Sonar acquires Preely. A new era of consumer insights awaits.

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Sonar acquires Preely

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Master Brand Perception: The Power of Consumer Narratives

Brand perception is not just a buzzword in the marketing world—it’s a critical element that shapes consumer behaviour and decision-making. The way consumers perceive your brand affects their trust, loyalty, and purchasing decisions.

Yet, mastering brand perception is not much of a joy ride. Most of the time, marketers and brand professionals will flat-out ignore it and focus only on brand identity – much to their loss, really.

In fact, the clash between your brand identity (a.k.a. how you would like to sound) and consumer brand perception (a.k.a. how your consumers hear you) can only morph into messaging mismatches, which will only frustrate your communication efforts.

So, how do you focus on and master consumer brand perception? In this blog post, we’ll show you how understanding your consumers through their narratives will help you discover, master, and influence their perception of your brand.

So…What Is Brand Perception?

In short, brand perception refers to how the outside world views and interprets your brand. It encompasses your consumers’ beliefs, attitudes, and impressions of a company, product, or service.

Brand perception is instrumental in shaping consumer behaviour in decision-making. Indeed, positive brand perception builds trust, loyalty, and consumer advocacy.

Think about it: don’t you have that one brand that, for your own reasons, you’re inexplicably loyal and attracted to? It may be a specific snack whose flavour elicits childhood memories, or a clothing brand that instantly makes you feel fashionable.

This leads to a key challenge: while companies may have one brand identity, they can have as many brand perceptions as they have consumers.

Circling back to our prior example, your favourite snack may be seen as unhealthy by others; your top-choice clothing brand as cheap or distasteful. And yet, both you and the rest of the world are exposed to the same brand!

How Do You Influence Brand Perception?

As a marketer or a brand professional, it’s your role to choose what consumers you want to appeal to most, and how to influence their perception with your messaging. And the most traditional influencing tools you are going to use are:

  • Branded promotion. Brand messaging and advertising play a significant role in how consumers perceive a brand.
  • Customer experience. Interactions between consumers and the company at every step of the journey reflect the brand and values of the company. For instance, your customer service, website, or physical stores can shape brand perception.
  • Online presence. Social media, review platforms, and online communities contribute to how a brand is perceived.

Yet, using these levers without understanding your customers is like shooting at a target blindfolded: you may have the fanciest and most efficient gun out there, but your chances of hitting the bullseye are slim.

To get to the bottom of consumer understanding and put your influencing levers to good use, you’ve got to gather deep and meaningful consumer insights. And one effective way to do that is via consumer narratives.

The Key to Perfect Brand Perception: Consumer Narratives

Consumer narratives are the stories and experiences that consumers share about their interactions with a brand. They hold tremendous importance because they offer unique insights into how consumers perceive your brand.

By capturing and analyzing consumer narratives, businesses gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, their needs, and how they perceive their brand.

Qualitative consumer research, like unmoderated and moderated interviews, is perfect to help you collect your consumers’ stories. Ask your consumers to open up and share their stories on video: you’ll end up with a trove of deep, qualitative data you can use to understand how they see you and your brand.

In turn, you can use their insights to shape your branded promotion, consumer experience or online presence.

At Sonar, we have spent the past four years building a proprietary AI-powered platform to help you do just that, with no qualitative research experience required. In simple terms, we have built an AI that has learned to code and structure information and emotions provided in video interviews into actionable insights.

This means that when our platform has captured video of, for example, 15 participants delivering interviews based on a designed study for brand perception, our AI will turn these interviews into structured data and clear, actionable insights within minutes. This task would normally take hours upon hours of work by experts listening to and analyzing the data. If you want to learn more, you can book a demo here.

How to Master Consumer Narratives: a Case Story

Consumer narratives provide a wealth of information that businesses can use to uncover and improve the way consumers see your brand. By condensing individual stories into key themes, you can spot the common emotional drivers and produce actionable, contextualised insights.

