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Can branding learn anything from agile user testing?

With rebranding budgets running into millions for global clients, and the ongoing effectiveness of the brand at stake, I’ve often wondered why modern user testing processes aren’t employed more to validate and improve new branding before being rolled out with such expense and risk.


What can User Testing bring to the party?

Incorporating a user testing strategy into an existing branding process, that combines market research, industry expertise and creative intuition, offers key strategic benefits of better audience relevance and engagement.

Advancements in testing technology, and the ability to collect feedback quickly and inexpensively, make a compelling case for user testing and an iterative creative process involving your audience.


Audience connections

We can gather valuable feedback on a new brand’s visual identity, messaging and tone by directly engaging with representatives from the target audience. This feedback can include preference and effectiveness tests of visual design and a deeper understanding of how users connect with the brand material. We can also test if the intended values, personality and positioning are being communicated effectively.


Consumer preferences are evolving

The market is constantly changing, and so are consumer preferences. To keep up with these changes, we conduct user testing to gain insights into evolving consumer preferences. This helps us to adapt our creative messages and remain relevant to our target audience. Brands that listen intently to their audience have been the most effective in the market.


Avoiding costly mistakes

Testing brand look and feel and branded content allows us to identify potential issues with the target audience before launch. This ability is even more valuable when we test across different countries and target groups.


Supporting creativity

Of course, there is a counterargument to this that a singular creative vision and process is sacrosanct, and that user testing dilutes and undermines the purity of this process. This was made most apparent when Google decided to use A/B testing to identify the most effective colour for Ad hyperlinks – which triggered the resignation of their top designer.

However, if the creative team is informed and empowered by the testing process, rather than undermined by it, this issue can be stopped before it snowballs. The results of testing should not be followed blindly, and should work as a tool for designers, not against them. Testing should also not be followed blindly, without considering the implications of changes.



So, in answer to our question, should you user-test branding? There is a strong argument that incorporating user testing into the branding process can help brands establish deeper connections with their target audience, stay in line with constantly evolving consumer preferences, and prevent costly mistakes or unintended consequences.

However, the challenge for both clients and agencies lies in finding the right balance between traditional market research and creative-driven brand development while implementing testing strategies to achieve the best results.