Brand Perception: Definition, Measurement, Examples & How To Improve It
Updated: May 13
Learn and understand what brand perception is all about from its meaning, importance, examples, how it's measured and how to improve it.
Table of contents:
What is brand perception?
Brand perception is a combination of how consumers feel about a brand, their experiences and views of its products and services, whether it’s good or bad from what it stands for, values, attributes, associations and more. It helps form an emotional connection with the brand to influence appeal, engagement, retention and recommendations to others.
This is why brands spend time in trying to build positive perceptions of the brand via various brand touchpoints from messaging in its advertising to interactions with the aftersales care team. So, this is where consumers feelings and experiences of your brand form opinions of its capabilities and whether the brand values their customers and views.
Types of brand perception
There are various types of brand perception, the following are the 7 most common:
Reputation – this is based on the values, history and what others have to say.
Culture & status – the embodiment of the work culture and the brand’s portrayal e.g., premium.
Value – based on the views on quality relative to the price such as cheap or expensive.
Quality – meaning how good the brand fulfils customer needs like capabilities or durability.
Visual – this is the appeal of how the brand assets look including products.
Personality – is human like traits that the brand can be described as like fun or friendly.
Senses – meaning the smell, look, touch and sound of the brand’s products e.g., perfume smell.
Importance of brand perception
Having positive brand perceptions are important as it encourages consumers to try out your brand over the competition, helps to build customer loyalty as well as trust in the brand and finally encourages personal recommendations to friends and family, which all leads to more sales.
Perceptions also help shape the reputation of the brand in what sets it apart from other brands and supports brand equity. Plus, in certain cases you can dictate the price of your products that customers are willing to pay if you have really positive brand perceptions like luxury, premium or high quality, which brands like Rolex and Apple are able to do.
Having negative brand perceptions can have the opposite effect with poor reviews, customer churn, lack of trust and decline in sales, which are all detrimental to the success of your business. Hence why brands work so hard in trying to create positive perceptions of the brand through marketing and customer experiences (CX).
How to measure brand perception?
There are 3 ways you can measure brand perception, which are:
1. Brand perception surveys
You can use surveys to track and monitor your brand’s perceptions over time to get an understanding of what your target audience think of your brand. So, in this way you will be able to initially run a benchmarking survey to compare results against in subsequent waves of running the survey, which could be monthly or quarterly. Key performance indicators can also be collected such as CSAT and NPS (Net Promoter Score) along with some open-ended questions to get detailed feedback on their reasoning.
Once you have sufficient amount of data over time you can make comparisons against other time periods (year on year or previous month/quarter) to see if there are any trends influenced by seasonality, marketing, events and PR. You can also track perceptions of the brand’s main competitors to compare against in order to improve or exploit any opportunities.
Also, you can be pro-active in tackling any negative trends in perceptions by finding out what’s causing it and look for ways to resolve this whether that’s through customer service, product features, offers or advertising.
Examples of brand perception questions
Q. What kind of feelings do you experience when thinking of BRAND X?
Q. How would you describe BRAND X to a friend?
Q. Please select the words below which you think best describes BRAND X.
Q. Please indicate if any of the following words/phrases you would associate with the brands below.
Value for money
Q. Now thinking about BRAND X, can you tell us how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements, where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is strongly agree.
Neither agree nor disagree
Is a brand I trust
Has effective products
Has great customer service
Is a sustainable brand
Is an ethical brand
2. Social media monitoring
Social media monitoring will allow you to keep track of online mentions of your brand on social media, review sites and elsewhere on the web, so you know what customers really think of your brand and what are the common themes and sentiment being expressed in order to get a better understanding of customer issues, pain points and opportunities.
By using social media listening tools you will not only be able to monitor and keep track of the number of positive and negative mentions of your brand but it will allow you to respond, if necessary, before a negative review could go viral as well as seek out relevant influencers on the topic that you could reach out to in order to spread positive word of your brand.
3. Online communities and forums
Online communities and forums will allow a brand to gain insight from customers by utilising qualitative methods like focus groups to discover first-hand what are their positive and negative opinions of your brand and why, which can be drawn out further depending on the feedback given and how the debate is going. Therefore, you get a better understanding of what is working and what is not working so well.
