A Look at the Relationship Between Brand Image and Customer Perception

Larry Alton
Indepedent Business Consultant
Freelance
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As you well know, branding pervades every aspect of your business. There is no aspect of your company that operates without branding; however, you could argue that no relationship is stronger than the connection between brand image and customer perception. If you want to enhance your relationship with customers and drive lasting loyalty, you must pay attention to the brand image you’re creating.

The Impact of Branding

There’s perhaps no better example of the relationship between branding and customer perception than Super Bowl commercials. Each year, companies invest millions of dollars into brief 30 and 60 second spots during the broadcast coverage of the Super Bowl. But the question is, why do they spend so much money on these commercials?

Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t spending millions of dollars in hopes that they’ll see an immediate uptick in product sales. Sure, product sales may increase in the days after a Super Bowl commercial, but that’s not the return marketers are looking for. What they’re really hoping for is lasting relevance.

“The bottom line is that companies would not spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot if the spot didn’t have any lasting relevance on the brand,” writes Peggy Carlaw, founder of Impact Learning Systems. Companies are investing in funny, clever, sentimental, risqué ads with the ultimate goal of driving an emotional response and enhancing the customer perception around their brand.

Enhancing Your Brand Image the Right Way

The question is, do you have an accurate understanding of the relationship between brand image and customer perception? If you think brand image is all about increasing sales, your understanding is slightly skewed. Yes, the ultimate goal is to grow sales; however, before sales come, you must leave a positive impression on your target market.

Here are a few thoughts to consider when you think about how you can enhance your company’s brand image with customer perception in mind:

  • Establish a voice. The first thing you need to do is establish your brand voice. In order to do so, you’ll need to ask some guiding questions. What are your company’s top characteristics? What makes your business unique? What problems does your business solve? The answers to these questions will guide you in establishing a specific voice.
  • Focus on quality. In the long run, quality is always better than price. In other words, if you’re going to invest in a brand image that customers resonate with, you need to increase your perceived quality. When interacting with customers, focus on the quality of the products and services, as opposed to highlighting price points.
  • Aim for name recall. The number one goal for a marketer should be to enhance the brand in such a way that customers recall the brand when asked about the respective product category. “A high level of brand awareness can keep your brands coming up in consumers' conversations, on social media and in a range of settings that serve to spread word-of-mouth advertising,” David Ingram of Demand Media reminds us.
  • Be flexible. You cannot build a positive brand image and enhance customer perceptions by following a script. You must be flexible. Your brand isn’t a static entity that only fits a specific mold. If you want to connect with customers, you must be willing to evolve. From a customer service perspective, Carlaw reminds us that the takeaway is “employees need to take ownership of the brand and apply it to their specific department and job.”

Putting it All Together

Ultimately, that last point feeds right into the underlying message. Your brand’s image is not an isolated thing. If you want to use it to enhance customer perception – not just drive immediate sales – everyone in your organization needs to understand the significance of relaying a positive brand image.

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