Research for Communication Designs


Communication design is the packaging and staging of preference-steering brand and product messages. Ideally, communications should be clear and simple – but nevertheless able to trigger a wealth of associations. However, likability only plays a subordinate role: communications don’t have to be liked, they have to be effective.

Based on this logic, we have developed specific test approaches for the individual communication tools – from claims all the way to TV commercials. They depict the respective conditions for success in terms of a differentiated set of criteria and make them steerable.

Brand Status Analyzer
The basis for effective communication:
brand drivers in the category and competition context.

Brand Status Analyzer
The basis for effective communication:
brand drivers in the category and competition context.

Effective communications underline specific brand or product features that steer the formation of preferences and thus also influence value creation and volumes within a market’s motive structure.

The task of communications is to convey the semantic content and richness of meaning of any given feature into memorable messages and attractive imagery in order to establish brand credit. In other words, it’s all about generating a preference-steering brand experience via communications.
 
The goal of the Image Analyzer is therefore to use the current status quo of the brand and its competitive environment as a basis for identifying relevant drivers that can serve as the strategic platform for future communication routes for the product and brand. To this end, the Image Analyzer links four levels of perception in a holistic evaluation:

  • Perception of the category: what motives and needs are directed towards the product category? Which usage situations is the product category linked with and what motivational tensions can be derived from them?
  • Perception of the competition: which main conceptual ideas are present in the market? Which brands are linked with which ideas and what tensions result from the combined structure of the various brands?
  • Perception of the brand’s soul: from the consumer’s point of view, what are the discriminating, preference-steering elements and what does the brand stand for? What tensions does an analytical comparison with his perception of the category and competitors reveal?
  • Perception of the brand entity: which seminal brand elements are top-of-mind and to what extent do they influence how the brand is experienced? Does the semiotic analysis show a coherent picture of the brand or are any tensions evident within its identity? Do the individual brand signals ensure a relevant and unique positioning within the motives and needs structure?

Ad Audit
Storyboard & animatic – putting the Big Idea to the test.

Ad Audit
Storyboard & animatic – putting the Big Idea to the test.

The Big Idea is the guiding principle of anybody involved with advertising: the search for an idea that conveys a key message, which can be run in all channels and media and which persuades consumers to change both their opinions and their behaviour.

But is the Big Idea truly big?

This is where the Ad Route Audit comes in. The goal is to check the ideas and routes that have been developed in order to make adjustments in good time – i.e. before the shoot. The key questions at this point: Is the story right? Does it generate involvement? Are the strategic values communicated well? And which of the various routes or ideas is the most promising?

Visuals, ad designs, animatics and storyboards are tested with an eye to their strategic potential and their impact on the human-brand-product relationship and its components:

  • Understanding: from cognitive understanding of the main message all the way to the decoding of the idea behind the communication
  • Involvement: from the perceived benefits to projective integration with the consumer’s own lifeworld all the way to the relevance of the main promise
  • Innovativeness and assertiveness: from the uniqueness of the idea within the competitive communications context to the newness of the message and the anticipated benefit that can stimulate a change of behaviour
  • Acceptance: from the credibility of the category and brand fit all the way to the likeability of the perceived tonality and statements
  • Relevance: from the stimulative power of the idea all the way to its discriminatory power
  • Long-term validity: from the viability and campaign feasibility of the idea all the way to its fit with the long-term brand strategy

Ad Pre-Check
A dress rehearsal prior to flight:
quantifying the prospects of success, identifying optimization potential.

Ad Pre-Check
A dress rehearsal prior to flight:
quantifying the prospects of success, identifying optimization potential.

Increasing complexity, mobility and convergence make life difficult for advertising messages – advertising is registered like a flash from a camera and is rarely given active consideration.

The advertising medium – regardless of whether it’s a print ad or a TV commercial – thus has to be tested in as realistic a setting and context as possible. Perceptive and apperceptive criteria are uppermost: in a complex context, how well are sensory stimuli perceived and processed into messages? However, likeability only tends to play a subordinate role in this respect.

The Ad Pre-Check – which can be used for both qualitative and quantitative ad pre-tests – thus focuses on eight key dimensions:

  • Perception and assertiveness in the advertising and situational context
  • Recall and recognition of key visuals and key words
  • Associative translation of the key visuals and key words and compression into a main message
  • Interpretative translation of the key visuals and key words: how well are the strategic goals of the product and brand conveyed?
  • Personal involvement and fit with the target group’s mindset and life design
  • Relevance and uniqueness of the message
  • Product interest and willingness to buy triggered by the ad
  • Development of long-term markers consisting of USP, brand, key visuals and key words

The atmospheric and creative aspects of the ad, such as tonality or likeability, serve as catalysts for its evaluation. Although they can accelerate or slow down the ad’s communicative performance, they are not themselves criteria for its efficiency. At the same time, it is essential to identify potential barriers that could impair the ad’s communicative performance and message.

