergers and acquisitions. 

Tech companies must act quickly on research findings and conduct research more frequently to stay ahead of the curve. More specifically, market researchers must possess a deep understanding of tech jargon and industry trends to gather meaningful insights effectively.

Brand Research: The cornerstone of your business strategy

Brand research helps you navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of consumer sentiment and market dynamics. 

By understanding your brand’s position in the market and the perceptions of their target audience, you can develop targeted strategies to enhance your brand awareness, perception, and ultimately, your bottom line. 

With the right methodologies and a clear understanding of your objectives, you can unlock the full potential of brand research and drive sustainable growth in today’s competitive marketplace.