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 offer, and making it more customer centric, there are three main areas to consider:
- although you certainly have a clear idea of what you are offering, underst anding customer perception is in fact more important to you, since it is what they actually believe about your offer that really counts. It is therefore very important to follow the progression of your br and’s image on a regular basis, since everything that happens in the market, whether due to your or your competitors’ actions, will have an influence on how customers perceive your br and.
- The image of your major competitors should also be followed since comparative ratings are more useful and actionable, as they can highlight strengths and development areas. The other advantage of taking competitive measurements too is that you can keep abreast of changes in their offers, which might not always be visible otherwise.
- 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 web pages, blogs and social media, in addition to friends and family, or the more traditional channels. This can complicate things, since it is vital that you keep them 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.
- Communications and activities which influence br and image include any or all of the following: advertising, packaging, pricing, frontline personnel, websites, sponsoring or promotions. Their performance and the satisfaction offered also has an impact on the image created for your br and. Whatever communication and activities you undertake, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. 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 it is in reality. 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 make most use of 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 often 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.
- Once the image and value perceptions have been evaluated, it is important to plan communications to either support a desired positioning or to correct it 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.
One final word on the importance of following the images of both your br ands and your corporation, as 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 with your customers, retailers and distributors.
Would you add a fourth essential to the list? What would it be?
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