A woman in a red sweatshirt stands in a supermarket aisle trying to decide between two different products.

Customer Perception of Your Brand Affects Growth

January 5, 2023

Move the needle so that how potential customers see your brand is how you want them to see it, and grow from that.

Key Takeaways:

  • When it comes to your brand, consumer perception is reality
  • To change their view and differentiate your brand, it must resonate with the right audience, but who is that?
  • First, you must measure your current brand perception. Does it align to your brand’s 3 Keys: purpose, values, and story? 
  • If it doesn’t, it’s time to reshape perception to include your brand’s 3 Keys, and then you’ll be in position to connect to your true target audience whose perception matches more precisely what your brand represents
  • A little story about a candy bar that changed perception and grew 15% in just two years

There’s an adage in the advertising industry: perception is reality. Customer perception of your brand can be quite skewed, so how do you influence the customer perception of your target audience to align with the reality of your purpose, values, and story? Client insights are the key for you to mold your message. You must create a marketing position that resonates and connects with your target audience’s wants and needs while you maintain your authenticity.

When you attract the wrong customer, you won’t be able to experience growth. And when you attract your target audience, you establish a brand identity consumers perceive in a certain way – your way. Let’s look at why customer perception is critical, the audience analysis you must perform, three essentials you must communicate, and how an adjustment in your reality (without compromise) can attract exactly the kind of customer that leads to brand equity and incredible growth.

What is customer perception, and why is it important?

When it comes to marketing, customer perception refers to their awareness, impressions, and opinions of your brand, business, products, and services. It can be shaped from the outside through media reports, social media, and reviews and your own efforts via customer interactions with your brand and marketing. 

Brand perception isn’t necessarily logical. Research has revealed that 95% of purchase decisions are unconscious and made via an emotional connection to the product. Consumers who have a high opinion of and feel good about a brand show that with their loyalty. There are avid discussions all over social media and message boards about the virtues of iPhone vs. Android, Nike vs. Adidas, and Coke vs. Pepsi, for example, and rarely will people have both products at the same time because they have a perception that one is superior.

Customer perception can’t be completely controlled, but it can be shaped through marketing efforts that include deep research into your target audience. Brand perception combines reviews, functionality, social engagement, advertising, and customer use. This means you need data from multiple sources. 

Measure brand perception

What you want are customers who resonate with your purpose, values, and story, but what can you do to determine how these ideal consumers perceive your brand? You want to find your target audience – people who share common traits and are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

With all its data sources, measurement of brand perception and target audience analysis can seem like a formidable task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tools you can use to understand how your current customers, as well as prospects, view your brand. 

  • Collect customer insights. Use your email lists, review platforms (like Google Reviews), and social media to reach out to your current customers. Ask them what they think about your brand and what needs to be improved. 
  • Use brand perception surveys. These will give you some general ideas about what consumers value. This is where you’ll discover the type of buyer who shares your brand values – these are the loyal customers that will help you grow. 

Your audience analysis questions must cover factors that influence emotion, cognition, and action. Some suggested questions include:

  • When you think of [brand], what pops into your mind first?
  • Which of the following [list of words] describes the brand?
  • When you think of [the brand], what kind of emotions arise?
  • When you talk to a friend, how would you describe [the brand]?

Also, inquire whether they’ve had experience with the brand and what that experience was like. Another good question is whether they would recommend the brand to someone else.

  • Monitor mentions online. You can use Google alerts or other online social listening tools to track comments on social media, reviews, hashtags, forums, and any mentions in the news. Be sure to handle negative comments and mentions immediately and stay on top of the buzz about your brand.
  • Conduct a brand audit. Research primary and secondary target audiences, perform a competitive analysis, and take a hard look at your communication strategy. Dive deeply into your brand positioning.

You will also collect customer data from every point of their buyer journey, such as research, evaluation, comparison, interactions with support, the purchase decision, onboarding, and how they interact with your brand after the purchase. Now that you have all this information and know how your brand is perceived, how do you shape perception so you attract only the right customers?

Shape brand perception

Let’s look at an example of a brand that did a remarkable job to shape perception: Snickers candy bars. About 15 years ago, the brand discovered its marketing had veered off-brand and sales were in decline, with a loss of 10% of its market share between 2006 and 2009. The marketing team’s job was to find out just what made Snickers “Snickers.” 

Through their research, the team discovered that the factors that set them apart were that the candy bar relieves hunger, that hunger leads people to not “be themselves,” and that their packaging, logo, and brand colors were instantly recognizable. 

Through refined strategy and guidelines in place to ensure the team conveyed the brand’s purpose and values and told its story in everything they did, they increased global sales by 15% within two years. And since 2012, Snickers has doubled its market share. 

Once you’ve gathered your data, analyzed it, and chosen your target audience, you may find the need to shift customer perception – but bear in mind that their experience with your brand is a living asset that sets your brand and your business apart. 

Carefully craft your message with the 3 Keys

What’s important for people to know about your brand? To attract the right audience, tell your story in a way that clearly conveys your purpose and values. Connect your brand to those critical components in an authentic way that offers details and thus provides a reason to believe.

Make sure your customer service is up to snuff

Your audience expects stellar customer service. This means more than phone calls and emails. Respond to social media comments and offer plenty of information online, not just about your products but all the ways your customers can reach you. Chatbots are fine, but it’s the touch from a real human being that will make your brand stand out as authentic and genuine, two big boons for today’s buyers. 

Be like Snickers

Unify your messaging. Everything you do, from the content on your website to your ads, social posts, and customer service, must be consistent and clearly express and reinforce your brand’s purpose, values, and story. 

You will make your reality their perception when you perform thorough analysis, genuinely know your target audience, and act on what you’ve learned. This shapes your brand into one that stands out, gains more traction, and realizes explosive growth.

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