Drawn Agency

5 Reasons Why We Need a New Name for 'Research'

I love to immerse myself in research projects and emerge with insights that help our clients build stronger connections with the people they serve. Few professional experiences compare. The word research, however, I have a problem with. Here’s why:

1) Research implies seeing, but doesn’t require doing.

A company can spend tens of thousands of dollars on research and have nothing but a binder full of reports to show for it. We’ve seen these binders. You probably have, too. In my mind, a commitment to research is also a commitment to act, to do something in light of your findings to better your brand.

2) Research is often independent.

All too frequently, a firm executes the research, and then independent people or teams actually analyze it and use it. We’ve structured Drawn so that we all play together in the sandbox; those who lead the research at Drawn integrate directly with creatives so that our research informs every aspect of every project.

3) Research encourages detachment.

My graduate school research courses taught me that researchers are supposed to remain removed from their objects of study, but I’ve since seen the enormous value to our clients when we immerse ourselves in their world. Our insatiable desire to know and understand takes us into the depths of the problems our clients seek to solve. We resurface with invaluable insights that we simply would never detect if we simply conducted research at the surface level. We believe that Jane Goodall’s research would have been worse, not better, if she’d hidden up in a tree.

4) Research imposes itself on people.

Research feels like a chore. Like something that we do to people, not with them, and certainly not for them. You’ve likely received a phone call from someone who said that she was conducting research. Immediately, this type of remark implies that the research is happening to you. The caller doesn’t really care about you; just your responses. She’s collecting data like a farmer harvests wheat. At Drawn, we have a human-centric approach to research and a high regard for the people who participate in our studies.

5) Research doesn’t require translation.

The value of a firm’s ability to conduct research is as much in their aptitude for translating the data as it is in collecting it. If clients don’t recognize the insights that emerge from our research, I hesitate to say that it has any value. This is why we don’t just print and bind our findings for presentation to clients. We make the presentations of our findings into experiences that engage and inform our clients, so that we can work together to create actionable strategies and effect positive change.

Research can help us accomplish great things, but it’s name just doesn’t do it justice. Is there a better term? Something more human and less sterile? I can’t think of one. Any ideas?

— Andrew Robinson