7 Bs of Branding Series (Part 2) – Brand Perception

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is also true for business. People view brands according to their own discernment. This is what we call brand perception. Customers’ opinions of a product or service differ from those of the company that owns the brand. And regardless of how good a product or service may or may not be, consumers’ perceptions of brands influence their purchasing decisions.
Consumers form feelings about a brand based on what the brands say and how they say it. As a result, it is critical for businesses to understand what people truly believe about their brand and whether it aligns with the image they want to portray.
Digital marketing is a key component of building a sustainable and positive brand perception, and social media influencing business model supports this. The audience will believe in a brand (in this case an influencer) based on how it portrays itself. The whole aim is portraying a certain image in order for people to take notice and brands to engage them.
Everything about being a social media influencer is based on perception: WHAT the audience will see, WHEN to post, WHOM to be seen with, WHERE to go, HOW to dress right down to what one eats and drinks. Perception is key.
Other factors that contribute to this perception are:
1. Tone and Messaging
People do not make decisions based solely on reasoning. Instead, emotions drive them, hence it is vital to utilise the appropriate tone and include emotional clues in communicating. Therefore, in order to drive brand perception, marketers must produce advertising that weaves in powerful emotions. One wrong word or phrase can cause an upset.
Years ago, Orange Botswana posted an ad using a Setswana proverb which caused much upset. Their intention, I believe, was to use the vernacular in order to appeal to the ordinary Motswana. Marketers must balance customer reactions with the context of the message to avoid customers associating the brand with a bad emotion.
2. Experience
I recently gave News Café Gaborone a low rate on Google maps. Within a day, they responded and asked that I shared my experience in depth. My rating was based on unsatisfactory service, but their response and willingness to make amends slightly shifted my perception of the brand to a more positive one.
Through such interactions, brands earn consumers’ trust. Earned trust makes it much more likely that they will choose your brand over your competitors. They are also more inclined to speak favourably about your company or show loyalty and advocacy.
Most importantly, to improve a customer’s experience. Marketers should try to connect a company’s personality to customer’s senses, i.e. what they:
SEE- The creative use of colour, font and illustrations.
HEAR – Catchy radio jingles and slogans, e.g. KFC’s slogan Finger lickin’ good.
TASTE- Host tasting events or give out free samples.
SMELL- Scent marketing – use of a carefully selected fragrance that is diffused at customer touch points. E.g. Cooking in the open where people pass by, chances are that the smell of food will lure them into your space.
3. Word of mouth
Based on other people’s shared experiences with products offered under a certain brand, consumers may have a positive or bad impression of the brand.
Consumers are becoming more vocal about their experiences with products and services received. Brands shouldn’t take comments for granted. Platforms like Consumer Watchdog and social media in general give consumers the chance to do so. A simple, short dialogue via a comment section or DM can make consumers see the brand in a positive light.
Ever wondered why brands spend obscene amounts of money on sponsorships, events, branding materials, advertising and social media marketing? It is not always about trying to make a sale or product awareness. Most of the time, marketers’ strategies are initiated to improve brand perception.
But it is difficult to change consumers’ beliefs once they have formed a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral. That is why it is critical for businesses to assess, measure and continuously improve brand perception.