Brand Doctors - Consultants in Brand and Communications Research

Confidence should be an objective,
not a by-product of research

Getting senior ‘buy in’ is a key role for research and research managers. Ensuring the research method is robust and reporting directional and supportive is critical. We have a great track record in evaluating (and helping agencies in developing) financial services communications (through the line, whichever media channels you favour).

Confident decisions may require talking to differing ‘target groups’ depending upon your concerns. We conduct work amongst customers, staff; operations and commercial partners. Seeing a transaction or process from alternate perspectives often creates the opportunity to streamline, focus and reallocate activity and reduce costs, such as researching traders, or, financial advisers, tied or whole market, and their customers. Working on RDR over the last 2 years and understanding the needs of IFAs etc. has allowed our clients to reduce literature, not just electronically but by looking closely at ‘must haves’, versus ‘fluff’. Some of our other clients face financial decisions where research can illuminate too; pricing, price acclimatisation etc.

‘Clear, cool and minty debriefs versus indifference
to research’

‘If I Only Had 5 Minutes’ is our summary for senior management short on time. It is one of our well-regarded solutions to the realities of corporate life. We provide management with short clear directional briefings as well as other accessible formats; DVD/filmic offerings or, ‘magazine- like‘ reports for staff groups. Understanding our clients needs and problems is our focus not just the research itself.'

Current issues facing our industry and within our experience:

We conduct research for providers and institutions of many sorts, we are brand and communication specialists not product specialists.

Of late we have been working with AXA, Prudential amongst others but we also have worked with a wide range of financial brands.

We have noticed some trends in research commissioning;

‘Selling when you are telling’. Getting long terms customers to ‘Wake-up and invest’; Typically Below the Line DM has been information and legal based but the opportunity is there to design copy to awaken key customer groups. Despite the unwarranted criticism of Direct Mail, ‘Junk Mail has huge potential. Subtly ‘embedding messages’ within ‘informational documents’ is increasing as a tactic. Differing letter and design styles too can offer new ways of engagement.

Mini Focus Groups & ‘Flock’ Focus Groups (where all know one another personally or professionally) and Depth interviews tend to be the primary methodologies deployed for such detailed work.

This kind of work identifies positive and encouraging copy styles and messages offering ‘under the radar’ potentially ‘more activating’ messages.

‘Are we selling the right way?’ Customer, Sales and Adviser Evaluation.

The sales and customer interface is fast becoming ‘this years model’ in terms of marketing (and HR focus, since recruiting the right Adviser types is key too). Looking at how the two groups see each other and react to the ‘sales and fact finding process’ is increasingly important. We have looked at such issues for other commercial organisations using focus groups with customers about brand decisions, and their recent sales experience followed by depth interviews and focus groups with a range of sales personnel about the ‘process’ and procedure used and its brand impact. This also allowed exploration of the sales personnel motives in choosing career/job and its impact upon their ‘success’.

Such work has delivered ‘big findings’ i.e. the opportunity to ‘bridge the gap’ between customers and sales personnel, without sacrificing commercial consumer and brand values. Often many fear this is insurmountable especially within the organisation.

‘Seeing the future, how people plan their wealth’

Work amongst day traders, hobby and serious investors as well as less savvy folk. ‘How do they see the future is a typical investment product brief;’ We often get investors to literally draw their ‘plans and investment maps’; this left field technique really sidesteps some of the talk and unearths how differently and how complex some see the markets and their choices. It thus delivers a clear brief as to how to position a new service or brand activity.

We find that focus groups and depth interviews with ‘traders’; looking at the role of information sources, brokers, services and communications across businesses really provides stimulating findings; and makes really good group viewing since they are often so opinionated! Senior clients can find these the most nourishing if frustrating viewing.

‘Most research companies will diligently report what respondents have said in response to their probing. Brand Doctors are among the few that will also explain how they reacted, what they felt and what this might mean for your business. Besides, research and insight is not the same thing. An insight is a revealing and a new or forgotten truth. Which is what Brand Doctors bring to the party’.
Michael Ellyatt
Head of Brand and Creative Services, Prudential

‘Chris Payne and the Brand Doctors always provide us with strong insightful research. He challenges our thinking and our agencies thinking whilst protecting our ideas in their delicate growth stage. He is extremely credible both with internal stakeholders and our other agencies and delivers research insights with authority.'
Mike Greenup
VP Brand Management, Holiday Inn Brand Family
Europe, InterContinental Hotels Group