The most important factor to a brand’s success is not their own views, but those of their target audience. Consumers decide what makes a business good or bad, reputable or discreditable, of value or of no purpose. If beauty does lie in the eyes of the beholder, then consumers decide.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but where it leads is interesting. Just how can businesses evaluate the subjective views of everyday consumers?
The perception of your brand can be built up across every touchpoint – when people walk into your office or your shop floor, when they see an advertisement online, when they see a post you have shared on your social media, when they have interacted with a member of your team or when they have landed on your website. These individual moments paint a picture of your business to the consumer.
Your brand perception is being defined every day, and knowing how it can affect your sales and bottom line is vital. A strong, recognisable brand will draw you closer to your audience and is one of the most powerful business attributes you can possess. According to a large study by Millward Brown, strong brands capture 3 times more sales and can command 13% price premium compared to weak brands.
So how do you know if you’re painting a Picasso or a poor self-portrait? There are many tactics marketers use to evaluate their brand’s performance. Here are just some of the measures you can use to get an insight into how your brand is perceived and where you could improve.
Don’t be afraid to get old-fashioned. Focus groups have long been the go to method used to collect data and information on how people respond to a brand. They typically involve small groups of people, usually between five and ten, who are asked questions and discuss their thoughts towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea etc. Physically sitting down with your best customers, or even those that haven’t had the best experience and talking to them is an excellent way to gauge feelings, develop a genuine understanding and highlight areas for improvement.
On a larger scale, developing brand communities via online forums allows brands to listen and gain valuable insights from customers. Especially in B2B2C supply chains, where manufacturers often struggle to get feedback from the end consumer, as they only communicate with the distributors or retailers. Digital channels can really help bridge this gap, which will not only strengthen the brand but can also greatly influence the product development process.
Surveys are a great way of understanding your audience and what they think about your brand. Use surveys as an opportunity to ask the participating people about what they like, what they dislike and what makes their life easier? Sites like SurveyMonkey are excellent for hosting fast, simple surveys but try to treat it like a large, remote focus group and encourage open, truthful responses to get maximum value. Taking the results of this on board can help you improve your brand for the better.
If you need a hand, turn to consumer insight specialists. Whether you hire internally or form partnerships with other companies, the people in these positions look at the behaviour of your consumers and conduct surveys that provide valuable insight into the latest buying trends and media habits. Their role can include the tracking of all brand communications, enabling the measurement of campaigns, as well as fine tuning to maximise their performance, even having them hold and analyse surveys can provide actionable results.
These are websites, apps and software that allow you to track activity across social media platforms. They can measure performance and analyse engagement across all your social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Many of these tools also allow you to monitor your competitors' activities in the wider market. The variety of tools, both paid and free, is extensive but even harnessing the analytics of the social networks themselves can be useful.
Take Twitter’s search function, you can quickly find brand mentions and the tone of the message. Simple, but effective. Twitter, Facebook Pages and Instagram business pages all offer analytics to measure the performance (chiefly impressions and engagements) of your social messaging. They also provide insights that highlight demographic information so you can find out more about your audience. Both of these will only log data from when you activate them, so don’t delay.
PPC Brand searches or “Dwell Time” are effective metrics for measuring brand perception, although measurements vary between campaigns and client objectives.
Dwell Time is a scoring metric that specifically measures the effectiveness of branding. It is based on how long users spend on ads combined with engagement rates. The core of the idea is simple, the more time people spend engaging with your ads, the more positively they have reacted to your brand. If your numbers are low, you’re turning potential customers away. This can be a vital insight into whether your brand or a specific campaign is underperforming or hitting the right notes.
If you’re concerned with how your business is perceived, your priority should be identifying the people who make the judgement, activate your social listening tools and find out what your customers really think. Your second priority should be not only benchmarking current performance, but acting on it. The best methods for improvement will vary on your industry and current marketing strategies, as well as the details you want to uncover, but finding a measurement that fits is crucial. It can move your brand to the next level.