But enough theory. Let’s see how EPOS used consumer insights to realign its brand efforts. The Danish Computer and Electronics Manufacturer used stories from its gaming audience to learn how its brand was perceived by gamers worldwide. It also learnt how it stacked against other popular gaming brands in terms of quality, prestige, reliability and gaming relevance.

By hearing stories from its audience, EPOS discovered how to refine its multimedia communication, the venues where it could promote its brand more aggressively, where gamers spent most of their time using its products, and why. You can read more about this story here.

Wrapping Up…

Understanding brand perception is vital for businesses to establish strong connections with their target audience. Consumer narratives serve as a powerful tool in uncovering these perceptions, allowing businesses to make informed decisions to enhance their brand reputation.

As a marketing or brand professional you must embrace consumer narratives to influence brand perception effectively. So, listen to your consumers’ stories, analyse their experiences, and use these insights to shape your brand strategy. As a result, you will improve your brand’s position, attract loyal customers, and ultimately drive business success.

Play to Win: How EPOS Validated Its Brand Strategy for Global Success


How can you make sure customers worldwide clearly understand what your brand stands for?

When EPOS entered the gaming scene, it knew effective branding was critical to success. The company wanted to be recognized as a premium, high-quality gaming brand in a market already saturated with established competitors and die-hard loyal customers. Therefore, it began a thorough (and expensive) branding campaign.

After 12 months of intense brand positioning, and with its products ready to ship in more than 160 markets, EPOS wanted to see if its message was resonating with customers worldwide.

That’s when it reached Sonar to check the pulse of its brand perception among gamers.


Sonar and EPOS began their collaboration by identifying the scope of their research. They identified the main objectives of their research, mapped the target audience, set the screening questions, and agreed on the structure of the study. This led to tailor-made customer research that matched the needs of the audio tech company.

Next, Sonar recruited, screened and interviewed more than 80 participants from EPOS 3 biggest markets. After it analysed their feedback and aggregated them into actionable insights, Sonar provided EPOS with concrete, customer-backed recommendations.


The insights were encouraging. EPOS was already perceived as a top-of-mind premium headset brand, thanks to the high quality of its audio products and its closeness with Sennheiser. In other words, the company had succeeded in its branding efforts, and it has the customer validation it needed to prove it.

However, gamers wanted more clarity on the business relationship between EPOS and Sennheiser. Furthermore, they also wanted the company to sponsor worldwide gaming events to increase its footprint as a gamer headset brand.


EPOS used the insights to refine its communication strategy, clarify its connection with Sennheiser, and place itself as an autonomous, fully-owned brand. It also began sponsoring multiple worldwide e-sports teams, as well as international gaming events like the FIFAe Finals 2022.

Today, EPOS has a strong presence on social media, with informative and engaging content that caters to the interests of the gaming community.

Thanks to Sonar’s insights, EPOS was able to streamline its marketing focus and strengthen its brand image within the gaming community. The commitment to providing the best audio solutions for gamers has earned them a loyal fan base, and their brand awareness continues to grow.

EPOS has found its footing in the gaming industry, and it’s only up from here.

How Novozymes Leveraged Customer Insights to Create a Human-Centric Health Brand

But how can you, as a company, bring biological answers and find solutions for your consumers in an increasingly demanding marketplace?

You ask them about their needs and aspirations, of course.

Rethinking how to address health and solve challenges

Novozymes has been dedicated to enzymes and microbes for more than 70 years, working to solve biological problems and make a difference in the world.

But with the appearance of new health paradigms such as stress-related diseases, the company needed to rethink how to address health and solve society’s modern challenges. As a first step to tackle these new paradigms, Novozymes wanted to uncover more about its customers and their brand perception by combining customer insights with technology, to take those insights to adapt the brand.

But, according to Ulrich Irgens, General Manager of Novozymes OneHealth, the conclusion was not what they were anticipating…

Understanding the surroundings in the market landscape

Before Novozymes could figure out a way to grow, it was essential to know the competition, which meant scanning the market landscape and their brand’s perception: “We started with lots of insights on the perception of Novozymes in the health industry,” Ulrich Irgens explains.

