The Brand Anniversary model

By Doron Ben-Shaul, PhD
President
Kelim-Shluvim – Branding & Consumer Insight LTD. Tel-Aviv, Israel

1. Introduction

 

In a world of rapid changes and aggressive competition, traditional research becomes less significant in strategic decision-making.  A well-performed qualitative (as well as quantitative) research can give the decision maker a good map of the past, the present status of the market and the history of consumer behavior. Yet, the decision the client needs to make refers to the future rather than to the present. In that future there are so many variables that have not appear on the stage yet, and if they did, we have no idea whether they will continue to act the same.
Research industry can proudly say that we have developed cutting-edge methods of analyzing the market and the consumer. Even more, we have developed sophisticated predicting tools based on those analyses. However, the primary mission of the research client is to create a new reality, new market, new consumer behaviors, new products and new brands. And for that mission we are becoming more and more irrelevant. In a survey conducted by Synectics (1) amongst senior and middle managers in the USA, over 80% thought that innovation was a top priority (and yet less than 10% thought that their organizations were good at it).
While we keep developing our tools of reading the past, other industries, such as business and strategic consultancy, claim to provide research clients with future planning solutions.
As qualitative researches we specialize in understanding cognitive and emotional processes that determines the consumers decision-making and behavior. Why stop with the consumer’s cognitive processes? We should ask; what tools might we use for enhancing the clients cognitive processes?  
This paper will present  'The Brand anniversary model', that combines creative thinking tools in the process of developing new brand strategies. Creative thinking tools and Jungian theory of cognitive processes are being used both in the consumer research part and in the brand-planning end of the service we provide.

2. The theoretical base of the model

 

A. Creative thinking tools & techniques

            Around the middle of the previous century theoretical attempts has been made to describe and frame in to models the cognitive process of human creativity.
            In the US, Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes developed the ‘Creative problem solving’ (CPS) (2); and George Prince established the ‘Synectics’ (3) model of creative thinking as a method. In the UK, Edward De-Bono introduced the ‘Lateral Thinking’ and the ‘Six thinking hats’ methods (4). We should also mention the ‘Mind mapping’ of Tony Buzan (5) as a widely used method in this area. And that is just a partial list.
            There is variation amongst the different methods (6). Yet we will try to emphasize the methods and characteristics that we are using in the ‘Brand anniversary model’.
            The first characteristics of creative thinking are divergent Vs convergent thinking.  Divergent thinking is the thinking outside the patterns, more known as ‘Thinking outside the box’. The human mind, for efficiency reasons, tends to use well-known patterns and creates cognitive shortcuts (heuristics) to deal with new problems. Since new problems, as future market strategies, brings unknown challenges and variables, the old thinking patterns (usually convergent) cannot provide the automatic answers they are meant to give. In order to enable people to diverge, we have to build an environment that allows such thinking to take place. In order to reach a logical business decision we need to use convergent thinking, the more analytical and end oriented thinking process.
            In eliciting divergent thinking, the different theories provide different tools and techniques, which we find useful to combine in the brand strategy development process.
            Another important character of the creative thinking process is the creative environment. The creative environment is a social state where co-thinkers differ judgment and criticism to allow each other the freedom from being ‘reasonable’ and ‘logical’ but rather be ‘absurd’ and ‘crazy’. The different theories provide many tools for creating this environment (6).
            A structured process is the basic platform for each method to take place. In the ‘Brand anniversary’ model we are using the CPS process, a six divergent-convergent steps to develop a solution for a problem, in our case, a future brand strategy.
            Many of the creative thinking theories emphasize the group process as an enhancer of innovation when is well structured. An important goal of  'The Brand anniversary model’ is using and synchronizing different professional agencies (E.g. research, advertising, promotion, PR etc), the brand caretakers (e.g. marketing, sales, production etc.) and the consumers themselves in the creation of the brand future. It is common knowledge that this synchronization is problematic because of the different motives and perspectives and the role of the different parties in the journey. C.G Jung typology theory (7), teaches us that there is more than that to understand in order to create a communicational future to a brand.

