Companies that fail to review brand perceptions risk missing the early signs that the business may be in trouble. Brand perception is a key indicator of a target market’s purchase intention. The ultimate aim of branding is to manage what people think about your product or business. However, there can be a disconnect between the brand perception a company wishes to convey and how the public sees the brand. Dan Ratner is managing director of branding and communications agency Uberbrand. He says that “the first principle of branding is that ‘brand is in the eye of the beholder’. Brand is all about perception and relationships and, just like relationships, sometimes an organisation thinks they are perceived very positively but in reality they are on the edge of divorce.” Regular brand audits are key for companies that need to know if their brand is on track or if they need to redefine or improve perceptions.
Ratner says that “organisations need to actually ask people what they think about a brand. That might sound obvious but when you work within an organisation it can be easy to lose sight of how it is actually perceived by the outside world.” Below are a few ways you can conduct your own brand audit.
1. Understanding when to re-define your brand
A strong brand is evident when the company’s most important stakeholders and customers all hold similar perceptions. If a company asks a group of people to define its brand and all come back with different answers, it is time to work on strengthening the perception or re-defining the brand.
2. Canvass a range of people, not just those that are the most vocal
When considering brand perceptions, it is important to ensure that the views considered represent those of the entire audience, rather than merely a select few. Feedback on social media or other channels tends to represent polarised views. Gain a more accurate picture by asking people who have had both extensive and limited exposure to the brand.
3. Consider internal and external feedback
Many organisations fail to succeed because they lack internal consistency. If people within the organisation have differing perceptions, it is impossible to communicate consistent messages that will help build brand equity. Any successful brand audit should offer a holistic view of the brand from both internal and external audiences such as:
- Salesforce or channel partners
- Current and prospective customers
- Business and community leaders
- Influencers and government regulators.
4. Cover all customer touch points
An individual’s brand perception is the sum of all their experiences with the organisation. Every interaction leaves an impression. It’s important to audit a brand across all areas of a business. An organisation has many customer touch points, all of which must be covered. Ratner says that “organisations should make brand auditing an ongoing job for everyone. Every person in an organisation represents that organisation and can impact brand perception. Encourage everyone to share feedback about the brand and ensure everyone within the business knows exactly how the brand should be positioned. These are the first steps to creating a strong, consistent brand.”