The research revealed that while the company was up against some very established players in a competitive entry:

It was pretty clear that Novozymes was a market leader in biotechnology, [but] in health, we were a completely unknown entity

Ulrich Irgens

Consequently, it prompted the company to consider how it could increase its brand awareness. And so, OneHealth was born: a brand business unit used to market solutions within human health under one singular umbrella.

“We realised that we needed to build something quite specific.”

Novozymes sought to uncover consumer needs and develop tailored solutions to their issues. Therefore, the company needed a means of understanding its consumers on a deeper level.

Enter customer insights.

How do you make a leap at the very beginning of your innovation or development project into the unknown? It’s scary [but it] can be triggered by consumer insights. We had to take insights as a way of working and embed it as a cultural way of thinking in everything we do.”

Ulrich Irgens

With insights into its customers, the company wrote a core story to leverage the value of the company while creating a strong and dedicated health brand: “[It was] us saying ‘what do we need to do, who do we need to do it for and why are we doing it?’” Irgens explains.

According to Irgens, helping consumers live better and healthier lives is not just achieved through scientific expertise, but with empathy as well:‍ ‍“We realised that we needed to build something quite specific” in order to stand out and solve the needs of the consumers of tomorrow – and this requires empathy and the ability to set oneself in someone else’s shoes.

Putting empathy and human understanding at the forefront

Novozymes OneHealth aims to create clinically proven probiotics and enzymes tailored to meet end-user needs. And to meet the specific needs, the company has to put empathy and human understanding at the forefront of everything they do:

“You have got to show consumers and customers that you are a business, a team of people and a culture that is there to understand people.”

For instance, all the visuals Novozymes use show actual employees and team members, “there to communicate that we are here to understand and here as human beings, not just as technology providers,” Irgens says.

Additionally, this is the company’s way of putting empathy at the fore of their work, which he states is a “supercritical [element]“, just as it is to ensure “that customers and consumers are at the front of everything“.

According to Irgens, the goal was to ensure that the consumer hasn’t moved on: “We must make sure that we check in at every point along the way to make sure that we have the consumers with us,” he concludes. And this was ensured by actually using the insights they gathered.

As a result, the company improved in both positioning and branding

Novozymes validated extensively with its consumers, needing the human side of things: “We pivoted and adapted our story and we tested again and got some really, really interesting insights out of it,” Irgens explains.

For instance, the company concluded that some concepts stood out more than others in the core story. Words such as “trillion” and “cutting-edge technology” were the most noticeable ones because of being the strongest claim of the core story. Additionally, the visual identity gave the impression of a human-centric and scientifically sound company, which was the aim.

Both examples enabled Novozymes to develop a tone of voice and a visual concept that resonates with its audience.

Ulrich Irgens explains that using the gathered insights has helped the company grow. However, he notes that:

If you don’t listen and use these insights along each of these steps to either pivot or adapt or change, […] the market [can] move on and the value proposition [will] no longer [be] relevant.”

As a result, the company landed with a brand personality that translates its philosophy, culture and beliefs: the One-in-a-trillion brand idea.

Thus, empathy helped Novozymes amplify data development

Irgens explains that consumer insights show consumers are becoming more activist-oriented regarding health. “They are looking for a prevention more than a cure; they are looking for health care, not sick care,” he states.

This conclusion helped the company in its task of figuring out how to address health to resonate with consumers’ needs. Additionally, it helped establish the OneHealth brand as well as the ‘One-in-a-trillion’ vision and culture: “We want health to be an aspiration, not a need,” Irgen reveals, which correlates well with what the customers are looking for.

Novozymes validated the final concept with consumers by creating and testing several idea propositions. Ultimately, this ensured that the company offered its customers solutions verified by end-consumers. As Irgens states, it’s “not just [about] driving insights, but [about] understanding them” as well.

Using insights has been an excellent way for the company to ensure that the value proposition and innovation remain relevant. Combining trustworthy technology with actionable insights has enabled the company to build a business from the ground up, going from six people to hundreds of employees. In addition, it has helped deliver real breakthrough innovation to happy customers.

