Most companies now realise that they need to understand and manage their external brand/corporate image. On a basic level this would include knowing awareness levels, but most studies probe much deeper than that and explore brand perceptions and associations.

Brand/corporate imagery is a strategic issue, usually with change being planned over a 3-5 year period. For this reason, many companies commission an annual study in order to assess what change has been achieved over the previous year.

The usual technique is to use a qualitative survey (focus groups and/or depth interviews) to identify the range of image attributes that are linked to the client’s product (or company) and those of their competitors, and to obtain consensus on which dimensions are of particular importance to customers, and which drive the client’s (and their competitors’) brand.

After assessing the qualitative results, quantitative fieldwork is usually then commissioned to provide robust data on client/competitor imagery, and to identify their respective strengths and weaknesses.

In some cases, a powerful statistical technique called “regression analysis” can be conducted to determine which client/competitor attributes are the drivers of (for example) brand preference. This kind of knowledge can (for example) be used to build an advertising/communication strategy, or to develop specific tactics to address a specific competitive threat.