Image/Perception: A Mirror to Your Brand

In an earlier post we discussed including a loyalty proxy as part of your brand perception research.

Establishing and measuring loyalty proxies is important, but your brand perception research should not end there.  Brand perception research should produce insight beyond loyalty.  It should determine the extent to which customers impressions of the brand are aligned with your desired brand image.  Additionally, perceptions of the brand among the most loyal and engaged customers should be compared to those who are deemed less loyal or engaged to identify opportunities to improve perceptions of the brand among customers at either risk of defection, or not fully engaged

In a subsequent post, we will address ways to measure engagement/wallet share.

Brand Definition

The first step in measuring your brand perception is to define your desired brand.  Ask yourself: if your brand were a person, what personality characteristics would you like your customers to describe you with?  What adjectives would you want used to describe your brand?

In addition to describing your brand personality with adjectives, come up with a list of statements that describe your desired personality.  For example, you may include statements such as:

  • We are easy to do business with.
  • We are knowledgeable.
  • We are like a trusted friend.
  • We are interested in customers as people, not just the bottom line.
  • We are committed to the community.

So, we defined the brand in terms of personality adjectives and statements.  Both will be used in designing the survey instrument.

The Survey Instrument

Unaided Top-of Mind

The first step in the survey instrument, is asking customers for their unaided top-of-mind perceptions of the brand.  This will uncover the first thing that comes to customers’ minds about your brand prior to the effects of any bias introduced by the research instrument itself.  There are many ways to capture unaided top-of-mind impressions.  We like a simple approach, where you ask the customer for the one word that they would use to describe the company.  This research question will yield a list adjectives that can be quantified by frequency and used to determine the extent to which customers top-of-mind impressions match the desired brand image.

Aided Image

After we have defined top of mind impressions of the brand, we recommend comparing brand perception to your desired brand identified in the brand definition exercise described above.  This is a fairly simple process of presenting the customers with your list of brand personality adjectives and asking the customer which of these adjectives would the customer use to describe the company.

In a much earlier post we discussed using word clouds to interpret brand personality adjectives.

The next step in comparing the reality of brand perception to your branding goals is to ask the customers to what extent do they agree with each of the brand personality statements described above.  As with the list of adjectives, this holds a mirror up to your desired image and measures the extent to which customers agree that you are perceived in the manner that you want to be.

Identifying Attributes with the Most ROI Potential

The value of these brand perception statements goes beyond just evaluating if you live up to your brand.  Used in conjunction with the loyalty proxies discussed in the previous post, they become tools to determine which of these brand personality attributes will yield the most ROI in terms of improving customer loyalty.  This is achieved with a simple cross-tabulation of agreement with these statements by customer loyalty segment.  For example, if NPS is used as the loyalty proxy, then we simply compare agreement to these statements from promoters to detractors to determine which attributes have the largest gaps between promoters and detractors.  Those with the largest gaps have the most ROI potential in terms of customer loyalty.

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About Eric Larse

Eric Larse is co-founder of Seattle-based Kinesis CEM, LLC, which helps clients plan and execute their customer experience strategies through the intelligent use of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping, linked with training and incentive programs. Visit Kinesis at: www.kinesis-cem.com

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