By Cathie Penhey.
Do you cringe just a little when you think about how your brand is currently perceived?
Perhaps your image has become a bit outdated. Maybe your brand feels a little vanilla – plain, bland and like many others – not distinctive. Or does your brand have a split personality, with more than one character and behaving very differently at different times?
There are probably many strengths to your brand, but perhaps customer perceptions of your brand are less than ideal. So how do you change perceptions of your brand?
Examine the Reality
Brand owners may think they understand exactly what their brand represents. However this image may be more reflective of their aspirations for their brand, rather than the reality of customer opinion. And they tend to inflate brand perceptions, believing it to be more positive than it really is.
Before you can change anything you must firstly gain a clear picture of what people really think – and not what you think they think.
An important first step to improving brand perception is to conduct some research to reveal how you are currently perceived. Quantifiable measurement is important to reduce the bias. The research will provide valuable insights into your brand character and personality and will identify the strengths and weaknesses within your brand perception. It may reveal negative perceptions or misconceptions. You need to take an honest look at the factors driving and killing your brand loyalty. Customer perception is brand reality.
Read about BrandScan™ Brand Perception Survey which is specifically designed to help with this step.
Determine the Ideal
Once you have a clearer understanding of customer perceptions you will be able to think about how you want the brand to be viewed in the future – the ideal. Develop your ideal brand strategy from the reality considering:
- What skills and strengths do you have that align with customer needs?
- What’s different and unique about you?
- Develop a vision for your brand – why we do what we do.
- Talk to your people and define what you stand for.
- Ensure that it is credible, relevant, unique and sustainable.
That’s all very well – you now have a compelling ‘ideal’ brand strategy – but that’s just the first chapter. Your brand image will only change through real change and action.
Think about how you might shape things to bridge the gap between the reality and the ideal perception. Remember that brand perceptions are shaped by the sum of all experiences customers have with your business. It’s not just what you say and how you say it. Customers’ interactions with your brand contribute to their overall perception. And customers make judgement calls about your brand based on word of mouth. All these interactions combined with the messaging you control make up a brand’s perception.
So changing brand perceptions is not just the domain of the marketing department. The brand vision must come to life through everything you do – right across your business.
For that reason it’s important to build the brand experience end to end. Here’s some things to think about:
- Is there something you can change internally to better deliver on your brand’s promise?
- How might you overcome the negative perceptions and hidden issues?
- Develop strategies to change perceptions starting with things that have the biggest potential to have a negative impact on the brand.
- Determine the key customer touchpoints in your service experience that impact on perceptions. Optimise these to align with your promise.
- Think about what you might add to the experience that might surprise and delight customers beyond their expectations and help change perceptions to your ideal.
Remember, a brand’s true identity lies in its perception. Brands are not what they say they are – it’s what your customers think that really matters. Everything you do or say directly contributes to their perception of you. Follow these steps for a new – no longer outdated, vanilla or split personality – brand image.
BrandScan™ Brand Perception Survey is brought to you by BrandFruition, in association with Edmonds Marketing – contact Damien Edmonds to discuss (firstname.lastname@example.org).