3 min Read
August 22, 2014

Asking around: The highs, lows, and how-to’s of using focus groups in your rebrand

Ashley Kincaid, Executive Director, Pi Lambda Theta

Big Duck recently worked with the Future Educators Association and Pi Lambda Theta—two organizations that provide passionate young people with hands-on teaching experience, sustain their interest in the profession, and help them cultivate the skills they need to be successful educators—on their rebrand, which is scheduled to launch in summer 2015. We asked Ashley Kincaid, Executive Director of Pi Lambda Theta, to share her insights into the wonderful world of focus groups.

Rebranding an organization can be a perplexing process, even when all parties agree that it is long overdue. It’s a bold move to consider changing your organization’s name or logo—your core identity—and you want to be sure you get it right. But how can you be confident that the decisions you are making will have the intended effect? Our organization determined that engaging the voices of our key constituencies through focus groups was an important part of the process.

Considering focus groups? Here are a few tips that we learned along the way.

Think carefully about who to invite to the party. When involving current stakeholders, focus on those who are actively engaged in the organization. It not only gives you an opportunity to learn more about brand components that appeal to them, it also can shed light on fears and points of contention that may be bubbling. 

Also, don’t forget external audiences. Though it is essential to engage current constituents, speaking to individuals who epitomize those that you are trying to attract can be equally as important if you are looking to dramatically grow your organization. 

Start with your organization’s mission. Kick off the focus group by reminding everyone what you’re all about and that you all are working toward the same goal. This can mitigate any negative feelings that current constituents may feel toward you and the rebrand.

Explain your vision. Lay out the organization’s plans for revitalization or growth. Make it clear how this new direction benefits them and get them excited! 

Stay neutral…sort of. When sharing possible core identities, let participants know that you are excited about the options. However, don’t favor one over the other. You want participants to feel like their opinions matter — not that you’ve already made a decision and these conversations are “just for show.”

Guide the feedback process. Ask participants to hold comments until you’ve presented all core identity options. At the end, project all logos on one slide with a list of your personality traits and positioning statement. Ask questions like, “Which logo/tagline/name best represents our new personality or positioning statement?” “Which best speaks to each of our target audiences?” This helps participants frame their feedback in your vision for the future and avoid comments like, “I just don’t like the vibe of that,” or, “I don’t like that color.” 

To get valuable feedback, be sure to ask, “Why?” For example, it’s less important to know that your teen audience doesn’t like the color green and more important to know that they don’t like it because it doesn’t come across as powerful and dynamic.

Making sense of it all. Once you’ve finished, look for salient themes that span all conversations. Are there several takeaways that you heard over and over again? Also, couch feedback within the context of who said it. For example, you might pay more attention to individuals who typify the audiences you want to attract and downplay responses from those who are totally resistant to your vision of the future. 

Now that you have a grasp of what your audiences think, feel, and expect from your brand, use it. It can help you identify which core identity best suits your needs, what is successful about it, and what still needs work. But know that, ultimately, you have to make the call for what will best serve the organization in the long run.