Brand Institute is one of the most popular survey panels amongst people with medical background. However, as you’ll find out in this review, this site is not exclusive to pharmacists and nurses.
In fact anyone can become a member here, but the misconception that this is an exclusive club for doctors, physical therapists and nurses has kept many ordinary folks from joining the site.
But before you even consider signing up, let’s answer the question of “is Brand Institute legit?”. And to do that, I have registered with the site, done some research on its background, how it works, and people’s opinion about it.
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Brand Institute Inc
Since 1993 when it was founded, this marketing research firm has been offering its market research expertise in a wide variety of industries like pharmaceuticals, consumer products and many more.
This panel counts more than 7 million people around the world as members, whose feedback is instrumental in developing a number of different products/services related to the healthcare industry and further.
The company owns the DSI (Drug Safety Institute), a subsidiary that comprises of former nomenclature experts from major organizations like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), USAN Council, Health Canada, and WHO (World Health Organization).
Besides that, these safety experts have also worked extensively with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the EMA (European Medicines Agency).
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A lot of people think of Brand Institute as a panel that works almost exclusively with pharmaceutical giants. And although a fair number of this company’s surveys are based on health or drugs; that is not the case with all its surveys.
The firm is also associated with many major multinational companies including Starbucks, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Abbott, IBM, Wrigley’s, Fruit of the Loom, BASF and many more.
Profile on The Better Business Bureau
With the kind of reputation this company enjoys, I expected them to offer membership for free and I wasn’t disappointed. However, I couldn’t express the same happiness when I saw how the company fared with the BBB.
Starting off, the company doesn’t have BBB accreditation. However, its absence isn’t a complete red signal of sorts. There are many legitimate companies out there doing an amazing job without accreditation from the BBB. It’s a different matter altogether that this holds true vice versa as well.
But the thing that disappointed me the most was that it held an F rating from the BBB. This is the lowest rating that any company can be awarded (or rather punished) with.
On scratching the surface I found that there were only a handful of complaints against the site. However, those few complaints did look quite serious. Now we are not able to see through the details of these filed complaints. However, the BBB can and obviously they were grave enough to warrant an F rating for the site.
That said, I also noticed another Brand Institute profile on BBB with an A rating. It seems like each branch of the company (this one is located in Durham, NC) has its own profile, which is something common, since the Better Business Bureau profiles companies based on their locations. But company’s Corporate Headquarters is in Miami, Florida.
All said and done, I still harbored a desire to give this panel a shot as most of the reviews I had read from users about the site were positive. This included opinions from the various forums and paid survey review sites such as Survey Police and Ripoff Report.
Sign up Process
Registering with Brand Institute is a straightforward process, which is something you’d expect considering the company’s age (close to 20 years!).
Once you fill up the basic fields of information, you are asked whether you belong to the field of healthcare. This is because the site hosts a number of surveys that pay such folks well. Of course since I have no medical background, I ticked ‘No’.
After filling out all information boxes, you are sent a confirmation email to the ID you submitted. It’s important you receive this mail and click on the link contained by it as otherwise; your registration won’t be completed.
Among the first few things I look for when joining new survey panels is a provision to tell the sites a bit about myself. A lot of people tend to gloss over this but it’s highly imperative if you intend to make yourself eligible for as many surveys as possible.
It took very little time to fill-in details regarding my interests, hobbies, pets and my primary means of transportation. After that, I turned my attention towards the surveys and what they had to offer!
While looking around for any available survey, I ran into a surprising thing. It seems that you are unable to answer every open survey on the site unless you possess a VIP membership. Instead, you’ll have to wait for invitations sent via email. Once you are regular in answering those surveys, your membership is upgraded to the VIP category.
This VIP program was first launched by the site in September 2009. Once you have VIP membership, you can click on the ‘Open Surveys’ link in your account page to know more about available surveys (you can avoid waiting for survey invites this way).
As far as I know, applying for a VIP membership is possible only after you are a “regular” member for 6 months at the very least.
Brand Institute pays its members in cash (ranging from $2 to $30 or even higher) for every survey completed. This could either be through PayPal or a check.
The site also hosts surveys for consumers apart from medical/health professionals and as such, everyone can join in.
Most general surveys pay in the region of $2-$5 while medical-related ones usually pay $5 or higher, which makes the panel immensely popular with medical professionals.
One of the things I liked about this survey site is that there’s no minimum amount for cashing out. Once a survey gets closed (typically in around 3-4 weeks), your payment is issued automatically.
VIP members also stand to earn rewards by way of referrals. Here is a screenshot of the sample referral payment chart that they have put up:
So, they do pay generously for every person you recruit. Although, right under the picture (you can’t see it in the picture above), the fine print reads “Payment amount is based on recruiting 5 medical professionals and 3 non-medical respondents.”
That said, to be fair, even with that, their referral program is far more generous that many other panels, except Survey Savvy.
Reviews from Other Panelists
One thing that became amply clear to me was that there were two distinct views of the site; while one comprised of medical professionals who loved the site for its regular survey invitations and the good pay per survey, the other comprised of people outside the healthcare field having to put up with lesser pay and even lesser survey invitations.
The bad news is that things are indeed not very good for the latter category as survey invitations are quite rare.
- Once an invitation comes your way, you do stand to earn well from the same. And since they always pay either via PayPal or check, the cashing out process is made easier (I, for one, have never taken a liking to the reward points system).
- What further tilts the scales in this particular site’s favor is the absence of any minimum amount limit for payouts. So once you finish a survey worth $5, you can cash out that amount immediately.I have read so many accounts of members stating that the least amount they’ve received for taking a survey was 15.00 dollars. That is far better than what most sites pay nowadays.
- Most people seem to agree on one point and that is the fact that their surveys are always interesting and engaging.There was one account of a former member who subscribed from the panel because “I signed up with them but didn’t get a survey invite until about a month or 2 later.”
- Lastly, many people seem to find Brand Institute’s paid surveys a touch intense compared to others. Most surveys need you to tick boxes or perform other similar simple tasks, but this site is different. This one designs its questions to actually get inside your mind and know more about your opinions.
BI is very much a legit site that pays quite impressively as well. This is truer in case of survey panelists with a medical background.
That said, this survey panel is quite stingy in terms of sending survey invitations. If, however, you are a pharmacist or even a nurse, joining Brand Institute is an absolute MUST.
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