“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin

Brand Perception: What About the Candy?

A recent experience got me thinking about brand perception. 

Earlier this week, my kids followed the American holiday tradition of Halloween by going with their friends “trick or treating”.  For those not familiar with this tradition in the US, kids walk in a neighborhood and go from door-to-door on the evening of October 31 dressed in costumes.  When the neighbor answers the door, the kids say, “trick or treat” and receive candy from their neighbors.  As they were recapping their evening to me, they told me about their approach.  They would meet and divide up into 2 teams.  Each team to go visit separate houses next to each other.  The two “teams” would come back together and talk about the quality of candy they received from the house they visited and decide whether to go visit the other house.  I laughed because, in my day, candy was candy – and free candy was a “dream-come-true”.  The fact these 12-year-olds figured out a system to determine the quality of their candy intake was the true ingenuity.  The value to them was to avoid visiting a house that did not have candy they wanted.

The question of brand image and brand identity versus product image and product identity has received plenty of attention in marketing education programs.  Which is more important?

They both are.

Depending on your business, customers may come to you because of product loyalty or they may come to you because of brand perception.  For my kids, the focus was on the product (i.e. quality of neighbor’s candy) because the engagement level was minimal (1 evening each year they engage for 10 -15 seconds).  The perception of the neighbor was based on the candy they were given, and the impact was whether they went to the house – based on their peer’s recommendation.  An easy customer influence allegory.

The Brand Perception Punch List

The level of influence can be directly tied to the type and level of customer engagement. In a previous post we noted the importance of your brand story.  In this post (a series), we will focus on building the brand story.  To influence the brand perception, you must determine the level of engagement.  Here’s the “punch list” of 8 steps to consider:

  1. Determine the focus of your brand campaign:
    • A product focus
    • A company/business focus
  2. Think about how you will measure campaign success
    • Time
    • Other (revenue, site visits, items sold, etc.)
  3. Determine social media channels to target
  4. Whenever possible show – don’t tell, your story
  5. Story components
    • Determine the message and why it is important
    • Who is the hero (customer target)?
    • What is the conflict or problem?
    • Can you evoke emotion?
    • Put it out and solicit feedback
  6. Manage the message
    • Measure success. Learn from failure
    • Tweak it with feedback
  7. Continue developing the narrative
  8. Repeat as needed

Step #1: What is Your Story Focus?

Starting with item #1, let’s review the process for determining the focus of your brand campaign.  We will take the perspective of starting from scratch (i.e. no brand or product identity or perception).

If your focus is on a product, then a typical approach will be a story that communicates the value of the product to your customer.  Why should customers purchase this product from you?

To outline the key activities to complete step #1 for a product focus:

  1. List 10 reasons or advantages a customer will see value in your product
  2. Prioritize them from your perspective (demonstrate how you know your customers)
  3. Get feedback on the priority (i.e. ask a friend or family member – a few if possible, to prioritize the same 10 items). Try to get feedback from your target age group when asking friends and family
  4. Evaluate the feedback and adjust as necessary.
  5. Take the top 3 (don’t discard the remaining 7, you may need them)

If your focus is on your company (or you), the approach is similar but with slight variations. Why should they come to you or your company/business?

Here are the key activities to complete step #1 for a company/business focus:

  1. List 10 reasons or advantages a customer would come to you or your company – research competitors. Why are you/your company different?
  2. Prioritize them from your perspective (demonstrate how you know your market)
  3. Get feedback on the priority (i.e. ask a friend or family member – a few if possible, to prioritize the same 10 items). Try to get feedback from your target age group when asking friends and family
  4. Evaluate the feedback and adjust as necessary.
  5. Take the top 3 (don’t discard the remaining 7, you may need them)

With step #1 complete, we can move to #2!  Cheers!

NEXT POST: We will focus on Items #2 and #3!

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