Campaign Control
Tracking success, tweaking the concepts.

Campaign Control
Tracking success, tweaking the concepts.

Whether it runs on TV, in print or online: once the campaign is over, the Campaign Control procedure provides a precise measurement of the assertiveness and communicative performance of the individual ads and media in the context of the recipient’s individual habits and attitudes. Did the campaign work? Is it advisable to continue the campaign? Is there any optimization potential and how can it be translated into reality?

In order to measure the success of the campaign and indicate where changes might need to be made, Campaign Control focuses on five key measuring points:

  • Recall and range: how high is unprompted and prompted recall? In which media was the campaign perceived? What content, visuals and branding elements are anchored in the consumer’s memory?
  • Understanding: was the campaign and its messages understood?
  • Awareness and relevance: how high is brand awareness as compared to relevant competitors and/or to the past? What changes in brand strength and willingness to buy can be observed as a result of the campaign?
  • Involvement: what effect has the campaign had on the brand’s likeability? Has the campaign succeeded in providing a lasting incentive to give the brand and its offering closer consideration?
  • Image impact: what image does the brand have as compared to its competitors? Which changes can be observed in terms of brand competence?

Magazine Check
Identifying leverage points for successful customer magazines.

Magazine Check
Identifying leverage points for successful customer magazines.

Customer magazines are an important driving force for customer loyalty. They face companies with the challenge of achieving high recall, high usage and high acceptance. Because these factors are important prerequisites for ensuring that a positive image transfer takes place and that the customer magazine works successfully in the long term.

There is, however, no patent remedy for the successful implementation and establishment of a customer magazine. The automotive industry doesn’t work the same way as the energy industry, keeping an aquarium isn’t the same as model making. At most, only one thing is certain: copying general-interest magazines or positioning the publication as a “coupon book” doesn’t work.

Accordingly, the strategic levers and conditions for success for the respective market and the respective brand have to be considered individually. Our Magazine Check therefore focuses on the following key areas:

  • Relevant market topics: What triggers interest? What qualifies and differentiates the provider? What might attractive stories in this market look like?
  • Basic data: awareness, usage frequency and usage intensity of the customer magazine using relevant competitors as benchmarks
  • Long-term overall acceptance: what overall impression does the customer magazine make on its recipient? How is the article on strategic, brand-specific core topics evaluated?
  • Learnings from the current issue: How is the magazine used? Which articles are read and how are they evaluated? What kind of overall impression does it make based on direct impressions of the layout, the quality of the copy and the information content?
  • Impact on customer loyalty and satisfaction: which image aspects does the customer magazine strengthen? What effect does it have on customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Claim Check
Identifying strategic buttons for the brand promise.

Claim Check
Identifying strategic buttons for the brand promise.

Claims are meant to express the brand promise in a nutshell. Accordingly, the requirements a claim has to satisfy are both differentiated and exacting: besides attracting attention, triggering interest and expressing the product benefit, it also has to capture and convey the entire brand world.

Accordingly, the criteria our Claim Check uses to evaluate a slogan or claim are equally multifaceted:

  • Communicative power: how clear, memorable and assertive is the claim?
  • Semantic brand fit: to what extent are the brand values conveyed?
  • Semantic product fit: how well are the specific benefit and value of the offering communicated?
  • Uniqueness: how unique do the claim and the message it conveys seem?
  • Involvement: how appealing does the claim seem? What interest does it trigger?
  • Relevance: how relevant is the message and to what extent does it succeed in steering preferences?

Ideally, claims should be tested in their context (e.g. on the pack) – firstly in order to provide an appropriate reference point for the product category, secondly in order to incorporate the relevant visual codes of colours and product visuals as framing criteria.

Logo Check
Checking the visualisation power of the brand DNA.

Logo Check
Checking the visualisation power of the brand DNA.

The logo and name are the ambassadors of a brand or product. Besides assertiveness and differentiation, the communication of key brand content and values is crucial to their success.

In order to evaluate the communicative qualities of the name and logo, the Logo Check measures the following key parameters:

  • Communicative power: how clear, memorable and assertive are the name and pictorial symbols?
  • Phonetic quality: is the name easy to pronounce? How is the sound of the word assessed?
  • Comprehensibility and associativity: how is the combination of words and graphics understood? What values and attributes are associated with the logo?
  • Semantic product & brand fit: how well does the logo underpin the key brand muscles and strategic product positioning?
  • Uniqueness: how unique and distinctive do the name and graphics seem?
  • Involvement: how appealing are the name and graphics? What interest do they trigger?
  • Relevance: how relevant and preference-steering is the message discerned from the logo?

