In tough times for brands, emotional reaction becomes increasingly important as consumers and customers move into uncharted waters. I’ve spoken before about brand epistemology and the two types of knowledge we have about brands – the declarative knowledge and the emotional knowledge. This latter knowledge is acquired without conscious effort by low involvement processing, and it is for this reason that it is difficult to access and understand.
One useful technique is to use brand cohorts… other unrelated brands that sit comfortably together within a lifestyle or value context. I often use a set of 50 or so cards with brand logos and ask participants to select no more than 10 that sit comfortably with the brand in question. For example a participant may group Ford, Marks & Spencer, Timex, Carlsberg, Google and BP with the brand in question… and we can use this to promote further teasing out of more fine-grained insight into the deeper, emotion values the brands share.
Participants may be given specific direction or guidance to help investigate particular dimensions. One technique I have used is similar the the ‘six thinking hats’ approach… asking them to make a series of groups.
People who are interested in brand archetypes will already have spotted the similarities. Brand cohorts are often the manifestation of their archetypes.