Updated 9 months ago by Oskar Duberg
In an age where buying decisions are based on feelings, and customers are loyal to brands they deem likeable, brand perception is everything. It affects your customer acquisition and conversion rates. It plays a major role in your churn. And it impacts your bottom line.
That means, to acquire and keep customers, you need to help people see your brand in a positive light and feel positive emotions when they interact with it. So, let’s cut to the chase. What exactly is brand perception and how do you know what your customers think and feel about your brand?
Let’s start with the basics. Brand perception is how people – whether they’re your customers or not – view your brand. It’s the opinion they have about your quality, your integrity, and your value system.
Brand perception is also how your customers feel when they come into contact with your brand – whether that’s your digital assets, physical products or human capital. And it all boils down to a positive or negative association.
This answer may seem like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Your brand perception is all about your reputation. With a good reputation, you’ll have a strong customer base and sell more products. With a weak reputation, your customers will leave for competitors, which will cause sales to plummet. Beyond that, your brand perception can also affect partnerships, hiring, and other customer-facing activities.
The tricky thing about brand perception is you can’t create it. You can’t walk up to people on the street or connect with them online and tell them what to think or feel about your brand. However, you can influence it. You can do and say specific things to generate positive public opinion and discussion around your brand.
Before you can start doing that, though, you need to know how people feel about your brand. Here are a few actionable steps you can take to understand the current perception people have of your brand.
Companies make some of their biggest blunders when they make assumptions about their audience. You see it all the time in the news and on social media. A company tries to do something new or be inclusive, and it backfires gloriously, because they didn’t understand their audience’s feelings on the subject.
As a result, they’re left to deal with the fallout: people making jabs at the misstep on social channels, the blunder being criticized on television, and the hit their brand perception takes with customers and prospects. And the sad thing is, all of it could have been avoided, if they’d simply understood their audience better.
That’s why knowing your audience on a deeply personal level is the first and most important thing you can do for your brand perception. The better you understand their interests, goals, pain points, and desires, the better you can level with them. And the more clearly you understand what offends them, bores them or doesn’t resonate with them, the better you can avoid it.
It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes than to repeat them. This sentiment isn’t just a lesson for your personal life, it applies to your business as well.
And who better to learn from than your competitors? After all, they’re not only selling similar products and services, but they’re also targeting similar segments of people, talking about similar topics, and solving similar problems.
So, learn from them. Look at the things they’re doing well and figure out why those things worked. Look at their blunders and flops too. What lessons can you take away to safeguard your own brand perception? Are there taboo subjects you shouldn’t talk about? Are there design elements that offend people? Take note of them.
Remember that this isn’t a copy-cat exercise, though. The idea is to learn more about your audience. And as you do, you’ll find new things you can do for them and discover ways you can modify or improve your branding.
You can’t effectively improve the public’s perception of your brand, if you don’t know where it stands. So take the time to figure it out. Have conversations with prospects and customers about their feelings toward your brand. Read and listen to customer reviews. Dive into social channels and follow hashtags and posts that discuss your employees, marketing campaigns, and products. Read blogs and articles that mention your brand by name. See how people answer questions about your brand on forums.
Make sure you look at all of this data in an objective and analytical way. In some cases, complaints may be rare or inconsistent with the general public’s opinion. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carefully consider them, but it does mean you should take them with a grain of salt.
Ultimately, the idea is to gain an understanding of your brand’s current perception, so you can start moving in an onward and upward direction.
Managing your brand perception is hard. It requires a lot of patience, introspection and strategy. But, by putting in the work to get to know your audience and monitor their feelings about your brand, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits – both short and long-term.