Q&A with Lucy Davison, founder and managing director, Keen as Mustard Marketing

Editor’s note: Lucy Davison is the founder and managing director of Keen as Mustard Marketing. Davison has been in the MR industry for about 30 years.

What is the No. 1 mistake you see in the marketing research and insights industry when it comes to branding? What is the first step companies should take to fix it?    

The top mistake we see in branding for insights firms is choosing to work with a brand or design agency that doesn’t understand MRX, often because they think there is value in getting an ‘external perspective.’ They forget that it takes a long time to bring a non-specialist agency to the level they need, to be able to create a valuable, distinctive brand. Not only do they not get the value of what we do in insights, but these branding agencies often put their junior teams on projects - insights agencies frequently don’t have the scale and the budgets to compete with other clients - and they fail to understand the crucial differences in offer and methodologies. When insight firms hire these agencies, the results are superficial and generic - lightbulb logos and straplines all about growth or vision. These solutions are like lipstick on a gorilla. They fail to communicate the essential philosophy or point of view of an insights firm – only someone with an in-depth understanding of the industry can do this. 

An easy first step is to speak to a company with a track record of successful branding experience within insights.

Share your top three tips for maintaining brand consistency throughout a business.  

First, ensure high internal engagement in your branding journey: involve people from all teams and levels. Run workshops in key markets and take on their feedback. Giving people ownership of the process in this way will make people brand ambassadors - proud of the work they have done with the brand and ensuring success. 

Second, once your new brand is born, focus on and prioritize internal communication. Of course, you need to have developed a strong brand identity which is engaging, different and stays top of mind. But then make sure you communicate this brilliantly to the whole organization. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Make sure everyone gets consistent messaging and shouts it from the rooftops. Keep feeding your stakeholders so they grow your brand. 

Finally, make it easy. There are too many platforms and systems to mention that make it super stress-free to give everyone involved the templates, materials, content, visual guides, resources library and to explain the rationale and logic behind your brand. Doing so will make sure people know the right thing to do for the brand, and your company will benefit.

Where should a company start when launching a rebranding exercise?  

At Mustard Towers, we have a tried and tested FAME framework to define the purpose of a branding exercise and create the parameters of what success will look like. 

  • Foundation. 
  • Audience. 
  • Marketing.
  • Execution. 

Foundation: Think of a building, no foundation and the rest of your hard work will just crumble. Use client and stakeholder interviews, keyword research and competitor analysis to ensure differentiation. Workshop your vision, values, personality and tone of voice. Drill into your business philosophy and offer in order to create a brand that is honest and grounded in what you do.

Audience: Who are your ideal clients and why? Use this knowledge to create a compelling and motivating value proposition, which can in turn be used to create a creative brief for all subsequent creative work from name generation to visual identity, templates and web design. 

The Marketing stage is focused on the design and articulation of your brand. Be differentiated in your design as well as your thinking. No lightbulbs, no brains, no question marks. Have a clear message which is different from the rest of the industry. 

Execution: Here’s where you implement your branding on all your channels and assets, from your website to social media to your email signature.

How can marketing research firms increase brand recognition? 

To increase brand recognition you need to be different, and you need to focus on building awareness. If you work in marketing, hopefully you are aware of “The Long and the Short of it,”the seminal work by Binet and Field which demonstrated that 60% of your marketing should be long-term brand building and 40% sales activation. This has now been superseded by work Professor John Dawes from the University of South Australia and Ehrenberg Bass, which says that in a B2B environment, that ratio should be more like 95:5. 

“Up to 95% of business clients are not in the market for many goods and services at any one time,” said Dawes. This “deceptively simple fact,” has profound implications for marketing in insights, because most of the marketing we do hits buyers who aren’t going to buy anytime soon. So, most of our direct response, sales and lead generating marketing is worthless, unless it is tied to a strong brand. This makes differentiation all the more important, because marketing works by “building and refreshing memory links to the brand. These memory links activate when buyers do come into the market.” The better you are at building brand-relevant memories, the more effective your marketing becomes. To create a strong brand, you need to be memorable. To be memorable you need to be different. 

But being different is only the first part of the equation – unless you are continually raising your profile, reaching out and building awareness across multiple channels, ensuring you are constantly renewing those memory links in the minds of your audience, your brand will wither.