I meet a lot of people who tell me their company or organization can’t afford research. I almost always tell them, “Actually, you can’t afford NOT to do research! What kind of decisions is your organization making on the fly, or based on your instincts alone? Do you ever make a decision after consulting a convenient but inappropriate group, like doing an informal survey among your employees in New York City and assuming that moms in middle America share their views?”
If they seem up for it, I like to recount the tale of a client I worked with who had designed a logo for an outreach campaign all about goal- setting, with a logo they thought looked like two targets side by side, both with prominent bulls-eyes. They were a non- profit with a tiny budget, but they managed to put together enough money to have two focus groups with their target audience to “sniff test” the logo—just to make sure it wasn’t a disaster.
In the groups, I showed a prototype of the logo and asked “What kind of cause do you think this logo might be associated with?” Respondents were certain of their answers:
Uh oh. The logo might have looked like two targets to my client, but their ideal audience had a very different interpretation. Lucky for my client, they had invested a little in testing the logo and saved a lot on creating products with a confusing or misleading logo! They went back to the drawing board for revisions, and ended up with a logo that resonated clearly with their audience.
Research doesn’t have to be a huge investment, but if you are making any decisions, it is almost always a smart investment.