Research for Communication Designs


Communication design is the packaging and staging of preference-steering brand and product messages. Ideally, communications should be clear and simple – but nevertheless able to trigger a wealth of associations. However, likability only plays a subordinate role: communications don’t have to be liked, they have to be effective.

Based on this logic, we have developed specific test approaches for the individual communication tools – from claims all the way to TV commercials. They depict the respective conditions for success in terms of a differentiated set of criteria and make them steerable.

Brand Status Analyzer
The basis for effective communication:
brand drivers in the category and competition context.

Brand Status Analyzer
The basis for effective communication:
brand drivers in the category and competition context.

Effective communications underline specific brand or product features that steer the formation of preferences and thus also influence value creation and volumes within a market’s motive structure.

The task of communications is to convey the semantic content and richness of meaning of any given feature into memorable messages and attractive imagery in order to establish brand credit. In other words, it’s all about generating a preference-steering brand experience via communications.
 
The goal of the Image Analyzer is therefore to use the current status quo of the brand and its competitive environment as a basis for identifying relevant drivers that can serve as the strategic platform for future communication routes for the product and brand. To this end, the Image Analyzer links four levels of perception in a holistic evaluation:

  • Perception of the category: what motives and needs are directed towards the product category? Which usage situations is the product category linked with and what motivational tensions can be derived from them?
  • Perception of the competition: which main conceptual ideas are present in the market? Which brands are linked with which ideas and what tensions result from the combined structure of the various brands?
  • Perception of the brand’s soul: from the consumer’s point of view, what are the discriminating, preference-steering elements and what does the brand stand for? What tensions does an analytical comparison with his perception of the category and competitors reveal?
  • Perception of the brand entity: which seminal brand elements are top-of-mind and to what extent do they influence how the brand is experienced? Does the semiotic analysis show a coherent picture of the brand or are any tensions evident within its identity? Do the individual brand signals ensure a relevant and unique positioning within the motives and needs structure?

Ad Audit
Storyboard & animatic – putting the Big Idea to the test.

Ad Audit
Storyboard & animatic – putting the Big Idea to the test.

The Big Idea is the guiding principle of anybody involved with advertising: the search for an idea that conveys a key message, which can be run in all channels and media and which persuades consumers to change both their opinions and their behaviour.

But is the Big Idea truly big?

This is where the Ad Route Audit comes in. The goal is to check the ideas and routes that have been developed in order to make adjustments in good time – i.e. before the shoot. The key questions at this point: Is the story right? Does it generate involvement? Are the strategic values communicated well? And which of the various routes or ideas is the most promising?

Visuals, ad designs, animatics and storyboards are tested with an eye to their strategic potential and their impact on the human-brand-product relationship and its components:

  • Understanding: from cognitive understanding of the main message all the way to the decoding of the idea behind the communication
  • Involvement: from the perceived benefits to projective integration with the consumer’s own lifeworld all the way to the relevance of the main promise
  • Innovativeness and assertiveness: from the uniqueness of the idea within the competitive communications context to the newness of the message and the anticipated benefit that can stimulate a change of behaviour
  • Acceptance: from the credibility of the category and brand fit all the way to the likeability of the perceived tonality and statements
  • Relevance: from the stimulative power of the idea all the way to its discriminatory power
  • Long-term validity: from the viability and campaign feasibility of the idea all the way to its fit with the long-term brand strategy

Ad Pre-Check
A dress rehearsal prior to flight:
quantifying the prospects of success, identifying optimization potential.

Ad Pre-Check
A dress rehearsal prior to flight:
quantifying the prospects of success, identifying optimization potential.

Increasing complexity, mobility and convergence make life difficult for advertising messages – advertising is registered like a flash from a camera and is rarely given active consideration.

The advertising medium – regardless of whether it’s a print ad or a TV commercial – thus has to be tested in as realistic a setting and context as possible. Perceptive and apperceptive criteria are uppermost: in a complex context, how well are sensory stimuli perceived and processed into messages? However, likeability only tends to play a subordinate role in this respect.

The Ad Pre-Check – which can be used for both qualitative and quantitative ad pre-tests – thus focuses on eight key dimensions:

  • Perception and assertiveness in the advertising and situational context
  • Recall and recognition of key visuals and key words
  • Associative translation of the key visuals and key words and compression into a main message
  • Interpretative translation of the key visuals and key words: how well are the strategic goals of the product and brand conveyed?
  • Personal involvement and fit with the target group’s mindset and life design
  • Relevance and uniqueness of the message
  • Product interest and willingness to buy triggered by the ad
  • Development of long-term markers consisting of USP, brand, key visuals and key words

The atmospheric and creative aspects of the ad, such as tonality or likeability, serve as catalysts for its evaluation. Although they can accelerate or slow down the ad’s communicative performance, they are not themselves criteria for its efficiency. At the same time, it is essential to identify potential barriers that could impair the ad’s communicative performance and message.

