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Br anding Essentials

Brand reputation and image

Forbes recently issued its top 100 list of the world’s most reputable companies, so I thought it was a good time to review the importance of br anding and br and equity. Many corporations, including Unilever and Nestlé, are today linking their corporate names more strongly with their br ands, in an effort to build consumer trust.

However, unless you know what each is bringing to the overall image, this can sometimes be a risky thing to do, which is why it is essential to measure both the corporate and br and images on a regular basis. 

Br ands are an integral part of the customer experience; even private labels, “white” products and generic services have names and thus associations in their customers’ minds.

However, a br and is more than just the name given to it; it is also all the other elements that customers associate with it, which may include design, descriptions, colours, packaging elements, perfume, price, personality or images.

In considering the br and element of your product or service and making it more customer centric, there are three main areas to consider:

Perception:

  • Although you certainly have a clear idea of what you are offering, underst anding your customers’ perception of it is even more important, since it is what they actually believe about your offer that really counts. It is therefore essential to follow the progression of your br and’s image on a regular basis, since everything that happens in the market, whether due to you or your competitors’ actions, will have an influence on how customers perceive your own br and.
  • The image of your major competitors should also be followed; comparative ratings are more useful and actionable than just your own ratings, as they can highlight strengths and development areas. The other advantage of taking competitive measurements as well, is that you can keep abreast of changes in the perception and appreciation of their offers, which you might not always perceive otherwise.

Communication:

  • The image of your br and develops over time, based upon your activities, as well as your customers own experiences or those shared by the people they trust. Today this can include information they read on web pages, blogs and social media, in addition to friends and family or the more traditional channels. This adds further complexity to the measurement of an overall appreciation of your image, since it is vital to keep all channels under constant surveillance in order to react in a timely manner. Today’s world is fast-paced and customers will react negatively if you don’t respond rapidly to them, whether by mail, email, telephone or over the internet.
  • Communications and activities which influence br and image include any or all of the following: advertising, packaging, pricing, frontline personnel, websites, sponsoring or promotions. The performance of each channel, both alone and integrated, as well as the satisfaction they offer to your customers, also has an impact on the image that is created for your br and. Whatever communication and activities you undertake, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent in the tone and personality you use. Each customer experience should build towards the same, coherent message, to create a strong and differentiated image.

Image and Equity:

  • Many organisations under-estimate the importance of image and equity, the perceptions that your customers have about your product or service offering. As previously mentioned, what people think about your br and, is at least as important, if not more so, than what you planned it to be. It is vital that you know both the perceptions and the reality, as well as the similarities and differences between the two, if you are to optimise your communications.
  • Measuring br and image should be done at least every two to three years, but can be done annually if there is a lot of change happening in the marketplace. Images don’t move as fast as marketers would like, nor as often as they believe they do, so more frequent measurement is likely to show very few if any significant changes from previous ratings. Ideally before, or at least immediately after launch, the image of your br and should be evaluated and then reviewed regularly to ensure constant optimization, through small course corrections. If you wait until your image is too far from what you want it to be, it will be extremely difficult to correct and will take considerable resources of both time and money to do so.
  • Once the image and value perceptions have been evaluated, it is important to plan communications to either support a desired positioning or to make corrections when necessary. Since perception often starts to weaken before any decline in sales is recorded, image and equity can be used to forewarn of negative performance and thus provide time to develop appropriate corrective actions before any impact on the business is observed.

One final word on the importance of following the images of both your br ands  and your corporation, which is what all customer centric organisations do. A lack of awareness of current perceptions can have a negative impact on the trust and image of the company itself, as for example with repeated new product or service failures; and this is as true with your customers, as it is with your retailers and distributors.

Would you add a fourth essential to the list? What would it be?

For more information on creating the best product or service for your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage/

This post is an adaptation of one that appeared in C3Centricity Dimensions on January 4th 2012

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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