How is your Brand looking?
They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ but in marketing there are no guarantees that the words that we use to create and build our brand picture are the same words that our target audience think of when they see our brand.
As brand marketers we understand and value the importance of delivering a consistent brand across all that we do however even the most popular of all leading global brands still generate a myriad of consumer reactions, some of which are not quite as positive as the brand would require for sustainable growth.
Since the accelerated rise of the digital market place, now more than ever as brand custodians we must remain vigilantly aware of what our consumers really think and feel about our brand so that we can adjust our marketing strategies and tactics accordingly.
The power of Consumer Perception
As consumers of hundreds and thousands of products and services daily, each one of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, have the power to impact the rise or demise of any particular brand. Our everyday choices to sample, buy, use, re-use, share, recommend, acknowledge, reject or dismiss play a critical part in the sustainable growth and development of each of the products and services that we interact with.
Granted that we are only one single individual in the potential global target market of billions, when our choices and behaviours follow the same patterns of a much larger market segment then consolidation leads the way.
Perception versus Reality
If we could guarantee that the way that we portray a message, an image or an idea would be received exactly the same way by our audience, then our assignment as brand developers would rely more on our ability to be effective communicators and less on the need to consumer behaviour psychologists.
Sadly, this isn’t the world that we live in and for many of our brands the gulf between what we say about our brand (reality) and what the consumer says about our brands (perception) can be quite expansive at times.
Why a Consumer’s Perception is their Reality
Personal perception makes it possible for two people to look at the same object and see two different things. Operating as the invisible filter between what we see and experience and the way that we process and store this information, our perception creates the framework through which we view everything around us. Every second of every minute our brains absorb information from a host of external stimulation. Through the perception process we recognize and interpret these stimuli through a personal lens which creates our personal sense of reality.
Unlike true reality (the state of how things actually are) perception is a physiological process. Sensory information that is gleaned from our environment is processed through a personal filter, a complex set of influencing factors that include: personality characteristics, attitudes, values and past experiences.
In marketing, we call the process of gathering sensory information to generate our personal opinions about specific brands, consumer information processing, a 4-stage process that involves: sensation, attention, interpretation and retention.
When a consumer has a positive brand perception the likelihood that they will choose your brand over that of a competitor will be high, whilst a negative brand perception will generally push the consumer over to a competitor’s brand.
Understanding your Consumer’s Perceptions
To impact our consumers perceptions, we must first identify and understand critical insights about our consumers. Often, especially if we are responsible for a well-established brand, we fall into the trap of assuming that we know a great deal about our consumers and how they perceive and interact with our brand.
Like a physical relationship, the perception that a consumer has with your brand is ever evolving. The more that they interact and experience the brand the greater the likelihood that their perceptions will change.
At creative excellence, one of the benefits of partnering with clients as external consultants is the opportunity to conduct branding audits with an unbiased view of past and future performances. Through the process of dissecting a brands’ operating and marketing foundations we get a very clear picture of the how the brand actually sits within the current marketplace and are able to identify those areas where consumer reality and perception may have drifted apart.
How is your Brand being Perceived?
The process of learning more about your consumers and their personal brand experiences will require some level of consumer research, the complexity, cost and timing of which will be based on your organisation’s strategic goals.
Whilst completing a full brand audit may not necessarily be the viable option for your brand at present, learning more about your consumers and their perceptions of your brand is something that should be a regular part of your branding strategy.
The more that you understand how your consumers, live, think and interact with your brand the greater your capacity to draw valuable insights into your brand development strategies.
As a starting point you may wish to check out our simple Brand Questions PDF below which will give you a selection of branding questions that you can use to get started.
If you’d like more information or assistance relating to consumer/brand perception please take this opportunity to contact creative excellence today.
As an Integrated Marketing Strategist with over 20 years’ experience in brand marketing, roslyn whately knows what it takes to keep a brand relevant, profitable and sustainable.