B. The Jungian theory of psychological types

 

  The Jungian theory of psychological types provides us with an understanding of how people differ in the way they prefer to express their energy, process knowledge, make decisions and organize their life. Isabelle Meyers- Briggs (8) developed the theory into a psychological test that produces four dimensions:

1. Extroversion Vs. Introversion - indicates whether ones energy is more focused towards the inner world of thoughts or towards the outer world of actions.
For example, our extravert client will rather feel and interact with the consumers, talk the report with us in a long presentation, while the introvert client will like to get the report and reflect on it by him or herself. (The same differences apply to the way the consumer prefers to interact with the brand. In this paper we will focus on the interaction with the client and in our next paper we will discuss the applications of Jung’s typology in consumer insight.)

2. Intuition Vs. Sensing  - indicates whether one prefers to process new knowledge in an abstract, conceptual way or in a tangible concrete way.
For example, our ‘intuitive’ client would rather define the future strategy in terms of possibilities and potentials whilst the ‘Sensing’ client would like to see charts and graphs, based on statistical analysis, showing the numbers that underlines the strategy.
Those differences will determine both understanding of, as well as satisfaction from, our reports and predictions.
3. Thinking Vs. Feeling  - indicates how one tends to take decisions. The ‘thinking’ type makes decisions base on logic and rational evaluation of variables. The ‘feeling’ type considers feelings, emotions and social consequences when making decisions.
For example, our ‘thinking’ client will take into consideration all empirical data and will process it by a business model in order to make a decision. Our ‘Feeling’ client would like to know if we liked the concept and if the new strategy is coherent with his/her personal values.
4. Judging Vs. Perceiving – describes the way we prefer living our life (personal as well as professional). The ‘Judging’ type prefers to plan ahead and to know what is going to be in the next step, the next day and the next year. The ‘perceiving’ type feels more comfortable with living the options open, experiencing the world as it happens and respond to opportunities as they arrive.
For example, our ‘Judging’ client will want to know what exactly are the outputs of the research, what we expect from consumers to tell us, and how it is going to help him/her to come up with a strategy. Our ‘Perceiving’ client would love to use new experimental research methodologies and would feel inconvenience about having a long-term research plan that cannot be easily changed.

            'The Brand anniversary model' is using this insight on human cognitive processes to provide clients with more efficient tools to develop their brand strategy.

 

C. The consumer as a creative thinker

 
A common belief amongst researchers is that consumers will respond to a new stimulus according to their existing knowledge. Therefore, future actions and creations (such as new concepts, innovative design or even new products) might get negative reactions from consumers in research environment but be a great success when actually launched.
            We believe this is true when we put the consumer in a judging position. Yet take the consumer and give him the mission of creating a new future to a brand, and you will get a new, deep consumer insight. Also you will be getting a great tool to predict future acceptance of new strategies as well as tactics.
Using the creative thinking tools and applying them to consumer research interactions, 'The Brand anniversary model’ is making the consumer a full partner in the process of creating the brand future and a significant contributor to it.

 

 


3. The ‘Brand anniversary’ process

            The title 'The Brand anniversary model’ implies that the process suggested here is not an every-day research and should be used in significant milestones of the brand’s life. The process demands management time resources, emotional and professional client commitment and sophisticated consumer interaction design.

Figure 1 – the brand anniversary flow chart

 

 

 

Pre-process – team types diagnosis

Objectives:
The objective of this phase is to establish a creative environment based on the unique cognitive stile of each team member and the common cognitive stile in the brand team.
 Method:
Each team member is taking the MBTI™ (9) test and her/his cognitive preferences are considered in building the process. The strategic creative thinking workshops are build in a way that will address the cognitive needs of each team member and develops an environment that enables each creative voice to be heard effectively (10). The MBTI™ provides us a tool to identify the common cognitive style in the group. Understanding this way of thinking enables us to guide the group into areas that are naturally ignored. When we have the mandate to select and build the team, we would use the team building applications of the Jungian theory, like interaction styles based on David Kersey’s theory (11) and MTR-I ™ (12).