Utilising a small select group of people to discuss using your brand can uncover any hidden perceptions that you were not aware of. It’s also an opportunity to explore any particular customer sentiment or themes that was picked up from the other two methods mentioned above in more detail.
Brand perception examples
Below are 3 brand perception examples of well-known brands to give you an idea of how these brands tried to change perceptions of their business in the market.
For a long time, Old Spice was once considered as an old outdated brand of male grooming products (aftershaves, deodorants, body washes) used by grandads. Old Spice decided to give its brand a revamp to change these old perceptions and appeal to millennials by modifying its brand assets like the packaging, colours or brand voice as well as running a new ad campaign during the 2010 Super Bowl with a different message The Man Your Man Can Smell Like, which targeted both younger men but also women to buy for their partners.
The ad campaign used sex appeal and humour in getting its message across. This was a major success for the brand in changing consumers perceptions and having a major boost in sales and market share.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, Starbucks had to a close a number of its coffee shops and people were going to other places to buy cheaper cups of coffee due to their tighter budgets. This is where Starbucks needed to reposition itself and give the perception of quality in the coffee they provide with the campaign ‘Coffee value and values’. This marketing campaign had the message not to compromise on taste, its Starbucks or nothing and you buy what you pay for regarding purchasing cheap cups of coffee.
The campaign helped to reinforce the brand perception of quality of coffee you can buy from Starbucks was a major success leading to record sales revenue in 2014.
Lidl used to be known for just being a discount supermarket chain with really low prices and nothing more. Obviously, there are consumer bias with the low prices that Lidl products were not that good. So, Lidl looked to change these perceptions to become more customer centric, where it ran a marketing campaign called the LIdlSurprises campaign, which challenged consumers idea that low prices does not mean low quality.
On top of running a series of ad campaigns like this one by showing people initially having doubts about the quality of Lidl products and surprising them, Lidl used social media messages from customers as marketing material with the use of the hashtag in front of the campaign name to show what customers are saying about their products and experiences rather than just what the brand is claiming.
The whole LIdlSurprises campaign was a major success in changing consumers low perceptions of the brand.
How to improve brand perceptions?
The following are 7 tips to improve brand perceptions of your business:
1. Understand who your target audience is and what are their perceptions of your brand
This is the first thing you should do, is be able to understand the audience that you’re selling to, so not only their profile like demographics but also their behaviour and attitudes. In this way you can carry out research to identify who they are and what are their perceptions of your brand.
2. Gather and draw insights from employee feedback
Employee feedback is a valuable source of information that Is often overlooked and will give you a different viewpoint from employee’s perspective of what they come across when dealing with customers. This will help garner their thoughts in improving perceptions of the brand and understand the route you are looking to take.
3. Build a persona of your brand that consumers can engage with
Just like a person your brand should seek to develop characteristics like creative or friendly that your audience can identify and engage with, so they feel the brand is relevant to them and the values they carry. The message of your brand should come across here.
4. Create a visual identity that consumers can identify with
Having a visual identity, which could be a logo, character or certain shapes/colours that comes through in your marketing and branding helps make your brand become more instantly recognisable to consumers just like the swoosh logo of Nike and the red colour of Coca Cola. These visual aids are one major part in having better brand recognition.
5. Make your brand accessible through great customer service
Staff are the face of your brand that interact with customers either remotely or face to face, so it’s vital they are friendly, knowledgeable, accessible and responsive to customer queries or issues. Otherwise, this will foster negative perceptions of your brand if they are not resolved due to lack of availability or response. Even regular follow-ups help customers feel they are valued and helps keep your brand in the minds of your customers.
6. Ensure your brand is flexible to the needs and wants of your customers
Consumers needs and wants change over time, so the brand should track this and be flexible enough to meet these needs. One such example is Apple which strives for innovation with devices like the iPhone or iPad, where their customers come back for more and queue up overnight for the latest releases.
7. Ensure the culture of service and the brand are as one
What this means the work culture that the employees of the company foster carries the same values as the brand. Otherwise, your brand is claiming one thing but in practice the service provided is very different from that. For example, the brand prides itself on its expertise but staff are not knowledgeable enough to answer customer queries.
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