“Perception is reality” is one of those sayings that sounds more relevant than it truly is. Yet when it comes to brands and marketing, brand perception truly is every bit as important as brand reality. While they are not one in the same, it is the marketer’s job to deliver a clear and consistent brand message to bridge the gap between intent and perception. Instead of saying “perception is reality”, it may be more accurate to say that your brand is only as strong as the way in which it is perceived.
With this in mind, today we will define brand perception, discuss the relationships between brand metrics, brand perception, and brand reality, and identify some ways in which brands can close the gap between intended brand message and public brand perception.
What is Brand Perception?
Brand perception is not easily measurable because it is not easily defined. At its most basic level, a consumer’s perception of your brand is a combination of these two things:
- What the consumer knows about your brand. This can include concrete branding identifiers like logos, brand personality identifiers like high energy or luxury, or just flat out facts about your brand like when it was founded or who owns the company.
- How the consumer feels about your brand. Emotions are more complex than basic knowledge. How the public perceives your brand is a complex amalgamation of every interaction they have ever had with your brand either directly or indirectly.
This is an extremely oversimplified explanation of how individuals might view or perceive your brand. It is important to understand that while marketing campaigns may only have a direct influence on item one on this list, an effective campaign will also certainly impact item two as well. Effective branding creates an emotional memory in the individual which will stick with them over time and change how they feel about your brand.
Brand Metrics, Brand Perception, and Brand Reality
Brand perception truly is brand reality as far as the public is concerned. Yet intended brand reality does not always align with the message received by the public. So how exactly do we measure how close public brand perception is to our intended brand reality? It starts by understanding perception, reality, and brand metrics.
Brand perception is how the public or a particular individual views your brand. Before you begin to quantify and study brand perception you should first concede that even the perfect brand strategy will not instill the desired perception in every single customer.
Brand reality is your brand at its core. Whether or not your message is getting across accurately, all strong brands have a core identity, brand message, brand personality, and even a brand positioning statement. In the same way that Plato posited that it was impossible to build the ideal chair in reality, only in theory, so too is it true that executing an ideal marketing strategy is a fool’s errand. The key is to bridge the gap between brand perception and brand reality as much as you possibly can (more on this below).
Brand metrics are ways to measure your brand strength including visibility, sales, favorability, awareness, preference, and much more. Brand metrics are an invaluable tool when it comes to determining how close your brand perception is to your intended brand reality. Are you trying to convey energy and excitement and your customers are buying your product for its value? Are you trying to convey luxury and your customers are not sold on the quality of your products? These are examples of questions that can be answered through brand metrics and data analysis.
Bridging the Gap Between Intended Brand Message and Real Brand Perception
Let’s say you have gone through the steps of a deep dive brand metrics assessment and identified your problem areas. The next steps might vary dramatically depending on the outcome of that assessment. Many failures in conveying a brand message stem from a misunderstanding of customer need-states. Still others come from a lack of strong brand identity.
No matter what your individual problem may be, the key will always remain in balancing brand consistency vs. brand adaptability. Fail to make significant changes in your branding strategy and you may be left with marketing materials that don’t address customer needs and concerns. Make too many changes too fast in your branding strategy and you risk confusing and/or alienating your customers. Try to always listen to customer feedback without losing your brand’s core message.
Brand Strategy and Analysis From Clock Tower Insight
At Clock Tower Insight, we turn data into business solutions. By maximizing brand positioning, CX management, moments of influence, and more, we help build our clients brands in the short and long term. Clock Tower Insight believes that happy customers equal a happy business. We work closely with clients to tailor their brand from top to bottom in order to maximize positive image, exposure, and sales.
To learn more about how we may be able to help your business grow, read about our 15 plus years of focused experience working with brands such as Starbucks, Kraft, McDonald’s, and much more.