Brand perceptions are directly tied to profitability. Afterall, branding is at the core of how customers interact with your customer. All other sales and marketing activities are fed by your company’s brand.
Your company’s brand is a unique experience associated with a certain product or service. This means not only the tangible part but also the feeling and aesthetic that sets it apart from the rest.
A good example is the difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Each of these has a large market share, but they have very different brand identities. Much like Cola or Pepsi, in every category there is a logo that pops in your head immediately.
When you think of luxury cars you think: BMW, Mercedes, Audi and so on. These companies associated their brand with sub-categories like luxury and quality. How did they do it? It all starts with knowing exactly what you want your brand to be.
The catch is that the public doesn’t see your brand the way you do. This is called brand perception.
What Is Brand Perception?
The way customers perceive your brand is their own opinion of it, regardless of what you believe it to be. Ultimately, it’s what will be translated into purchases and profits in the end. This doesn’t eliminate the importance of the company’s vision.
Only through specific marketing campaigns can a company change brand perception. In other words, a good marketer’s job is to align the way the public views your products with your vision.
Your brand might also be undermined by external events, scandals or reputational damage.
A CEO of a travel agency, for example, had an idea of creating travel packages for young backpackers. An online survey then revealed that most people choose this agency because of its cheap prices.
This is obviously a problem for the company, since it’s now perceived as low quality. In turn, many potential high paying customers would never consider this agency when traveling. The company has now been associated with cheapness.
Does this mean the company is doomed?
Actually, knowing the exact gap between the brand’s potential and how it’s perceived is the first step to change. Before going over the rest of the steps it’s important to know a few things.
What is Brand Recollection?
Imagine you’re shopping at the supermarket with a list of general products like cereal or juice, for example. But still once you read certain items a brand name pops up in your head. This is what we call brand recall.
The ability of your brand to be remembered within a given category or class. Like Coke in the soda world, or Nike in the sports industry. Having a good brand recall means that your brand is inseparable from the product category itself.
This means that your product is a first choice to many people and gives you a huge edge over competition.
Having a good brand recall doesn’t necessarily mean better brand perception. You can probably count some instances where you remember products very well, but in terms of them being bad.
For instance, most people are aware of McDonalds, but they might not all have positive associations with its brand.
If your company has a poor or negative brand recall, then there is no doubt in need of a change.
Whether that change is in the marketing strategy or the product itself, it starts with gathering data. Like any profession a skilled marketer needs to be able to tell where the problem is to fix it.
How to Measure Brand Perception
There are many ways to measure brand awareness, some more effective than others. However, there is no doubt that no one parameter can give you a conclusive answer as to how well your brand is recalled.
Although using surveys is not as popular as it once was, they are still worth mentioning. The main problem with surveys is that they can sometimes lack objectivity as the way the questions are asked can influence people’s answers.
Another problem is that sometimes people don’t answer truthfully or without bias or pressure.
However, surveys have an advantage over other data gathering techniques in its offering of a sort of open discussion if done correctly. A more effective survey is one that offers open end questions, giving the customer space to speak their mind.
Surveys can also be indirect ways of marketing, in the sense that just by asking about a product you remind them of it.
2. Google Analytics
If you have a website or blog, it’s possible to measure your brand awareness by checking your website’s traffic with Google Analytics. Direct traffic means the amount of people that typed your website URL in their browser, and that is an excellent measure for brand recall.
Organic search is also a good indicator which means that people are more likely to stumble upon your website on search engines when looking for what they want.
The downside is that using traffic stats only measures the online part of your business. Some companies don’t even have a significant online presence but still have very good brand awareness.
It’s important to choose the method that can give you the most reliable figures, not the most complimenting ones.
3. Social Media
Nowadays, there is no surer way to know if you’re popular or not than social media. You can gather a whole lot of information by analyzing your social media stats. For example, your brand’s Twitter followers is a direct indicator to your brand awareness.
You can track the amount of times the brand was mentioned on social media; this practice is called social listening. There are many social listening tools out there that can help you gather all kinds of information.
How to Change Brand Perception
The end game here is to get the people on board with what you say is your brand’s true value. The first step, as mentioned earlier, is to gather as much information as you can on how the public views your product.
The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to match your brand to their needs.
Measuring your brand awareness is not only a quantitative feat but also indicates how your brand is perceived. The next step would be to interpret this data, i.e. knowing what went wrong.
If we use the travel agency example again, it is clear that the problem was the way the service was advertised. The message wasn’t clear enough. But how do we fix this?
A good method is the “one sentence” approach.
Simply, describe what brand perception you want in one simple, clear statement. The next step is to get everyone within the company on board with this statement. Use it as a sort of theme for every advertisement campaign, like a sort of key word in an article.
Changing the entire marketing tactics can do well to refurbish the brand perception. For example: The travel agency wanted to target the youth, so a guerilla marketing campaign could be more suitable for it.
Project Your Message Through Branding
Believing in your brand is very important, but knowing it is practical. You have to be clear on every detail objectively when it comes to your brand’s place in the market. Then you can believe it can do better and actually start making a plan to make it better.
No one can read your mind, in the end it all comes down to how well you can project your vision onto the minds of the customers. Brand perception isn’t set in stone, but in the minds of the customers, and thankfully, minds can be changed.