From the Desk of Michael Boumendil, Part 1: A Look at How Research Can Go Right and Wrong


by Sixième Son

It’s true that research can be a critical component in guiding the right brand marketing strategies. It can lead you to improve your connection to your audience, or it can reassure you that your current strategy is right and that you’re not making mistakes. But when it comes to sonic identity, I’ve started to see problems with some of the research conducted today:

  1.  Over-indexing on likeability. I always like to say, people won’t like anything new more than they like what they already like. With music, people initially like what sounds familiar. The problem is, this doesn’t leave much room for anything fresh and unusual. And if nothing’s new, how can you expect to stand out? If you choose to be bold, you have reason to be confident that people will like your sound more and more as they get used to it.
  2. Asking the wrong questions. There are a few that I find dangerous in the info-gathering process when it comes to gauging perceptions of sonic branding: 
    • Do you like the sonic branding? 
    • Does it fit your taste?
    • Does it match your perception of the brand?

The problem with questions like these is that they lead to sticking to the status quo. Customers are not CMOs; they are not stewards of your brand strategy, don’t ask them to validate your intentions to innovate. Frame your questions to them as customers, not as experts.

  1. Expecting research to absolve you of taking risks. Too often, when it comes to sonic branding, companies commission research that reinforces existing beliefs, because when people feel reassured, they don’t have to take risks. In my career, I can tell you this has often been the rule, not the exception. You should be conducting research that reveals areas of new opportunity. Ultimately, you’re trying to forge new connections for your brand, and that’s going to require taking chances based on new research findings.

Seek out the research that doesn’t reassure you, because if your decision doesn’t change anything, is it actually effective? Research should not become a summary of what the brand has done before, nor should it tap into the opinions of people who have previously liked your brand.

You should conduct research about things you have doubts about to guide you in making more informed decisions. But the research should not make the decision.

Branding is a way for us to push further into nurturing our relationships with consumers. Playing it safe is the riskiest choice. 

© Photo by Richard Horvath on Unsplash