Should Insight Communities Be Branded or Unbranded?

Once you’ve determined that an insight community is a valuable piece of your research strategy that will either replace or complement your traditional market research, you need to determine the goals of the community, member composition, and how it will be branded (positioned to the members.) Some of the first decisions you’ll need to make are what your overall goals are for the community, where you’re going to recruit your community members, and if your insight community is going to be branded or unbranded.

Ultimately, an insight community is going to be valuable whether it’s branded or unbranded, and the choice you make is dependent on your needs and objectives.

Branded or Unbranded?

A branded online insight community means that the members of your community – usually your customers –  know to which company they are providing feedback. Your logo may be prominently displayed and the overall look and feel may match or emulate your brand.

One reason to use a branded insight community is that the transparency allows you to show company concepts in their final form. You can present and even test for actual product names, packaging materials, and updates or improvements to existing products. You can also show marketing materials such as commercials, print ads, or banner ads and get actionable feedback on real campaign ideas and concepts.

A reason to use an unbranded community (also called a blind community) is when a company’s primary objectives are to obtain feedback from the overall market and not just owners of a company’s brand. Another scenario is a parent company choosing an unbranded insight community when it is running research for multiple brands that aren’t necessarily linked in the eyes of consumers.

Therefore, an advantage to creating an unbranded insight community is that it can provide a more market representative population. These will be members who use or have an interest in your products and solutions, but who may or may not already be happy and loyal customers of your company. This is an opportunity to get feedback from fresh eyes who aren’t familiar with your products and solutions.

How to Decide Between a Branded or Unbranded Insight Community

When it comes time to decide between a branded or unbranded insight community, start by determining the objectives of the community. Are you looking to crowdsource ideas from some of your company’s current customers? Do you want to get feedback from customers who are familiar with your brand and who use your products and solutions regularly?

Before you start any research initiative you have to first know what you are going to do with the data that you gather. Who are your stakeholders who will be reviewing the reports and how will you characterize the results of the data to them?

Another factor to consider is what kind of materials or information you will be showing the community members.  If you are regularly showing concepts in which it is obvious to customers that it is your brand, then it probably makes sense to just be transparent and brand with the company identity.

Finally, you may find that the option to have one of each – both a branded and an unbranded insight community – is the best fit for your needs. Some companies like the advantage of having a branded community to evaluate their new products and marketing concepts in a transparent way, while also having an unbranded community to explore consumer opinion with the broader market.

The Final Decision: Branded or Unbranded Insight Community?

The decision of whether to have a branded or unbranded insight community is an important one that should be entered into in a mindful manner. You can secure great insights with either approach. In addition, insight communities evolve just as companies’ objectives and priorities do. So, it is not uncommon to see companies change their approach in the longer term to fit their needs.

My-Take is a greater Boston based insight and marketing technology company that can help your company make smarter decisions and market your products and solutions more effectively based on feedback from powerful online insight communities and panels. If you have questions about whether you should assemble a branded or unbranded insight community, or if you have general questions about insight communities and how they can help your company deliver more value to your customers, click here to request a free consultation.

Posted by My Take