How to get your research and brand noticed

13 Sep 2018

Jason Hancock - Digital Director

Private Sector | Not-For-Profit | Charity

The relationship between research and brand isn’t always obvious. In reality, research often contains findings that have the potential to positively (or negatively), disrupt the arena within which an organisation operates. This has implications for the perception of a brand.

Research can come from a not-for-profit group delivering a critical warning, a charity demanding policy change, or a think tank hinting at a solution to one of society’s greatest challenges. Equally, it can come from businesses looking to change the way we live or work.

As such, any research conducted should be seen as integral to a brand – offering proof of an organisation's relevance in today’s world. When communicated effectively, research can allow a brand (and the individuals representing it) to be seen as thought leaders worth listening to. This is where Bond & Coyne looks to link research, brand strategy and organisational goals.

Designing for different audiences

The Future of Skills was led by the education business, Pearson, supported by Oxford University and the innovation charity, Nesta. The research project sought to find the skills today’s learners would require to prosper in future careers. Bond & Coyne was tasked with communicating the findings to a public audience of learners and workers, as well as ensuring it got picked up by education policymakers and media.

By transforming the research into brand assets, Pearson was able to generate high levels of publicity from international news outlets and get the public thinking about their futures.

The combination of the project’s scale and diverse audiences presented a fundamental challenge. Our response was to tailor the way these audiences interacted with content. We allowed the public to quickly personalise report findings to their occupation, whilst providing busy policymakers with an overview of technical content.

Essentially we took an A4 research report and diversified it into highly accessible, branded content; from an interactive microsite and social media assets to printed findings and event materials. By transforming the research into brand assets, Pearson was able to generate high levels of publicity from international news outlets and get the public thinking about their futures.

We stress that organisations must avoid sitting on their research and confining it to merely a PDF download. If you have something exciting to say, it needs to be placed at the heart of a brand. For many brands it’s a real opportunity to evidence their importance.

Making the best use of budgets

Many would reply that they simply don’t have the budget to build this type of content. In these cases it’s vital to ask what exactly you are trying to communicate and rethink your creative touchpoints.

When Bond & Coyne was tasked with communicating the Overseas Development Institute’s research to world leaders at the UN General Assembly, we knew any touchpoint would need to hit the mark fast. Rather than providing large copies of a report to some of the world’s busiest people, we distilled the findings into a compact fan deck.

This simple solution had 4 key advantages:

  1. Accessibility: It allowed anyone to quickly flick through content and get a handle on the research and its recommendations

  2. Convenience: The event was full of organisations trying to deliver their reports to policymakers; the fan deck was small enough to fit in a pocket

  3. Standout: It wasn’t an A4 paper. Because of this it stood out amongst a sea of white reports

  4. Cost: By removing content that world leaders were unlikely to have time to read, we vastly reduced print and transportation costs

To make our budget work as hard as possible, we designed elements of the fan deck’s pages to easily translate to online platforms and social media. This allowed the research to communicate on an international level, where a conversation could be had in real time as the UN General Assembly progressed.

Where to begin

When communicated in an original and effective way, research has the potential to fuel a brand’s story and inspire new ideas for comms and campaigns. For not-for-profits this can mean developing new fundraising opportunities, or for businesses it can mean launching a new product.

The aim is to generate a buzz around a piece of research and then use that buzz to drive future initiatives. Start by asking what you want your audience to take away from a piece of research and then look at how the research can form part of what’s happening elsewhere in your brand.

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