“Brand Perception is More Important than Brand Awareness”



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The other day I was sitting on yet another Zoom meeting when someone used the phrase above. It struck me immediately because I also happen to believe this is true. How your brand is perceived will matter a great deal more than how aware people are of your brand. A brand (today) is an experience and it should have a personality. And the perception of the brand stems from this.

Brand awareness is exactly that: People are aware of your brand, but that may be the extent. There is no need to buy. I may be aware of Pepsi or I may be aware of McDonald’s or I may be aware of Best Western, but that does not mean that is the brand I will choose. I am also aware of Coke, Chick-fil-A and Marriott, and those will often be the choices I make.

The key is the perception of the brand or how I view the brand image and brand promise. The other point here is that the more the consumer engages with the brand and experiences the brand, the better the perception of that brand. When the brand engages back with the consumer that will only add to the positive impact of brand perception. The better the consumer being engaged feels about how you handle the customer journey, the better their perception and usage of your brand.

There is a great deal of sensory experience that goes with brand perception. It tends to (ideally) engage all your senses. The fact is that all the senses matter: how the brand “looks”, what the “sounds”, “tastes” and “smells” of the brand might be…these are all important to establishing a brand and they all make a difference.

But what matters the most is emotions…

Emotions matter with perception and often play the biggest role. This is what really “binds” us to the brand and is where the real brand perception comes into play. How attached we are to a brand matters a great deal, and it will influence all the other aspects of how we feel about the brand.

So, this brings us back to engagement, which is directly tied to emotions…how the brand engages with us – and how we engage with the brand – can make a big difference on whether we are indifferent (say McDonald’s) or love going in because we feel welcomed (say Chick-fil-A). I love Dunkin’, but the truth is that Starbucks and Panera offer a better user experience. Coke is much more emotional than Pepsi, which is why they have significantly higher market share and brand loyalty. Patagonia and 4Ocean and TOMs are companies that are great at creating emotions that their audience relates to. Apple is also very good at establishing this connection, but Android’s Friends Furever was a worthy return on that. (It is actually surprising how many consumers love Google, but that is an entirely different topic….). Microsoft, on the other hand, took a hit from Apple.

So, how do you know how well you are doing?

There are many platforms on the market that can assist with gauging this effort, and I have used several of them. But the reality is that sometimes, even with massive data, you need to ask. Data collection is crucial as it can help you have a grasp of your perception, but the majority of the tools used to collect data can only take you so far.

So, who should you ask?

If your brand is well known (awareness) you will need to ask long term loyal customers. But you also need to ask newly acquired customers, customers that have left you and customers that will never use your brand. This is the only way you will get a 360-degree view of how your brand is perceived.

For example, I may run an NPS survey, and this will clearly point out who my loyalists and my detractors are. But unless we ask, we may not ever know more than that. We will only know that they love us or hate us, but WHY they love or hate us may never be known. This is where (especially on the loyalists) your advocates and influencers can be found…if you take it to the next level. You want happy customers to share, but you also want to hear from unhappy customers.

Some additional collection points:

  • Use a social mention tool for your brand, and ideally set parameters. This will also help you to find online reviews and where specifically people speak about your brand.
  • Monitor social media…and respond always. To the good and the bad…
  • Surveys, both written/online and also in-person interviews depending on your brand.

On surveys, you must ask the right questions if you want to achieve the best answers. Asking questions that do not provide accurate responses can be more determinantal than helpful. So, ideally, you want to ask questions that are neutral and open-ended. You are hoping that the person responding will provide a great deal of information if there is no expectation and they do not feel influenced.

I will talk on this more in upcoming weeks, as getting the right information and getting accurate information can only help you to build your perception.

Here are some additional articles you may want to read that might help you to think more on this topic:

Adtaxi. (2019, February 12).  Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It. Retrieved from: https://www.adtaxi.com/blog-roll/2019/2/12/brand-perception-what-it-is-why-it-matters-and-how-to-measure-it

Attest. (2018, January 9). 10 Ways to Understand and Shift Your Brand Perception in 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.askattest.com/blog/innovation/10-ways-to-understand-and-shift-your-brand-perception-in-2018

Barrett, J. (2020, January 8). Why Brand Perception Matters and How You Can Measure It. Retrieved from: https://www.getfeedback.com/resources/cx/brand-perception/

Qualtronics. (n.d.). What is brand perception and how to measure it? Retrieved from: https://www.qualtrics.com/experience-management/brand/brand-perception/


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