Strategic Thinking
Creative Thinking

Starting strategy without research? Why that’s a recipe for brand disaster

Published on

June 29, 2023


Image of the word brand with small text and images around it

You’re in the thick of it. Maybe you’re the founder of a brand or product and you have decades of experience within the industry. Or maybe you’re an agency pro or long-time brand manager who’s been building brands and shooting out successful campaigns for years, jumping into a new brand or role.

Surely that means you’ve got a gut feeling worth listening to when it comes to marketing your brand to consumers? In fact, it could be quite the opposite. And following feelings or relying on past performance could be your downfall. 

Without allowing yourself proper brand research and diagnosis before you start a strategy, you’re flying blind and could rush into some bad choices. 

Research is core to the Bray St process. We insist on deep dives with every partner, whether they’re an old brand or new. Here’s why it’s vital to give yourself adequate time for research and brand diagnosis before you even think about touching strategy. 


1. You are not the consumer

If you make the product or deliver the service, you are not the consumer. Maybe you were once and that’s what sparked your business idea, when you have a special insight into a particular pain point of the industry or market segment and thought, “ah, I have a solution!”

It’s a mistake to assume you automatically know what will hit a specific segment at this point in time. Industries move fast, consumer interests, trends and demographics change, you’ve got to stay on your toes – and stay humble. 

It doesn’t matter how much a campaign or creative spin excites you personally. The fact is, you’re not selling to yourself. You’re selling to them. And if you’re in the organisation or agency land, most likely you’re different from the demographics of your target consumer or segments. 

2. Data-driven decisions aren’t just buzzwords

We love data at Bray St, and it’s a key part of our process. Marketing doesn’t function on instinct, but data. It’s the best way of separating your own inherent biases, feelings and knee-jerk assumptions from the equation.

No matter what industry our brand partner is working in, we assume from the start we don’t already know everything – but we have ways of finding out.

Data can show you the exact demographics of your target market, what they’re doing and buying, what they care about, and so on. If you’ve got very good data, you can even drill down into how much they are motivated by factors like sustainability and ethical brand values. This in turn can inform how much weight you place on that in your brand messaging and core identity.

Without these granular insights, how can you expect to cut through the noise and let people know that YOUR brand is exactly what they want?


3. Market orientation is your best weapon – whatever stage your brand is at

Market orientation is foundational for current marketing best practice. No brand or agency should be without it – and before you make any new choices or take any steps, always research, even if your brand has been around for years. It might have been a long time (if ever) since someone’s taken a hard, fresh look at where your brand stands.

And you don’t stop with that one-off diagnosis. With a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, including historical data and past campaigns, you can build a picture of your brand in the eyes of loyal consumers and target markets. Then you’ve got something you can survey, act on and measure again down the line to see how you’re performing.


4. It’s not just the people – it’s the landscape

Know your competitor!

Knowing what other brands are doing in this space and where they cross over is critical to defining your offering and USP, being able to sell it to that target market and being able to sell it differently enough that it has cut-through and makes them take notice. 

Positioning your brand in the landscape is fundamental to strategy - and you may be surprised at who you’re really up against.

5. Research gives you perspective - and keeps you humble

Your brand seems like your baby - but it’s not special. We overestimate the mental real estate a brand takes up in a consumer’s world. It’s important to keep a realistic, objective, even cynical, view of your brand - and research can give you that reality check.

Of course, the insights of your brand loyalists are vital for research and diagnosis, but they’re also non-representative of the wider market segment. If you just talk to people who love the brand, you’ll stay in your own echo chamber of positives - and you’ll miss out on seeing the true potential of your brand.

Where does a winning strategy start at Bray St.? With a diagnosis - always.

We won't tell you what to do until we understand exactly who you are as a business and where your brand stands. Even when we know the industry like the back of our hand, we can't give you robust strategy and cut-through creative without this solid groundwork. Talk to us. We'll uncover the insights you need to drive your brand forward

written by

Daniel Dagher

Founder and Client Director

Bray St.

Become a Bray St. brand and choose long-term success
We partner with brands we believe in, whatever your stage of growth. If we've found each other, then we share the same vision.
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