But, as Irgens explains, “Insights are not a single source for us”. Instead, it is used to amplify other data, such as scientific insights.”

Novozymes managed to create a vision and a culture with the OneHealth brand that resonates with the customers. Moreover, the brand’s goal to be “purely driven by insights” has enabled a considerable commitment to the customers, which is what “stood out in insights [into] what customers like,” Ulrich Irgens concludes.

How Maersk Used Insights to Create Compelling Marketing Campaigns

“Our audience is exposed to huge amounts of content. Each day they typically scroll around 90 metres on their phones and see two and half thousand advertisements. So we need to create something that’s going to stand out, that tells our story”

Dominic Pope, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Maersk.

Dominic has been with the company for four and a half years. During that time, one of the main marketing focuses has been the repositioning of the global brand of Maersk. In that transition, Sonar played a significant role.

The transition started in 2019 when Maersk decided to not only focus on ocean shipping but become an end-to-end logistic partner for their B2B customers.

We needed some insight into our customers’ views on what logistics is and what it means within their organisation. We wanted to validate what they like and engage with and if they understood the core message of our communications. We did that in order to create these large brand campaigns that could tap in and really form an emotional connection with them.”

Essential insights from different markets

It has been a challenge for the marketing team at Maersk to cut through to their audience in a competitive media landscape. Their approach was to push boundaries and create content that intrigues and interests people. But they needed to validate their content, and they needed validation from a global audience.

“We are a global company, and Sonar allows us to test globally. This gives us the ability to target specific people from our customer segments and show them our creative output and use their reactions to understand them”

With the help of Sonar, Maersk has received customer insights from different markets and industries around the globe. These tests have informed them that although some things might work in one market, they may not produce the expected reactions in another.

The understanding and feedback we get are really rich data for us. We use it to tweak the creative and make changes or even go back to the drawing board entirely. It gives us the assurance that we are developing something that will really connect”

Validation is critical when investing in large campaigns

When Maersk is creating a global marketing campaign, they invest large budgets and want to get an indication of the reception. So in 2020, they released a campaign film called “Disconnected”.

However, as they were developing it they were balancing between making it mysterious and compelling but also more complex.

“The story is quite complicated. It is about these people in a different world of logistics and how they are all connected. Would it really stand out or not? We used Sonar to validate that. Our segment really understood and appreciated it taking away our message,” says Dominic Pope.

The social media benchmarks confirmed this. The campaign scored within the top 5% overall. In addition, when Maersk released the film into the market, it achieved over 150 million views globally.”

“The work with Sonar really helped us in achieving these fantastic results ” Pope emphasises.

The insights deliver a more profound understanding

Maersk is highly focused on being a customer-centric organisation. To improve the delivery of their customer’s needs, Sonar has been a vital partner in providing in-depth insights.

There is a very fast turnaround, which is vitally important to us because we need to be able to understand whether something is ready, needs a rewrite or isn’t going to work at all”

For Dominic and his team, Sonar delivers analysed and organised data from their target audience, for example, whilst testing a film for a campaign. He highlights the quantitative amount as a useful barometer. But it is not the most critical part.

Those insights present us with a really deep dive into the data. The level of understanding we receive tells us how people feel about certain things. So it is the qualitative that gives an important understanding of whether a project is going to present a challenge.”

Sonar’s understanding of their business and what Maersk is trying to achieve has Dominic Pope describing their relationship as “so much more than a service provider relationship.”

For Dominic, these insights are the cornerstone of their work.

“A campaign is nothing without insights as a foundation. That is everything. You can do the best creative work in the world, but if it doesn’t create a connection with your customer, it will not resonate. It’s not going to drive your business,” concludes Dominic Pope.

Maersk’s Philosophy on Customer Centricity

But why does customer centricity really matter when working with a 20-foot-long container? And how do the teams at Maersk actually use customer insight?

In short, their practice is to make the customer shine in front of their own customers. Read along to get the full explanation.

