Branding matters: it creates customers loyal to your products and services, and who are invested in your business venture almost as much as you are. But we’re living in an “apathy epidemic” and 80% of brands are not considered regularly by consumers. Brand positioning is so important because you can’t appeal to everyone. Different consumers hold different values dear, and to stand out from your competitors and cement yourself in your audience’s mind, you have to understand those values.
That’s why we undertook this exclusive research on brand positioning concepts in 2022. The power of brand positioning can be make or break for your business.
We want to help brands and businesses make the biggest impact on their customers – both actual and potential. So we undertook this research to discover how demographics impact on customer expectations regarding reputation and innovation.
We set out to ask a diverse group of Americans one question: whether they would prefer to engage with an established, historic, and trusted business or a new and innovative one.
And the results will help guide brand positioning strategy for small businesses in any market.
So why did we ask 301 participating Americans about customer preferences, pitting established and reputable businesses with innovative, fresh brands?
Firstly, it’s a question at the heart of rebranding strategies. Once a business has invested in a brand, and built up a loyal following around that identity, it can be hard to let go. But rebranding with a cute business name can cast a new light on your venture in the eyes of consumers, and pivoting away from an established identity can signal that you’re a disruptive entity innovating in the marketplace.
Secondly, in a fast-changing world, we wanted to understand how customers and clients value the sturdy reliability of a classic brand – something that appeals to Mom and Pop values and implies a traditional quality – versus innovation, disruption, and a position adjacent to the cutting edge.
We bundled these concerns into one powerful question and put it to a cross-section of the American people. Here’s what we found.
While our findings were broadly consistent with what you’d expect, there was a surprise or two regarding customer preferences – and plenty of learning moments occurred as we went through the data.
- Younger millennials – people aged 25 to 34 – were around 50% more likely to prefer brands identified as “new and innovative” over “historied and trusted”.
- We saw an almost even split in the preferences of those aged 35 to 44, albeit with a slight preference towards disruptive brands.
- Established and trusted brands hold significantly more influence in older generations.
- And those aged 55 to 64 have a major preference for brands perceived as well-established and broadly trusted.
- Across age groups, men have a small but significant preference for new and innovative brands.
- Meanwhile, women are around 50% more likely to be drawn to brands with a long history and a well-established reputation.
- Across all demographics, it was close to a 50-50 split for customer preferences. This reinforces the importance of considering your target audience and demonstrates that either branding positioning approach can yield dividends.
We saw a clear age split in what older and younger customers and clients value from a brand. A younger demographic clearly favors brands that evidence innovation and originality in their branding. At the same time, those of a Generation X or Baby Boomer age have a deep-rooted preference for classic brands.
And remember, new businesses are just as capable of building a brand identity appealing to the values of the older demographic. By choosing an old-school name, and opting for classic fonts and designs you can signal to your target audience that you’re a reputable brand with traditional values.
Meanwhile, well-established organizations don’t need to stick with their current branding if they want to appeal to a younger demographic. To emphasize your commitment to cutting-edge innovations, you can rebrand yourselves with a focus on new business trends.
Grant Polachek is the head of branding for Squadhelp.com, 3X Inc 5000 startup and disruptive naming agency. Squadhelp has reviewed more than 1 million names and curated a collection of the best available names on the web today. We are also the world’s leading crowdsource naming platform, supporting clients from early-stage startups to Fortune 500 companies.