With more consumers than ever searching the internet for information, advice, opinions and experiences on brands, products and services, it is key that businesses keep their online reputation management (ORM) positive and transparent. A positive brand perception is key to consumers choosing to engage with, purchase from and work with your company, so it should be curated and managed as best possible.
Of course, you can’t control everything each consumer is going to say about you online, but how can a positive brand perception be maintained properly? Let us investigate.
Exactly what is brand perception?
Brand perception is the way consumers think of a business – whether they are existing, potential, or unaffected customers. An overall brand image should be instantly recognisable as the business it refers to and should be identifiable with a product, service, or a set of brand values. Some of the world’s most famous brands are able to deliver brand perception without even any words – think of the Nike tick, Apple logo and McDonald’s golden arches.
How to develop positive brand perception: online reviews
Reviews show potential customers how your products and services have been perceived by others, but, left unchecked, consumers will discuss brands on review websites that you don’t have much control over. When these reviews aren’t left on your own webpages or social media channels, this can make responding to feedback very difficult. However, there are ways that reviews can be monitored that will ultimately benefit your brand.
Businesses should opt for a third-party independent reviews platform that allows for the verification of customers and offers a trusted source for honest feedback. Many of these tools, such as Feefo, offer a variety of business analysis tools in the background that can help improve service offerings and can display relevant, curated reviews throughout the business’ website on appropriate pages.
How to develop positive brand perception: branded communications
Branding is often considered the domain of the marketing department but, in truth, the responsibility for it lies with everyone in a business.
A brand’s values and image should shine through in every interaction someone has with your business – be it a supplier, customer, competitor or any stakeholder. Ensuring that every person within the company understands the brand’s tone of voice, visual identity and set of values means that a consistent and trusted perception can be delivered by all parties. While there is always room for individuality within communications, consistency builds trust and image; customers feel they know who they’re dealing with and know what to expect when a brand always uses a certain style.
How to develop positive brand perception: purposeful marketing
While marketing forms part of every business, it can often be done simply for the sake of advertising – but there’s much more to it. Purposeful marketing is an approach to marketing that ensures all marketing activity is carried out in a manner that helps not just communicate clearly but also allows the brand to develop and grow.
When marketing is properly targeted to audiences and shows how your brand could benefit them, overall brand perception improves. However, excessive, unnecessary, or false marketing can have the opposite effect so should be avoided. Following a purposeful marketing approach can help keep your marketing strategy on track and ensures that value is derived at all possible points.
Once a positive brand perception has been developed… then what?
It’s easy to think of brand perception work as a one-off project that can be completed and ticked off a list, but this is not the case. Brand activity is ongoing and should be incorporated into everyday ‘business as usual’ work. It should be viewed as part of a cycle of continuous improvement in which there is no set end goal or finite measure of success.
Indeed, brand perception is rarely linear and there will always be contributing factors that businesses are unable to control. Many companies go through tough times but manage to recoup their reputation and perception back to the status quo, or better. One such current example is Brewdog, who have courted negative publicity and public perception over the years but who have managed their reputation sufficiently between each controversy to recover any lost revenue.
Realistically, consumer expectations and perceptions often don’t marry up to what businesses are able to or want to offer, but this disparity cannot be ignored. When understood, addressed, and worked on, businesses can communicate with consumers clearly and honestly. This harmonious balance in which brands can satisfy their team and their customers should be strived for at all times. What people think of you personally may not be of concern, but what people think of you professionally at the top of your priority list – after all, there’s money to be made in being and doing better!