Developing anything in a vacuum seldom leads to effective results. Be it a product that needs improving or the UX of a landing page that requires optimizing, user testing has always been one of the ideal ways to judge if what your startup is offering is actually good. But what about your brand? Can it too benefit from the ingenuity of user testing?
Well it only takes a little googling to figure out that a “Brand” and “Customer Opinion” are pretty much one and the same—some might disagree with that definition but they often have no evidence to support an alternative characterization of what a brand is, making it rather dangerous to attempt to build a brand without consideration for what people think about it.
Nevertheless, there is still great value in being the founder or CEO that knows what people want before they even realize it, after all that’s what made Apple special under Steve Jobs’ leadership. In this article we will explore three important ideas that will help you make the most of user testing to build a better brand for your startup.
1. The Customer Is Always Right?
Although it might be an eye-catching title for this paragraph, this is a horrible question to ask because it has no exact answer. If you do attempt to find an answer however, you’ll likely find yourself spending way too much time pondering why this age old riddle is so divisive. Wouldn’t it be easy to tell if following whatever your customers asked you to do was a great strategy?
Some of you reading will think that it’s a ridiculous idea to base your startup’s strategies on people’s whims and wishes, whereas others might say that there’s nothing better than a satisfied customer. What I would suggest is that there is truth in both, especially when it comes to branding.
The best brands are unique, that’s where our name comes from. uniqium™ is the raw material that memorable brands are made of. And to be memorable, you must have a vision that sets you apart from your competition. So that’s where you should start, with an idea that only you could think of—a revolutionary way of looking at the world—even if it might seem like no one can relate to it. After that comes user testing, where you expose people to your brand and watch how they react, if you are able to trigger an epiphany in your audience then you are on the right track. In contrast if people are not ready yet, and your vision seems too out of reach or unrealistic, that means you have some adjusting to do.
2. Growing And Pivoting
Contrary to what you might first think when you hear us use the word “consistency”, a brand can grow and change with time, it just has to do so in a way that doesn’t shatter it’s vision. Here’s what I mean by that.
If you follow a Brand-Centric Strategy, which you can also discover in detail on our about page, you can use your brand vision as a filter or through line that connects all of your marketing efforts together. The result is a coherent and solid identity that will bring people closer to understanding your brand every time they interact with it.
With that being said, because a lot of startups tend to launch as single product/service businesses, there’s a lot of room to grow. If you regularly keep in touch with your customers and fans, you will have a better understanding of their needs, allowing you to expand your brand or even pivot it without changing the vision. An example of this would be Oculus, they started as an experimental company that little by little expanded their offering to include three different headsets as well as apps and games. You can imagine that as they grew, their brand did too. Now their brand is more focus on "Creating Experiences" rather than just tech, and a big part of that was because of their community—which are still involved with the company’s constant growth.
3. Word Of Mouth Wins
Like we mention in the beginning of this article, being ahead of the curve and knowing what people want even before they know it, is a desirable position to be in. But that is hard to apply to branding. You can’t really determine with perfect accuracy what people will feel towards your brand.
A Nielsen survey found that 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth above all other forms of advertising. What that shows us is that your potential customers simply trust people they know, and will definitely be influenced by their opinions.
How does user testing fit in this scenario? In short, it is a tool that you can use to figure out if the opinion which people circulate about your brand—through word of mouth—is favorable or not. Because as much you want your brand to be like your product or service, something that you have full control over in terms of anything from looks to function, your brand is a creation of the people that talk about it.
There’s no telling whether or not people relate to your vision, if you don’t pay close attention to what they’re saying about your brand. User testing is a great way to do just that. By keeping track of the good and bad that people think of your brand, you can better manage the risk of your startup’s identity getting out of hand or even worse becoming something that people hate.