My Review of Brand Insitute

by Spencer Mitchell on November 13, 2012

WARNING: I do NOT recommend Brand Insitute.

I highly recommend that you join Ipsos I-Say because it’s a MUCH better-paying survey panel.

Brand Institute isn’t your daddy’s survey panel. While they do offer “normal” surveys for the general population, this particular survey panel is geared towards medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses and physical therapists. So if you’re a health care professional you definitely want to consider this site as they tend to pay upwards of $50 per survey to people in that work in field.

But even if you spend your days in an office — and not a hospital — you should read my review to see whether or not Brand Institute is a solid and trustworthy site.

What You Need to Know

Unlike most survey panels, this company started before the web. In 1993 they officially launched their business to help corporations brand their products and services better. Flash forward to 2012 and they now offer similar services, but with a digital twist. And for our purposes, they have a large market research department that acts as a survey panel.

According to their website they boast over 356 clients. This is important for us survey panelists as more clients generally means more survey opportunities.

And like most panels, this one has a specialty: branding.

Before signing up I took a look as some credibility indicators (besides the fact that they had been in business for so long which is always a good sign). As I expected from a company with their long-standing reputation, they offered free memberships to all (a must for any survey panel).

However, I was a bit concerned when I came across their BBB profile, which you can see here. First, they’re not accredited by the BBB. This actually isn’t the end of the world as businesses don’t need to be BBB accredited. There are plenty of legit companies without BBB accreditation (and vise versa).

What irked me was their F rating…which is the worst a company can receive by the BBB. Digging deeper, I noticed that they only had a few complaints, but the few they had were pretty serious. Although you aren’t able to view the particulars of filed complaints, the BBB obviously does, and deemed them serious enough to dole out an F rating.

That being said, I still wanted to give them a shot because user reviews that I’ve seen on forums and user feedback sites like Survey Police were positive.

Inside the Brand Institute

As you may expect from a company that’s been doing business for almost 20-years, their sign-up process was simple and straightforward (I’m always surprised by the number of established survey panels that mess up their first impression).

Here is what the registration form looks like:

Brand Institute Registration Form

After you fill in these basics they will ask you whether or not you’re in the healthcare field as they tend to have higher paying surveys for those folks. Unfortunately, my only experience with healthcare has been doling out Tylenol to my two kids when they get the flu, so I checked off “no”.

Once you’ve filled out everything they’ll send you a confirmation email. It’s important to look for that and click on the link or else you won’t be registered as an active member.

Whenever I join an online surveys for money panel one of the first things I look for is an opportunity to tell them more about myself. Many people lazily skip this step but it’s really important if you want to qualify for the maximum number of surveys per panel.

This is a screenshot of the types of questions you’ll be asked (under the “lifestyle” tab):

Lifestyle Section in the Member's Are

I spent a few minutes telling them about my hobbies, interests, primary mode of transportation and my pets. Then it was time to see the surveys that they offer!

I was a bit surprised to find that you can’t simply peruse the open surveys that they have available unless you’re a VIP member. Apparently you only receive invitations via email. If you participate in those on a regular basis you’ll be upgraded to VIP.

While most people would be turned off by this, as a serious survey panelist, I’m a huge fan of panels that separate their users into tiers. Because I always give each survey question the attention it deserves I expect to be rewarded for my extra effort (which rarely happens). And panels that offer something extra for hard-working people like me get a gold star in my book.

Unfortunately, you have to belong to the site for AT LEAST 6-months before you can even be considered for VIP membership. That’s of a long-time if you ask me.

So far I’ve been a member of theirs for a few days and haven’t received any invitations as of yet. This is something I’ve seen reported on several other sites as well. Speaking of user reviews…

Reviews From Real Users

Because I wasn’t able to take a single survey (and didn’t want to wait to post something about the site) I’m going to look around and summarize the current public opinion of the Brand Institute. Obviously, as the invitations roll in and I take a few surveys I’ll update this review.

The first thing I noticed is that there tends to be two camps when it comes to this panel: health care professionals that love the site due to the consistent invitations and high payments and those not in the health care sector that complain about the lack of invitations. If you’re in the latter group I wouldn’t hold your breath for invitations. They come very, very rarely.

That being said, when you do get invited you do get paid fairly for your time. Also, they pay via check or PayPal, which is always appreciated (I don’t have the time or energy to think in rewards points).

Another feature people seem to like is the fact that they don’t have a minimum payout amount. So if you get invited to a $5 survey and finish it, you can get that $5 deposited into your PayPal account.

Finally, people tend to report the surveys are a bit more intense than some others. Many surveys require you to simply check boxes or other near-mindless acts. Not the Brand Institute. They actually want to pick your brain and hear your opinions about the questions that they’re asking you.

In short, this panel may not be worth your time as invitations are exceedingly rare. However, if you’re a nurse or pharmacist, this is THE panel to join. And if you have questions, feel free to reach out to them using their contact us page or their profile on LinkedIn.

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