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Research as the foundation of building iconic brands

Comprehensive strategies for client, competitor, and market research

Mayya Profile 24

Have you ever encountered a problem that seemed unresolvable, leaving you feeling frustrated and desperate for a solution? Despite your best efforts to resolve it alone, you found yourself completely lost. Then, when you looked for assistance, you might have been surprised by the seemingly magical abilities of the person who came to help. Yet, upon closer examination, you discovered:

Their approach relied on common practices and methods, revealing that effective problem-solving often stems from tried-and-true techniques.

Research continues to be the foundation of design-project progress. Regardless of enhancements, updates, or modifications to our project approaches, it is always the tried-and-tested methods of research, along with established practices, that initiate any new activity. Branding and strategy are no different. To gain the necessary overview of why we do what we do, what we need, and what we want to achieve, comprehensive research, based on project needs, is crucial. This article is designed to assist you in planning, structuring, and executing overall research to gain deeper insights into your competitors, market, and potential or current customers.

In our studio, every new branding project starts with what we call a “Brand Insights Board.” This document serves as a comprehensive summary for our research, guiding us throughout the process. It contains details about the market, audience, and competitors, as well as main objectives, challenges, and advantages. Are you curious what your Brand Insights Board could include? Take the brand insights quiz to get your results in just 2 minutes!

Why do research?

We are planning an exciting trip to Asia. We are going to be on the road for about three months, exploring numerous countries. This trip will require careful consideration and preparation to be successful. The branding process is similar: it’s a journey with a destination in mind, where we must plan, set out goals, and anticipate any challenges along the way.

Without a doubt, research is the cornerstone of branding and design. After all, how can we expect to achieve exceptional results if we’re uncertain about our objectives or unaware of the obstacles we may encounter?

That’s why we should approach this journey with enthusiasm and dedication, ensuring we make the most of our efforts in our branding process!

Research as foundation_Research basics

Research basics

Before delving into the various categories we would like to research, it’s essential to grasp the diverse methods and established practices available. Understanding the approaches is key to effective research. Broadly, there are two main approaches for data collection: qualitative and quantitative methods.

Qualitative methods involve gathering non-numerical data—focusing on insights, opinions, and experiences. Examples are one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and observations.

Quantitative methods include numerical data collection, emphasizing statistical analysis and numerical representation. Surveys, experiments, and content analysis are common quantitative research methods.

Moreover, research can involve primary data collection, where information is gathered firsthand, or secondary research, which utilizes existing data sources such as reports, articles, and databases. Both primary and secondary research offer valuable insights; that’s why, by understanding the different methods, you can effectively plan and meet the specific objectives of your project.

Research as foundation_Research in three steps

Research in three “easy” steps

Step one: define the brief and objectives

Start by drafting the project brief. What is the core objective of the project? Be sure to highlight the desired results and challenges that the branding efforts have to address. Engage with all stakeholders involved in the project to ensure a comprehensive understanding of all perspectives from key figures within the company.

Step two: ask the 5 W’s

The greater the specificity of your objectives and problem statements, the more streamlined and comprehensive your research plan becomes. This precision not only facilitates problem-solving but also fosters creativity in coming up with solutions. As Simon Sinek famously stated:

“Start with why.”

Why?—Why are we doing this project? What is the purpose of it?

Who?—Who are the key stakeholders and external parties that should be involved? Whose approval or management is necessary for success?

What?—What are we hoping to achieve with this work? What defines success for this project?

When?—When are the project’s flexible and final deadlines?

Where?—Where will the project take place, and where do we expect to see the results?

And let’s not forget the critical question of How—How can we best tackle the challenges and attain our goals? Often overlooked, this addresses the strategies and methods required to achieve our objectives effectively.

Step three: plan your research

Now that we clarified our objectives, it’s time to develop our research strategy. First we need to determine what specific information we aim to uncover through our research. Next we’ll explore the methods available to us and decide where we will conduct our research. At this stage, it’s crucial to realistically assess our resources and capabilities, ensuring that our plans align with what is feasible and achievable.

