Whether it’s your dad recommending a Toyota because they make the most reliable cars, or your Grandmother insisting Janome produce the best sewing machines, or your kids are crying for McDonalds and/or KFC, that is brand perception at work.
Whilst a brand has an identity and a personality established by its creator, brand perception is owned by consumers. It relates to the current opinion of the brand, existing in the minds of the target market. As social media and blogging have become staples in digital marketing and communication, the way a brand is perceived has never been more important to the marketing mix than it is right now. Digital commentary has the power to influence the opinions of the masses, so it’s imperative that each customer has a positive experience.
Brand identity and personality can go hand in hand with brand perceptions. After all, if you own a business and you’re actively displaying good goals and values, actively engaging with your community and audience, it’s natural to assume this will result in a positive public perception. However, this may not always be the case as perception covers many different areas. If you want to know how to increase brand perception, you’ll first need to understand how these perceptions are formed, and what the areas of impact are. Some of the different themes of brand perception include:
- Quality – if you’re selling products, are they high quality? Like Grandma’s sewing machine, products need to be dependable to build a positive association with your brand and keep the customers coming back time-after-time. You may have the best marketing plan in the world, but if you’re supplying a product that breaks down, or cooking food that misses the mark, or shipping items that don’t match their online description… your brand perception will decline.
- Value – for most consumers, value is calculated as a cost-to-quality ratio. Individuals set their own standards here, but ultimately everyone is looking to pay for what they get. That’s why Dads love Toyota. They know they’re getting a safe, reliable, high-quality vehicle without the price tag of an Audi or a Mercedes. It’s also why most people don’t lose any sleep when the pen they bought at the dollar shop only lasts a week.
- Reputation – Perceptions based on reputation are derived from your behaviour, ethics, values and company history. This is where your brand personality comes in. Positive interactions with customers will build a positive reputation (alternatively, negative interactions foster a poor reputation). When you need to search something on the internet, do you immediately go to Google? Most internet users do, and that’s because they have the best reputation.
- Aesthetics and appeal to the senses – Is your brand visually appealing? Does it appeal to the other senses too – smell, sound, taste and touch? All of these can impact your brand perception. That’s why persistent kids end up happily eating from the Golden Arches while their more health conscious parents munch on a Big Mac and dream of dinner at the Sushi Train. Children recognise the brand visually, and inexplicably find pleasure in the other senses too (like smell and taste). Other examples include your favourite perfume, deodorant or even coffee pods. Our senses have a huge impact on how we perceive brands, and how we make a purchase decision when faced with various options.
Understanding your community and target market is key to maintaining a positive public perception. Are they young? Budget conscious? Aesthetically driven? Make sure your products or services are designed to fill the brief. People are different, but there will be commonalities in their experiences. The brands that are perceived well are those that are willing to listen to feedback, both positive and negative, and make changes accordingly.
The power of social influence can be harnessed to take control of brand perception. If you’d like to know more about the impact of brand perception on your business, or would like help utilising social media and digital marketing tools to assist in building on your existing brand image, please feel free to call the experts at Kis Marketing on (02) 4934 4556.