Phase 1 - Drawing the path

            Objectives:
            The objective of this phase is to

  1. Set a clear definition of the brand’s challenges and goals in the near future.
  2. Help the client determine what are the answers research should provide to the decision making team.
  3. Define current and future target audience

Method:
A creative thinking workshop that focuses on the 3 first steps of the Osborn-   Parnes model:

  1. Objective finding
    Diverging with creative brainstorming to define the brand’s targets from new and different angles
    converging into a clear and consensual decision on what is the future target of the brand.
  2. Fact finding
    identifying the major factors that are relevant to achieving the target defined.
    Divergent will produce a large number of facts. The converging process will focus the brand team on the most important and relevant facts whilst putting aside the irrelevant ‘noise’ of the less significant facts.
  3. Problem definition
    the problem definition is the part where we identify and mark the main challenge the brand is facing. In other words; what is in the way between the brand and the target defined.
    Diverging is important in this part because of the tendency to fight marketing wars with familiar tools. A traditional definition might be; ‘In what ways can we make a more creative advertising’. yet sometimes the problem is ‘how can we meet our consumer in his every day life’.

Participants:
2 facilitators 
6-9 of brand caretakers – client and communication agencies

Duration:
 5-12 hours
Depends on complexity of brand and environment at the given time.

Phase 2 – Mapping the battlefield 

            Objectives:
            The objective of this phase is to collect empirical data on:

  1. Consumer buying behavior
  2. Current brand relationships with consumers (perceptions, attitudes, believes)
  3. Market trends and competitors actions
  4. Creating an empirical base for innovative future strategies

Method:
Basic consumer behavior research
a. Qualitative (focus groups, depth interviews)
b. Quantitative (telephone or field survey on a represantative sample).
            Duration:
 Depends on the current knowledge of the client and the quality and quantity of the research work that has been done. In some cases, this phase might not be necessary.  

Phase 3 – Visioning the future 

            Objectives:

The objective of this phase is to create optional future directions for the brand beyond the natural development and the marketing maintenance required. The starting point of creating the brand’s future is the map that was established on phase 2. Those directions might be new products, extensions to new categories, approaching new target audience, new brand personality/values/promise etc.
The creative environment created by the moderator’s tools & techniques enhances the probability of such new options to come up. Knowing that this is only a phase in 'The Brand anniversary model’ provides the decision maker with a ‘Moratorium’ from being prudence and calculated and therefore more open to innovative strategies.  

Method:
Preliminary Idea finding - brainstorming
a creative thinking workshop that focuses on future possibilities and breakthrough strategies for the brand.
A divergent thinking process based on well-planned creative techniques that will manipulate the thinking process of the team members and will assist them to brake out of thinking patterns.  

 Participants:
2 facilitators 
6-9 of brand caretakers – client and communication agencies

Duration:
6-8 hours
           

Phase 4 – consumers’ creative angle

            Objectives:
            The objective of this phase is to

  1. Look at the future through consumers eyes
  2. Use the consumer as an active partner in the process of crating the brand’s future.
  3. Test preliminary concepts that the team would like to develop

Method:
This phase is based on a 4 hours workshop with the brand target audience. Building the workshop go through: 

    1. Recruitment of consumers:
      the participants of the consumer creative workshop are selected by telephone interviews according to the following screening variables:
      1. Being target audience of the brand
      2. Openness and verbal fluency
      3. Basic creativity test
    2. The workshop structure
      1. First part of it is going with the consumers’ through the worlds of motivations and associations related to the human psychological and physiological needs that the brand claims to fulfill
      this part takes about 1 hour
      2. Second part contains a group and individual creation of future            solutions to the desired satisfactions they are looking for. The consumers may be directed towards specific areas of solutions as new products, new emotional gratifications or any other direction the team wants to emphasize.
      This part takes about 2 hours

3.The last part is testing the innovative concepts developed by the brand team with the consumers.
In this stage, the consumers are in a very creative state of mind, very much into the brand’s emotional and functional world and therefore very much open-minded to look at future concepts in a futuristic manner. This part takes about 1 hour

    1. Analyzing the workshop outcomes and dynamics. 
      A trained psychologist analyzes the videotapes of the workshop. A summary report is presented in a creative way (see appendix).   The consumer’s future needs and the likelihood of new strategies to be successful is being estimated.

 

 

 

Phase 5 – planning the brand’s future 

           
Objectives:
The objective of this phase is to build from the materials produced by the team and by the consumers.
The well-inspected creative ideas are to become an actual strategic plan.

Method:
This phase is based on the 3 last stages of the Osborn-Parnes CPS model:

  1. Idea finding - brainstorming
    repeating the brainstorming process of phase 3, but with a better sensing and knowledge about consumer’s reaction to future concepts.
    This part may bring up new innovative strategies immerging from the interaction with the consumers.
  2. Solution finding – focusing and developing strategies
    identifying the strengths and weaknesses of promising strategies. Deciding which strategy to use.
  3. Acceptance Finding
    developing an action plan for the strategy by going through all steps to be taken, all resources required, people to be involved, obstacles to over come and selling the new strategy to the senior decision makers.

