Best Practices in Researching Brand Perception and Equity

Jan 24, 2017

There are a lot of ways to measure what makes a powerful business. Some gauge it by the salaries of employees or the company’s influence in the community. Others go by the numbers, certifying success with strong retail performance and impressive stock. But the one thing these different factors have in common is that they are all rooted in the power of the brand. A strong, credible brand is what enables the admirable market performance, revenue, and influence that define a successful business. That powerful brand is the greatest asset any company can own, but how do you know when you’ve got one?

There’s no real way of measuring—and thus knowing—whether your brand is meeting the equity and perception standards you wish to achieve until you ask the person who determines those standards: the customer. In order to assess the gap between your ideal brand perception and the real equity it has, you’ll need consumer insights gathered from both your established customers and those within your target audience who are not yet patrons. By continually surveying existing and prospective customers to understand how they perceive your brand as a consistent business practice, you’ll reap the benefits of ramping up loyalty, periodically retargeting, and capturing lost leads.

There are a number of ways to go about surveying, benchmarking, and ultimately discovering your brand’s true identity. Below are a few best practices to keep in mind when mining both customers and consumers at large.

Benchmark Brand Equity with the Help of Existing Customers

Brand competition is fiercer than ever, so in order to stay ahead of the game, it’s crucial to understand the commercial value that is associated with your brand name, beyond the experience of your product or service. In order to benchmark the value of your brand and set the stage for future endeavors, you’ll need to analyze what equity the name currently has in the market. This reference point becomes particularly important when planning to extend, merge, or revitalize a brand. Customer insights into brand equity will help your team honor the legacy of an already strong name while setting the stage for its successful evolution.

To ensure you get the most relevant and accurate feedback, consider conducting quantitative research targeting customers who are already familiar with your brand. In order to elicit these insights, your research should address where, when, and how your brand differentiates itself across key metrics like purchase intent, uniqueness, and believability. Some topics to cover include

  • Where the brand ranks in terms of preferences when compared to similar brands
  • How often customers purchase the brand, and where from
  • When customers have recommended the brand to others

Investigate Brand Perception by Surveying Consumers

Now it’s time to ensure that your product marketing and brand messaging align with consumer perceptions of the name. Perception studies are valuable to both established and fledging brands. Companies with brand recognition can use insights to develop new strategies or reconnect with what made them unique in the first place. Newer brands can gain a better awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the competition. Either way, without a comprehensive understanding of your brand’s image, you won’t be able to effectively market and grow your business. And in order for your brand to resonate positively with consumers, your products must meet the expectations set by your messaging.

Qualitative research is a great option for understanding consumer reactions to and impressions of your brand’s image. Perception is subjective, so the active discussion and probing that characterize qualitative research will prove invaluable. A great approach to getting respondents to articulate just what they perceive your brand to be is asking them to personify the brand: in other words, if your brand were a person, what would they be like? A few other suggestions for discussion topics include

  • Who consumers would recommend the product to
  • Why they choose your brand over others
  • What words/qualities they associate with your brand

Gaining insights into the perception and equity that your brand carry will arm you with the market intelligence needed to build a holistic brand identity that aligns with the consumer experience. While it’s tempting to glance at social media and product reviews to cobble together a rough estimate, taking the time to research and measure the impact of your brand will keep you on the right messaging path and ultimately ahead of the competition. To learn more about the common characteristics among brands with deeply devoted customers, check out our investigation into brand loyalty below.

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