As you push forward with your branding efforts, it’s important that you understand we live in a world fraught with data. Want to prove a point? You will, almost invariably, be able to find statistical, survey, or poll support for your argument. Or, you have the ability to conduct your own survey, to gather the data necessary for persuasion. People will look for that data when making brand decisions. They will rely on it. Until…

they develop scepticism of that data, for all the reasons listed above, and more.

When Data Interpretation Hinders Branding

Consumers have a love/hate relationship with data. They demand it, because they know it can be unearthed for nearly any application. And yet, they are suspicious of every piece of data they ingest, because they know how easily it can be manipulated.

So how can you, as a brand,

  1. Keep this scepticism at bay?
  2. Collect quality data with which to make important branding decisions?


“Bad data” not only results in poor decisions that will hurt your branding, it can muddy your reputation and erode trust. Here are some common mistakes made by brand owners who feel pressure to moonlight as data scientists:

  • Seeking only the data necessary for proving the point-at-hand: This is about as effective as pulling together every person on a crowded street who’s wearing red and asking all of them to name their favourite colour. Your polled group can be made up of ideal clients; however, questions should be asked of random samplings (or all members), not hand-picked candidates.
  • Collecting data only one time, or at a bad time: Only asking questions about holiday shopping during the Christmas break, or only calling to ask about telemarketer preferences during the dinner hour can seriously skew the results of your data collection efforts. Variety is key here.
  • Using one data collection method: This could affect participation, and therefore, results. Not everyone will take the time to respond to a direct mail poll (unless they are highly incited by the topic). Others prefer not to talk on the phone. Yet others tend to be nervous in one-on-one interviews. Vary your collection methods, or find solid research about the preferences of your target audience, before devising a plan.
  • Choosing only those results that support your brand message: This could be classified as a crime in the business and marketing worlds—and for good reason. Representation must be accurate and truthful; otherwise, all results are contrived.
  • Answers that are open to interpretation: Sometimes, data collection methods are set up so that participants can answer with their own words. This does allow for more in-depth analysis of target audience needs (valuable for making emotional connections in marketing); however, when converted to represent fact, these words are subject to the interpretation of the “translator.” This can cause skewed results.
  • Asking leading questions: Every marketer would like to find overwhelming data that supports his or her branding message; however, when questions are asked in ways that manipulate participants’ answers, results will be highly misrepresentative.
  • Relying on volunteer-only responses: Opinions presented at single-party political conventions, calls into a one-sided radio show, and other voluntary view offerings do not qualify as data. They’re exceedingly one-sided.
  • Putting people “on the spot” and subjecting them to social pressures: In cases where people are not permitted to respond anonymously (and sometimes, when they are), they will feel pressure to respond in a certain manner, and will do so—essentially distorting your results. Make honesty easy.

In conclusion, random sampling (even within your target audience) is best. Employing a variety of collection methods, at a variety of times and in a variety of venues, is also recommended. At How to Build a Brand, we also advocate the looking into of all data collection methods—even if they aren’t your own. The “data” presented is just a façade; the real truth lies in how it was collected. Find that truth, and your data will withstand the distrust that runs rampant in consumer circles.

Are you ready to learn more about data and how it can forward your branding efforts? Then you’re more-than-ready for our B.R.A.N.D. Kickstarter Online Masterclass. Simply head over to and reserve your spot.

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