Perception is everything for businesses – because if customers (potential or existing) don’t have a positive perception of a company, they won’t work with or for, or buy from, them. Of all the brand-related activities a business takes part in and attempts to shape, the Brand image is perhaps the trickiest; and it’s certainly not recognised for its importance as it should be.
Here at Feefo, we offer tools that offer up a real-time snapshot of brand image alongside tangible resources to improve, enhance and develop it.
What is a brand image?
Brand image is often confused with brand identity, but the differences are fairly clear-cut. Brand image is the perception that those not working in or with the business hold of it. Brand identity is the overall identity and messaging put out to try and form that consumer opinion.
Of course, brand identity is considerably more easily created, moulded and maintained – but its impact can only reach so far. Brand image is always reliant on a consumer base’s opinions, free-thinking and their own individual brand interactions (if there have been any) and exposure.
Why is brand image important?
In crowded markets where consumers are targeted from all angles with clever advertising and effective marketing techniques, brands need to do all they can to differentiate themselves. A successful positive brand image will give rise to the reason for consumers to purchase from them over and above their competitors or other firms in the market.
What are some good examples of companies that have really nailed their brand image?
There are several companies that have successfully managed their brand image to stand out and be instantly recognisable. Examples of brands to study as you embark on your learning journey on how to develop brand image include:
- Brewdog: known for their renegade and rebellious attitude toward beer and politics
- McDonald’s: known to quickly serve food, and, over the last few years, for their high-quality and free-range beef, meat and egg products
- Innocent drinks: known for their chatty, everyday, approachable tone of voice and marketing (more so than their drinks, perhaps!)
- Louis Vuitton: known as a premium, luxury brand for wealthy individuals.
Consider any brand. The first five words that spring to mind about them are your picture of their brand image. If these are in line with how the business intends and desires to be perceived, their brand image development has been successful!
How does a business develop its brand image?
Establishing a brand image begins with the inception of a business, but that’s not to say many start work to form it the way they’d like right away. Several parts of the crucial work needed to form brand identity can fit into this development, so when looking at how to develop your brand image, there may be some crossover in activity.
To develop brand image, start with the basics:
1. Determine brand mission and values
Understanding a brand’s mission and values is critical not just to developing and sustaining a relevant positive brand image, but also to business direction. Everything a business does should align with its values and contribute toward its mission in order to ensure it is appropriate and relevant.
What’s more, it’s proven that employees who join a company because they feel passionate about its mission are more likely to show loyalty and stay working there for longer than any other reason!
2. Identify key brand audiences
Whilst all businesses should be able to state exactly who their ideal customer is, the actual customer base may not entirely align. Brands should be able to identify their preferred audiences as well as the ones they’re actually serving in order to find a way to appeal to (and continue to appeal to) both if they don’t match up completely.
If a business has review software set up and is already receiving customer reviews, these can be used to complete a persona analysis. Analysing and sorting by demographic alongside brand sentiment can help businesses better understand exactly who is buying, what they’re buying, and how their experiences have been. Another crucial source of intel is your website analytics and social media analytics - both of these will give insights into who your customers are.
3. Listen to consumers
Those who have purchased from a business will - if given the appropriate opportunity to in a trustworthy and impartial way - usually provide feedback on their experiences and their perception of the brand. Feefo’s Performance Profiling tools are a fantastic demonstration of this and allow for a business to build up a palpable and distinct view of what consumers really think in real-time – and to analyse how that aligns with the desired brand perception and image.
When looking at how to develop (or redevelop) brand image, customer feedback is often overlooked because there are seemingly so few ways to extract from it the insights and intelligence needed to turn it into tangible, workable action planning. However, deeper details can be extracted if you’re using the right tools.
Performance Profiling includes three main tools to help turn every-day customer reviews into actionable business insight. These are:
- Sentiment Score: an easily understandable analysis score marketing the merit of current ‘buzz’ and perception of the brand’s image
- Performance Graph: grouping trends and themes raised through customer reviews to provide an immediately obvious picture of common areas of success, as well as room for improvement
- Smarter Reporting: data analysis reports that cut through the ‘noise’ and highlight specific areas of importance - saving you crucial data analysis time.
4. Continually improve
Once a brand image has been developed and understood, the business mustn’t become complacent. Taking customer feedback on-board and working from it on a continual improvement basis allows for constant enhancement and repeated customer satisfaction.
Can a brand image be changed or enhanced?
Not only can a brand image be changed, enhanced and pivoted – arguably, it should be! As businesses grow, develop and mature, so too should their brand image.
The key to enhancing your brand image is to look at the development of it, and of customer service, as a cycle. Using customer reviews as a focal point for business intelligence allows for further understanding of evolving consumer behaviours and of customer insights for tailored marketing and business development that works not only to meet expectation - but to exceed, surprise and delight customers on an ongoing basis. This improves customer retention rates, increases the chance of positive word-of-mouth marketing and maintains a continued positive brand image in the minds of consumers.
Something that is often misunderstood by businesses in their attempts of learning more on how to enhance a business’ image is that there’s no one ‘forever fix’. There’s no one way to simply put out a marketing message and have it always be received immaculately as intended amongst all consumers. Instead, businesses must be truly committed to putting the customer at the heart of everything they do and to improve as and when they can to better fit the needs and wants of their customers. ‘Doing the work’ may seem laborious for firms that have never done so before, but the effort will pay off for the short, medium and long term.
How is brand image measured?
Brand image can be difficult to measure as it is always reliant on the perceptions of third parties who reside outside of the business – and they may not always be the most authentic or articulate in their communication of said perception. However, there are some tools to help with this:
Performance Profiling allows for proper sentiment analysis of customer feeling and perception toward not just the brand as a whole but individual products, services and themes. This gives an overall measurement of a firm’s image as well as the opportunity to investigate further into areas that aren’t hitting the mark and need improvement in order to improve the public perception further.
A Net Promoter Score (NPS) gives a quick overview of a customer’s likelihood to recommend a business to others. It also categorises their perception of the brand as either negative, neutral or positive. Companies are therefore able to identify any areas for change or development and can strive to push their NPS up the scale.
Feefo customer experience surveys give businesses the opportunity to thoroughly investigate customer perceptions and experiences further and tailor the feedback to fit desired or required themes. Such surveys can be sent out as a customer touchpoint at any point of the purchase journey and can help identify and clarify development points with tailored and smart questioning.
Brand image is hugely important and can help uncover whether or not a brand’s sales, marketing and communication efforts are working efficiently. Feefo has a whole host of business insight tools that can be tailored to a business’s unique requirements to offer real-time, intelligent and actionable analyses. To discuss exactly what is appropriate and what would work for your business, get in touch with the Feefo team for a no-obligation chat to learn more.