    
 Participants:
2 facilitators 
6-9 of brand caretakers – client and communication agencies

Duration:
1-2 days

 

 

Summary 

'The Brand anniversary model' is an innovative model that uses psychological tools not only for understanding the consumer insight but also to generate a strategic thinking process amongst the brand caretakers. The model is based on the thesis that future strategies are to be created rather than analyzed. The model gives the consumer a new part in the brand strategy process, not just a passive resource of behavioral knowledge but also rather a full partner in the creation of brand-consumer relationships.

The main advantages of the model as we see them are;

  1. Structuring a creative environment that allows innovative strategies to develop and to be applied.
  2. Combining the understanding of the present with the creation of the future 
  3. A deeper involvement of the client in the process of gathering consumer    insight.  This involvement enables the researcher to use more of the clients experience and intuitions in planning, gathering and analyzing the data. 
  4. A deeper involvement of the research agency in the process of building brand-consumer relationships. This involvement enables the client to use more of the researcher’s experience, intuitions and familiarity with the consumer in the planning of future brand strategies. 
  5. Builds a long term commitment between research agency and client, a commitment that emerges from the joint responsibility to the brand strategy
  6.  Expanding the benefits the client can get from the knowledge we have in human behavior
  7. Giving the client a more comprehensive solution to her/his needs in building, maintaining and developing brand-consumer relationships

We believe that providing tools for strategic thinking is a natural and even essential development of the research industry. We also believe that the strategic focus of our industry should remain the understanding of human behavior and the knowledge of how to direct it. 

 

 

 

References  

  1. http://www.synecticsworld.com
  2. Parnes, S,J. (2002) Source Book for Creative Problem Solving: A Fifty Year Digest of Proven Innovation Processes
  3. Synectics (1993). Succeeding At Innovation: The Synectics Report on Creativity and Innovation in U.S. Corporations.
  4. de-Bono, E. Serious creativity. HarperCollins, New York, 1992.
     
  5. Buzan, T. (1991). The mind map book. New York: Penguin
  6. Gonzales, D. Behind the curtain; unveiling the wizardry of popular creativity methods. Think communications. Evenston, IL, 2002. 
  7.  Jung, C. (1971). Psychological types. (H. G. Baynes, Trans., revision by R. F. C. Hull), The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 6). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1921
  8. Berens, L, V. Nardi, D. (1999) The 16 Personality Types, Descriptions for Self-Discovery. Telos Pubns .
  9. Myers, I.B, McCaulley, M.H., Quenk, N.I, & Hammer, A.L. (1998) MBTI Manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
  10. Segal, M. (2001). Creativity and personality Type: Tools for understanding and inspiring the many voices of creativity. Huntington Beach, CA: Telos Publications.
  11. Hirsh, S.& Kimmerow, J. (1993). Introduction to Type in Organizations, 3rd Edition. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.
  12. Meyers, S,P.(2000)  Management team role indicator. The test agency ltd, UK

 

 

 


Appendix – creative summary report
As part of the creative approach to the whole process of the brand anniversary model, the summary report of the workshop outcomes is presented in a unique creative way, which take into consideration the differences between people in their way of dealing and processing information.
In general, the report is created in three dimensions: the psychological dimension, the visual dimension and the theoretical dimension. Each dimension designed to give a different perspective of the outcomes. Each dimension is designate for different way of processing information.
The psychological dimension – describes the database and the insights from the workshop. It is written in a simple but professional language, yet not a complicate-academic one. It takes the reader to a “verbal journey” into the consumer mind and thoughts.
The visual dimension – describes the consumer’s insights using pictures and colors, which express the consumer’s feelings, thoughts and perceptions, and accompanied by participant’s quotations. It takes the reader to a “visual-emotional journey” of understanding the outcomes of the process.
The theoretical dimension – gives theoretical insights about the outcomes. It can be a short description of a theory, which related to the outcomes or a different interpretation of the picture. It gives the reader a wider perspective on the outcomes.
By combining these dimensions, we create a full experience of the whole process; so all processors of the information would find their path of understanding and sensing the outcomes.