Campaign Control
Tracking success, tweaking the concepts.

Campaign Control
Tracking success, tweaking the concepts.

Whether it runs on TV, in print or online: once the campaign is over, the Campaign Control procedure provides a precise measurement of the assertiveness and communicative performance of the individual ads and media in the context of the recipient’s individual habits and attitudes. Did the campaign work? Is it advisable to continue the campaign? Is there any optimization potential and how can it be translated into reality?

In order to measure the success of the campaign and indicate where changes might need to be made, Campaign Control focuses on five key measuring points:

  • Recall and range: how high is unprompted and prompted recall? In which media was the campaign perceived? What content, visuals and branding elements are anchored in the consumer’s memory?
  • Understanding: was the campaign and its messages understood?
  • Awareness and relevance: how high is brand awareness as compared to relevant competitors and/or to the past? What changes in brand strength and willingness to buy can be observed as a result of the campaign?
  • Involvement: what effect has the campaign had on the brand’s likeability? Has the campaign succeeded in providing a lasting incentive to give the brand and its offering closer consideration?
  • Image impact: what image does the brand have as compared to its competitors? Which changes can be observed in terms of brand competence?

Magazine Check
Identifying leverage points for successful customer magazines.

Magazine Check
Identifying leverage points for successful customer magazines.

Customer magazines are an important driving force for customer loyalty. They face companies with the challenge of achieving high recall, high usage and high acceptance. Because these factors are important prerequisites for ensuring that a positive image transfer takes place and that the customer magazine works successfully in the long term.

There is, however, no patent remedy for the successful implementation and establishment of a customer magazine. The automotive industry doesn’t work the same way as the energy industry, keeping an aquarium isn’t the same as model making. At most, only one thing is certain: copying general-interest magazines or positioning the publication as a “coupon book” doesn’t work.

Accordingly, the strategic levers and conditions for success for the respective market and the respective brand have to be considered individually. Our Magazine Check therefore focuses on the following key areas:

  • Relevant market topics: What triggers interest? What qualifies and differentiates the provider? What might attractive stories in this market look like?
  • Basic data: awareness, usage frequency and usage intensity of the customer magazine using relevant competitors as benchmarks
  • Long-term overall acceptance: what overall impression does the customer magazine make on its recipient? How is the article on strategic, brand-specific core topics evaluated?
  • Learnings from the current issue: How is the magazine used? Which articles are read and how are they evaluated? What kind of overall impression does it make based on direct impressions of the layout, the quality of the copy and the information content?
  • Impact on customer loyalty and satisfaction: which image aspects does the customer magazine strengthen? What effect does it have on customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Claim Check
Identifying strategic buttons for the brand promise.

Claim Check
Identifying strategic buttons for the brand promise.

Claims are meant to express the brand promise in a nutshell. Accordingly, the requirements a claim has to satisfy are both differentiated and exacting: besides attracting attention, triggering interest and expressing the product benefit, it also has to capture and convey the entire brand world.

Accordingly, the criteria our Claim Check uses to evaluate a slogan or claim are equally multifaceted:

  • Communicative power: how clear, memorable and assertive is the claim?
  • Semantic brand fit: to what extent are the brand values conveyed?
  • Semantic product fit: how well are the specific benefit and value of the offering communicated?
  • Uniqueness: how unique do the claim and the message it conveys seem?
  • Involvement: how appealing does the claim seem? What interest does it trigger?
  • Relevance: how relevant is the message and to what extent does it succeed in steering preferences?

Ideally, claims should be tested in their context (e.g. on the pack) – firstly in order to provide an appropriate reference point for the product category, secondly in order to incorporate the relevant visual codes of colours and product visuals as framing criteria.

Logo Check
Checking the visualisation power of the brand DNA.

Logo Check
Checking the visualisation power of the brand DNA.

The logo and name are the ambassadors of a brand or product. Besides assertiveness and differentiation, the communication of key brand content and values is crucial to their success.

In order to evaluate the communicative qualities of the name and logo, the Logo Check measures the following key parameters:

  • Communicative power: how clear, memorable and assertive are the name and pictorial symbols?
  • Phonetic quality: is the name easy to pronounce? How is the sound of the word assessed?
  • Comprehensibility and associativity: how is the combination of words and graphics understood? What values and attributes are associated with the logo?
  • Semantic product & brand fit: how well does the logo underpin the key brand muscles and strategic product positioning?
  • Uniqueness: how unique and distinctive do the name and graphics seem?
  • Involvement: how appealing are the name and graphics? What interest do they trigger?
  • Relevance: how relevant and preference-steering is the message discerned from the logo?