A couple of weeks ago, I received my qualitative research moderator certification from the Burke Institute in Cincinnati. The Burke Institute is a renowned market research education institution, and its qualitative research certification process includes participating in two week-long intensive (and not inexpensive) courses.
While I enjoyed the courses thoroughly, the primary reason I attended the courses was to be able to say that I am a certified focus group moderator. Prior to attending the certification courses, I had quite a bit of experience moderating focus groups and using the results from focus groups to inform decisions for my brands, but I did not have very much “proof” of my skill sets outside of some client referrals. I knew that if I wanted to augment the qualitative research part of my business, I needed to provide my prospective clients with some proof or a “reason to believe” that supported my claim that I could deliver objective and insightful research results. The fact that I am now a certified qualitative research moderator provides my brand stronger credibility that I can deliver the benefits of well-executed qualitative research.
Just as having a set of compelling brand benefits and a brand character are critical components to a well-defined brand, having reasons for your target customers to believe that your brand can deliver its benefits is equally important. Reasons to believe are facts that provide credibility to your brand as they explain how or why your brand delivers its benefits. Therefore, every brand benefit should have a corresponding reason to believe to support it. Additionally, as with all other brand building components, reasons to believe are strongest when they are relevant to the target customer in some way. Here is where customer research and understanding continue to be a key input into the brand development process.
Aside from providing believability and authenticity to your brand, reasons to believe differentiate your brand from competitors. Most brands that have similar benefits do not have the same reasons to believe, and even if they do share some proof points, the total package of reasons to believe for each brand is sure to be unique.
With all of this said, I find it intriguing that many organizations fail to focus on or communicate their reasons to believe to their target customers. Many brands have strong supporting evidence of their benefits such as a dedicated history in the industry or an unmatched emphasis on quality, but they do not communicate it. Other brands need to invest in creating proof to support their benefits such as utilizing spokespeople or attaining some form of accreditation/endorsement. In either case, leaders of brands should spend some time thinking through their brand’s reasons to believe and how to effectively communicate them as emphasizing a brand’s reasons to believe will lead to a more credible and differentiated story for selling the brand’s benefits.