Research as foundation_Choose your tools

Choose your tools

By now we’ve progressed in the project and have a clear understanding of our goals. Now it’s time to strategize our qualitative and quantitative research methods. Below are examples of each:

Qualitative methods

  • Field studies are great way to immerse yourself in the environment being studied to understand the social phenomena.
  • Case studies help examine a particular case in depth to paint a broader conclusion.
  • Narrative analysis, or the analysis of stories, can help understand meaning and interpretation.
  • Content analysis, in text or visual form, helps us understand patterns, trends, and themes.
  • Diaries or journals of participants—where they can record their experience, behaviors, and thoughts over time—help us gain valuable insights into the daily lives, behaviors, and emotions of the participants directly from their perspective.
  • Interviews conducted in natural settings help us understand cultural and individual perspectives.
  • Emails, phone interviews, or interest groups help remotely reach out to interviewees.
  • Visual-media research, like images or video, help to capture and understand cultural practices.
  • Historical research studies help understand and evaluate past events and documents to identify trends and historical context.


Quantitative methods

  • Surveys are standardized documents, like questionnaires, used to collect data from a large sample of respondents.
  • Secondary data analysis is about researching already existing materials collected by other companies, data bases, or the internet to gather insights.
  • Social media, website performance, and online research platforms help gather observations and records of behaviors in natural or controlled settings.
  • Statistical modeling is using mathematical models to analyze data and make predictions.

You can choose to apply one or multiple research methods to ensure comprehensive data collection specific to your project requirements. When conducting customer, market, and competitor research, utilizing a diverse selection of methods can enhance the effectiveness of your approach by leveraging a range of resources for optimal insights. So don’t be afraid to combine different approaches.

Research as foundation_Gather data

Gather data about your audience, market, and competitors, and analyze it with research

Conduct the research

We have arrived at the substantive phase of our research: we’ve strategically planned, and now it’s time to execute. Begin by implementing the selected research methods and follow your plan. This step demands attention to detail and strategic insights. Read further to discover how to navigate it effectively across all of the three categories: audience, market, and competitors.

  • Audience—Engage with your current or potential customers through surveys, interviews, or observational techniques to gather valuable insights into their preferences, behaviors, and needs.
  • Market—Understand the market conditions by analyzing industry trends, consumer demographics, and emerging opportunities.
  • Competitors—Explore competitors’ strategies, products, and positioning to identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential gaps in the market.


Once the data is captured, it’s essential to organize and prepare it for analysis. This is the pivotal moment to transform raw data into valuable insights!

Analyze the findings

This step is tricky because after investing significant time in research, it’s crucial to extract meaning from it. Organize and categorize the gathered data systematically to facilitate analysis.

  • Patterns and trends are hidden in your gathered qualitative and quantitative findings. Uncover the correlations within the data.
  • Identify themes, insights, actionable takeaways to audience preferences, market dynamics, and competitor positioning.
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to assess internal capabilities and external factors impacting the brand strategy.
      • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the brand, including its products/services, resources, and organizational capabilities.
      • Explore opportunities in the market landscape, like trends, untapped market segments, or potential collaborations.
      • Evaluate threats posed by competitors, market fluctuations, regulatory changes, or other external factors that may impact the brand’s success.
  • Compare and contrast findings to gain a holistic understanding of the branding landscape.
  • Interpret the data
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to validate the findings and gather outcomes.


By incorporating the SWOT analysis into this step, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your core capabilities and all of the external dynamics, which will ultimately result in a robust branding strategy.

Iterate and redo research

Unfortunately, the research is not always finished after the initial methods are carried out. Sometimes it’s necessary to iterate and revisit the collected data. This is where the scope of the initial findings may expand. Refine any research methods, hypotheses, and questions based on your insights. Stakeholders and team members can provide valuable feedback to enrich the analysis.

Research as foundation_Cultural relevance

Easy overview with a Brand Insights Board

As previously mentioned, here at GEOBO, we gather all research findings into a single, easy-to-understand document called a Brand Insights Board. This one-page document provides a comprehensive overview of all essential research details, enabling you to tailor your decision and branding efforts effectively. The purpose of this document is to facilitate easy reference to the findings and ensure alignment with the initial objectives throughout the project.

The Brand Insights Board includes vital information about your audience, market, competitors, and primary objectives. It emphasizes that all brand decisions are contextualized within specific needs and market conditions. Any strategies developed in subsequent process steps will be informed by your board.

Congratulations, you’ve reached the end! The better you manage your research process, the better your outcomes will be. Consider this step not only as a means to achieve success but also as integral to proper project planning. When executed correctly, it ensures that you address the right problems, achieve the desired results, and allocate your budget effectively.

To create your own Brand Insights Board, simply fill out the form to download a free PDF document.

Thank you for reading! 💜

Are you looking for guidance on how to build your brand? We have developed an easy-to-follow ICONIC method to help create your brand both strategically and visually. Are you ready to redefine your brand’s destiny and become an icon in the world of fashion tech and creative tech? Your brand’s iconic status awaits.