Maersk has embarked on a customer-centric journey

Maersk has a legacy of almost 120 years of shipping. Today, it is the largest container shipping line in the world. However, in recent years, the company has repositioned itself to be an end-to-end logistics partner for B2B customers.

But when navigating a large vessel in a new direction, many unknown factors must be taken into account. Global Head of Insights at Maersk, John Walker, leads global customer insights and solution development for the company.

In this process, his focus has been democratising insights and driving customer-led innovation. In his own words, he has truly taken the journey of what it means to be customer-centric. Let’s have a look at the journey towards customer-centricity at Maersk.

The future is all about the customers

When people think of Maersk, many imagine a whacking great ship with over 20,000 containers on it. That is the company’s legacy. In that context, John Walker says that he is not sure how vital customer-centricity used to be.

“In the past, our customers were just the companies we billed for moving their 20 or 40-foot containers from port A to port B. The future is to be an end-to-end integrated logistics provider, which means we follow the supply chain from raw materials going through factories to the customer’s front door.”

To be able to successfully make this transformation, they need to know a lot more about the customers. So this has been the main focus for John and his team at Maersk.

Customer-centricity should be deep in the culture

When John describes Maersk’s approach to customer-centricity, he asks you to picture a lead singer with his band at a concert.

“Where do you think Maersk is in the picture? At the front, leading the band? This is actually our customer on stage because we believe that being customer-centric is helping our customer shine in front of their customer. Maersk isn’t even in this picture. We’re the lighting crew, the sound engineers and the roadies, John describes.”

He sees it as a humbling acknowledgement that their long-term success hinges on the ability to make the customer shine in front of their customers.

“That is the mindset we must all own and act from,” he says.

At Maersk, customer-centricity means that every colleague must practise customer empathy and see the linkage between what they do and the customer impact.

“Customer-centricity doesn’t come on spreadsheets and in PowerPoint. It is how we behave. It is not just something you turn on when you are talking to a customer. It is culture. It needs to be part of every colleague’s natural behaviour.”

When a company is customer-centric it is not just a few teams that think of the customer. It has to be spread across the organisation. Starting at the very top.

It all begins with the leaders

A part of John’s job is to encourage the leaders at Maersk to stimulate a team culture of ‘customer obsession’. In such a culture, the teams genuinely empathise with customers and employees are encouraged to solve the challenges of today and explore opportunities to shape future value for the customers.

“Leaders should be able to speak with confidence about what customer-centricity means in Maersk, unpack what it means for their function and have personal stories they can tour with to role model customer-centricity.”

At the same time, he mentions the importance of a shared view of the customer. The leaders should do that through data and tools that continuously deepen employees’ understanding of our customers and how to best create value for them.

“Curiosity thrives in a fruitful environment of experiments, data utilisation, and customer interactions. We humbly acknowledge that there is always more to learn through customer interactions, data and experiments”.

John Walker and his team in Customer Insights are using different tools to get a deeper understanding of their customers. Especially when they seek insights into scalable products.

Sonar transforms product insights into actionable outcomes

Maersk has over 40 product teams working with segmentation, but they can only get to a certain point on their own. In order to make insights truly actionable, they often have to be specific to the product.

How do they know what the retailers in India think, feel or do when considering a specific product?

“This is where a platform like Sonars is incredibly helpful. I have tremendous confidence in being able to point Sonar after a stakeholder. Even given the relatively low maturity of our stakeholders, a data-led question will get translated into something commercially relevant, actionable and researchable.”

John Walker goes on to explain that Sonar has given Maersk a reach beyond its own resources when needing a scalable and repeatable model to get quality-controlled insights from its customers.

Maersk uses a range of partners, but Walker highlights Sonar’s ability to conduct scalable online interviews with non-expert stakeholders with a consistency that works globally.

“I feel comfortable pointing the Sonar team at any internal stakeholder. When somebody on our team ‘needs to talk to the customer’, I am confident it will get shaped into a sensible, outcome-based brief,” concludes John Walker.