Behind the Brand of Vision Critical

Over a plate of butter chicken and rice on Beatty Street in Vancouver, I converse with Matthew Walko, Marketing Manager at Vision Critical. Focused and driven, Walko is passionate about marketing and working for a company that specializes in online market research. He’s also really smart.

With so many facets to Vision Critical, I was curious about their approach to marketing.   Head over to their site and see for yourself: it’s a hive mind experience.  Articles and polls jump out at you, offering a glimpse into both the creative and analytical body of Vision Critical.  Their focus is not about hiding what they know: they’re already five steps ahead and simply making sure the rest of the market is aware. Perhaps others will learn a thing or two along the way.  “We believe in offering free content online, in an effort to add value to our clients and the industry at large,” explains Walko.

The scope of Vision Critical is huge.  They’ve brought polling (traditionally done door-to-door or over the phone) to the digital age.  They are the first company to combine online polling with a dedication to implementing visual engagement into their research.  “It’s about pushing boundaries,” explains Walko.  “We provide a unique mix of disciplines to our clients in combining interactive technology, research, and panel expertise.  By offering an online panel of 5,000 individuals, companies can conduct quantitative research, then break that down into groups of say, 300 and provide in-depth community-based research and analysis.  All of this research takes place under the roof of our core product, Sparq which is an enterprise level, all-in-one research platform.”  For Walko and the Marketing team at Vision Critical, the task is simple: determine the research needs of Fortune 1000 companies and convey to their organizations holistic solutions using various marketing tactics:  Events, PR, social networking, content development, ads, blog posts and so on.

I ask Walko about his thoughts regarding the overall branding of Vision Critical. “From an internal standpoint, our brand breaks down into three core areas. Whenever we approach how we’re going to promote the company, we ask ourselves:  is this engaging? Intelligent? Will industry leaders be inspired?”  For the marketing team at Vision Critical, the focus is offering value to market leaders by showing how they will benefit from using the research products and services Vision Critical offers.  “We get excited about showing prospects the possibilities that are available to them when technology and research are combined. At the end of the day, we believe the difference of why some companies perform better then others comes down to knowledge. Insight is what makes the difference.”

Externally, the brand’s focus is on being the thought leaders in the market research industry. “Brands can put various stakes in the sand to define who they are and their go-to market strategy. Our flag is planted on the mountain of thought leadership.  We are leading thinkers in this industry.  We have extremely bright people working for us and believe our industry as a whole should benefit from their work. That’s why the Vision Critical site doesn’t put barriers between visitors and our knowledge.”

Finally, I asked Walko about how Vancouver plays into the overall brand of Vision Critical.  “Vancouver is a great city with an engaging mix of employee skills in the interactive space. There’s a rare combination of technology experts and visual artists here working in various mediums, especially in the gaming industry.  Many of these employees have played a key role in pushing the boundaries of visualization and engagement in our research at Vision Critical. We’re a private company that’s expanded our operations on a global scale, which is rare for Vancouver-based tech companies. As we open up offices in new cities, it’s important to find cultures with similar qualities and skill-sets as Vancouver. It’s great to work in a city that is as multi-faceted as our company.”

Although they are based in Vancouver, Vision Critical is taking huge strides in expanding their operations abroad.  Last year, they made 109 hires worldwide and have already hired an additional 90 people in 2010.  Their office expansions and relocations are wide and diverse: Paris, London and Sydney to name a few.  They plan to roll out their interactive research solutions to The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Spain as well.  With this much expansion, Vision Critical is truly becoming a global operation that is setting the bar high for the market research industry.