How Deep Does Brand Perception Actually Go?

Brand perception illustration

Think it through: the last time you’ve made a purchase or any other consumer decision on the market, were you 100% rational or did you let emotions kick in?

Be honest! We are all human after all! 

These emotional tensions are the way you perceive a brand. And the way someone perceives your brand is crucial to your sales department. Brand perception (consumer perception) is formed by the reputation and messaging of your brand, visual appeal of the product, and advertising. 

For example, some target audiences may see one brand as toxic and environmentally ignorant so they would never buy from it, while others will find the brand to be convenient and affordable. Brand perception is becoming more and more of a required incentive for the informational environment we are living in today. Establishing a positive emotional connection with a customer is crucial. This kind of customer has a 306% higher lifetime value. All thanks to successful brand perception.

To aid your current or future brand, we’d like to share this article that will tell you what customer perception is and why it is important. So let’s start from the basics…

What is brand perception and why should you care?

Brand perception is the combination of consumer’s emotions that form an opinion about your product, brand, and business after encountering and becoming aware of it. This sentimental mix belongs solely to the consumer, it can’t be freely manipulated. It’s like a spoken word or a statement of art: you can choose what to say but you can’t control the reaction and the way these words are perceived and interpreted.

Brand perception as a collision of a customer and your brand

Brand perception is the sparks that are made by the collision of a customer and your brand. Whenever a person gains a certain experience brought by or concerning your brand, a perception is being formed. This experience can be created before or after purchase: during a promotional campaign, a casual conversation with a friend, media consumption, or just from using the actual product. Therefore, you can actually measure the impact of these experiences by analyzing your brand perception.

Understanding your brand perception is crucial even for small businesses and start-ups, as it helps to better understand the target audience and create relevant and effective communication.

If we are talking about the companies with no brands to perceive, the perception of your competitors’ brands will show you “the dos and don’ts” of your industry. This is exactly what our branding team takes into account while choosing the messaging and tone of voice of a new brand for a client.

Positive brand perception is a great advancement towards gaining the trust and loyalty of a client but you have to remember that the quality of an actual product is the highest priority. A customer satisfied with your product has already a 55.3% chance to become a loyal one. So make sure to develop a quality product/service before counting on cleaning its perception. But in order for that product to survive, you better measure your brand perception from time to time.

The ways how to measure perception

When it comes to measuring brand perception in the digital environment, there are several ways of establishing what your customers really think of you. This way you can quickly react and improve. For your convenience, we’ve grouped them into 3 sections:

how to measure perception?
  • Keeping track of the web reception and analytics
  • Implementing social listening
  • Conducting surveys

Let’s begin by going through all of them!

Keeping track of the web reception and analytics

The first thing you have to do is enable Google Alerts. This way Google will automatically send you a notifying email anytime somebody mentions the keywords you’ve specified. For example, we have set an alert for the “RGray” keyword. This way we will be fully aware of the online reception our brand is receiving from the mentions on websites, directories, and forums. , 

It takes little to no time and effort to complete, so make sure you have signed up for Google Alerts.

In addition to that, an established brand may take advantage of your branded keyword pay-per-click (PPC) data. By checking out the PPC price of the keyword, you will learn about its demand. The higher the price, the higher the demand. High demand means that other brands are using your brand name to target your audience and get a slice of your cake. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your brand name is so good that it is used by others for their own promotion. Your brand name may be notorious for its bad reputation, which is a significant vulnerability when your direct competitors target your audience.

However, simply enabling Google alerts and monitoring the PPC price of your brand won’t give you all the insight you need to form a brand perception. Small brands rarely get mentions online and definitely don’t get targeted by their competitors, so we suggest keeping track of the online reviews. Actively responding and modifying your product/service is considered extremely beneficial. By doing that you’ll not only make your product appeal better to your target audience but also influence your brand perception, as 15% of customers disregard a product with ignored reviews.

Implementing social listening

We are sure that you don’t need an explanation of how big social media has grown,  just take a look at these numbers: with 3.6 billion people using social media, the average time spent socializing is 144 minutes per day. Considering the sheer size and position social media has taken in our culture and routine, you can’t disregard the possibility of even the smallest brand being discussed out there somewhere.

It is impossible to keep track of the entirety of social media without any tools. Our branding team uses Sprout Social to research the brand perception of competitors and industry to create a new brand for our clients. We also use it to conduct social listening in order to manage and audit existing brands of our clients as well as grow their social presence.

Conducting surveys

When it comes to surveys, there are three ways of conducting them:

  • Focus group
  • Volunteer or reward-based online survey
  • CSAT and NPS surveys after completing a purchase

Focus group is kind of old-fashioned but it still works. Investigating what a deliberately picked group of people thinks of your brand and products is, by all means, the most direct way to measure your brand perception. But it is not perfect. There’s a group bias that is blocking the most controversial opinions or simply mimics others. The collected data is hard to process due to its complexity (video or audiotapes of hours-long conversations) while some ideas may be simply incomprehensible to the focus group. As Steve Jobs famously once said:

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

We can’t recommend fully relying on this research method, but it is still worth trying.

Online surveys are much more comprehensive and efficient in their nature. Have you ever gone through a quick survey on a website just out of generosity or filled one in exchange for a promo code? This methodology is times more basic than the focus group method, but if done correctly, it can bring big results. On top of the convenience factor, filling up a survey is a kind of engagement and communication with a client, lead, or prospect that grows your relationships while keeping you informed of your brand perception. There’s a variety of services that allow creating such a questionnaire, but RGray prefers Typeform for its design and features.

CSAT and NPS surveys are spread so widely that they can be encountered almost daily. CSAT stands for Customer Satisfaction score and this is the 3 or 2 emojis under the “How was your experience?” that can be seen anywhere. While being effective in measuring the customer experience, it doesn’t shine any light on the problems or preferences of a customer.

People don’t really pay much attention to these surveys and usually hit the green smiley face just not to explain their neutral or bad experience. Nobody wants to spend time typing a comprehensive explanation or a complaint in public or even in private.

As for NPS, it is basically a more efficient kind of CSAT. NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and it is the “How likely is it that you would recommend Brand X to a friend/colleague?” on a scale from 1 to 10. An effective but yet again not informative way of measuring brand loyalty. Such methodologies don’t make up for consistent information due to the lack of motivation to explain one’s opinion.

The role of brand perception in marketing

After going deep into what brand perception actually means, you have probably noticed that it is blurring the line between branding and marketing. And it really does.

By measuring your brand perception, you discover the strengths and weaknesses of your products that allow constructive further development and change. Conducting a brand audit of your company and its competitors is one of the key tasks to stay relevant. 

Moreover, brand perception is the window to your target audience and its whims. This is enough to describe the marketing aspect in measuring and analyzing your brand perception.

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