Understanding what shapes brand perception is fundamental for all businesses and the first step in improving this is to listen to consumers.
- Creating a unique and valuable brand is essential now that consumers are constantly searching for the best brand experience and will not hesitate to switch brands until they find one that suits their needs.
- A positive brand perception means consumers will be more likely to choose a company over its competitors. They are also likely to bring in new customers to the business due to recommendations to friends and family.
- A negative brand perception means they are more likely to choose the competitor brands and possibly tell others why the first brand was not chosen. This is why brand perception is of utmost importance.
After encountering a positive experience with a company, 77% of consumers would then recommend this brand to a friend or family member. This provides brands with word-of-mouth marketing which is indispensable to their marketing strategy. However, before this can be achieved, brands must first ask:
- What do our consumers believe the brand represents?
- What is their view of its products and services?
- How does this perception compare with competitors and the market?
What is a ‘brand’?
A brand is a collection of, “expectations, memories, stories and relationships” (Seth Godin) that drives the decision to choose a business, product or service over a competitor. Essentially, a brand is a mental creation associated with a business. It helps consumers understand and connect to business X over business Y, and therefore they must have a well thought out brand experience so that they stand out in the market.
A contributing factor in forming this perception is a shared experience between the brand and consumer, something the brand voices that will resonate with their audience. Thanks to the rise of social media, consumers have a vast selection of platforms in which they can share experiences and the frequency that people share has similarly increased.
What is brand perception?
A business can often confuse brand perception. They believe they understand what their brand represents, however, this view can sometimes be more reflective of aspirations for the brand as opposed to public opinion of this brand.
Brand perception is not owned by brands, but instead, their consumers. Irrespective of a brand’s message, perception is what an audience thinks and is saying about the brand.
As mentioned previously, consumers have access to a variety of platforms where they can share their perceptions of brands. The easiest way to tap into this and improve brand perception is social listening, where brands have access to large amounts of unedited online conversations.
How do you measure brand perception?
The traceability of social platforms means that businesses can quickly build a clear image of their brand, that reflects current opinions. Through analysing these unedited conversations, brands can grasp what elements are contributing to their perception.
Once gathered, these insights can drive necessary brand changes so that perception increases positively. Similarly, analysing negative conversations will help brands identify and eliminate these consumer issues that could be harming the brand perception.
It is important to note that brand perception is volatile and can change for numerous reasons so, this must be monitored frequently.
What are you searching for?
LinkedIn has recently launched its biggest UK campaign in an attempt to remove ‘stiff’ brand perceptions. This campaign involves their first TV ad that focuses on the experience of job searching for platform members to present a warmer and more human side to the brand.
This campaign, created by BMB, showcases the variety of reasons people decide to search for a new job. The ad includes stories of real people who have found a new occupation through LinkedIn and highlights relatable reasons for joining the job hunt, for example, a pay rise, independence to leave the family home and flexible working hours.
The reason behind this campaign was due to research conducted by LinkedIn across the UK. They found that 40% of participants lacked confidence in themselves and 44% lacked confidence in their work experience when job searching.
“We want to create this new warmer, more human feel to the brand.” Darain Faraz, LinkedIn’s head of brand in EMEA and LATAM.
Continued. “It felt like people were settling for roles that basically weren’t right for them. [It’s] really powerful when you’ve been told real stories of real people who have used the platform to land those jobs. And often it isn’t for big lofty reasons, it is just to get a pay rise, have a lie-in, for everyday reasons.”
This campaign will run for seven weeks, focusing on major UK cities including Birmingham, Bristol, London and Manchester.
Forming part of the larger campaign, LinkedIn is focusing on their ‘In It Together’ repositioning, as they are looking to tell real stories of how their members are successfully using the platform.
The brand team for LinkedIn want to ensure the platform’s marketing is relevant in local markets and this is evident in their month-long Grimsby United campaign, where the protagonists are a local fisherman and cafe worker. The short video aims to demonstrate how connections can help change lives and livelihoods.
“A lot of the usage of LinkedIn and the way our brand is perceived tends to be quite stiff. We want to create this new warmer, more human feel with our member base at its heart.” Faraz.
LinkedIn has acknowledged the need to shift brand perceptions regarding their image, drawing focus to the real stories of their members to lead this change.
Brand perception is a critical part of a business’ marketing effectiveness. Although perceptions can change frequently, they do not have to be a daunting element of the brand experience. Businesses can monitor and implement significant change through simple methods, like social listening, so that their brand perception remains positive.
But before all this, the easiest place to start is answering these questions: How does my product or service resonate with its target audience? Why does it matter? How do consumers feel about my brand? And, how can I measure this?
As LinkedIn has demonstrated, when the correct time and effort is invested into answering these questions, it is possible to shift brand perception into one that not only benefits your target audience but has the potential to reach and resonate with new audiences.