Written by Emily

Meet Abbie Lawrence — Brand Labs 2020 Winner

06.08.21
Reading Time 4 MINUTES

In 2020 we received a Brand Labs entry unlike any other. It was from Abbie Lawrence, founder of Consumer Insights Lab — a consumer research company that offers businesses (primarily in the food industry) a holistic view of their target customer behaviour. But it’s not just focus groups and phone calls — Consumer Insights Lab uses qualitative, qualitative and eye tracking methods to gather data. Eye tracking? Yes! In a nutshell, individuals are transported to a virtual supermarket so that Abbie and her team can analyse their buying habits and preferences firsthand.

This might not be news to you — pseudo shopping environments have been created and used by big companies for ages. It’s what allows them to design their packaging and build their brand identity so effectively. But not everyone, certainly not Welsh SMEs, have access to these kinds of tools. Especially not in the way Consumer Insights Lab uses them. It’s this level of expertise, modern take on research and passion for accessibility that makes them so special.

Oh, and the fact that Abbie spent 4 years developing the research framework for conducting user-testing in a simulated environment for her PhD. Honestly, her knowledge, commitment, and in-depth understanding on the industry is something to behold.

Hi Abbie! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

I’m Abbie Lawrence, and I’m a graphic designer, turned academic researcher, turned startup founder. The business is the commercialisation of my PhD research, which was to help Welsh food SMEs increase sales through improving packaging design. We do this by making holistic consumer research accessible to a wide range of companies.

“I had access to facilities and testing methodologies that are much more affordable and accessible, and I had to share this.”

The big question – why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because I want to make a difference. I pursued graphic design because I believe it is really powerful to be able to take complex ideas and information and transform them into accessible forms of knowledge. In this way you’re able to reach more people and effect more change. Fast forward a bit, and I was presented the opportunity to pursue a PhD, where the goal of the research was to increase sales for Welsh Small to Medium Enterprises by improving their packaging designs. I jumped on this project because I saw this as an opportunity to affect change in a largely unsustainable and unbalanced industry from the inside out.

By the end of my research, I successfully developed a cost-effective facility and framework for commercial user testing. I had access to facilities and testing methodologies that are much more affordable and accessible, and I had to share this.

What made you apply for Brand Labs?

It was a month into setting up the business and I had been wracking my brains on how I’d brand Consumer Insights Lab. Being a graphic designer I knew a good brand would be vital for this company, but I was too close to the project to do it any justice. I was taking a break from researching different funding streams when I saw the call for the Brand Labs competition on instagram. I didn’t believe it was real when I saw it at first.

Branding is so critical for any company, and here was a chance to work with an incredible design agency to make yours a reality. In a state of disbelief, I applied straight away.

“Having a team of people believing in you and in what you do so much that they are excited to help you achieve your dream – it’s beyond motivational.”

What was the most valuable thing you got out of Brand Labs?

Every aspect of Brand Labs was invaluable, however I think the team’s enthusiasm for my idea was what made all the difference in my start-up journey. Starting your own business can be a very isolating experience, but having a team of people believing in you and in what you do so much that they are excited to help you achieve your dream – it’s beyond motivational.

Especially having set up in the middle of Lockdown, having the team’s support and confidence in me held me to account and pushed me to work through any obstacles that came my way.

How did you find the Brand Labs application and interview process?

I got a lot out of the application and interview process. The application was simple, but very insightful – the questions made me reflect on the business as well as myself as an entrepreneur. The interview was conducted virtually due to lockdown, however the team made me feel very welcome and at ease straight away. I was asked very poignant questions which accelerated my own understanding of the company, the direction I wanted to take it, as well as what the company stands for.

Describe your overall experience with Brand Labs in 3 words.

Exciting, insightful, reassuring.

“I cannot put into words how I feel about the final result. I am over the moon with the branding and the website design.”

How did you feel about the final result?

I cannot put into words how I feel about the final result. I am over the moon with the branding and the website design. designdough got to the crux of what Consumer Insights Lab is. The team were able to take my incoherent ramblings and turn it into exactly what was needed, which was far beyond my imagination.

How have your brand and website impacted your business?

The branding alone has accelerated my company months if not years ahead of schedule. As a business to business company I need to make sure that my branding and website are ready before I can approach potential clients. Brand Labs made Consumer Insights Lab market ready within my first 6-months.

“I am much more confident approaching potential clients because I have a solid brand and website.”

How has having a solid brand impacted your confidence as a business owner?

I’m terrible at selling myself and as a result, not great at selling my business – this isn’t ideal when you’re a business owner. However, having won Brand Labs and getting a full brand and website design, the pressure is taken off me because the brand can speak for itself. I am much more confident approaching potential clients because I have a solid brand and website that reflects what Consumer Insights Lab does and our ethos.

If anyone is on the fence about applying this year, what would you tell them?

Please apply, you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Even if you are not successful in your application, the questions themselves will help you streamline your business and get a clear understanding of what it is you do and how you want to do it.

To learn more about Brand Labs 2021 and how to apply, click here.