For any company (regardless of the industry in which it operates) it is essential how it is perceived externally – by its customers, partners, job candidates, suppliers or even by people who do not use its offerings but are aware of the brand. After all, brand image is one of the factors that determine whether it succeeds in the market, whether it conducts appropriate marketing activities, and whether it appears to be the right place to perform its professional duties. To check how a company is perceived, it is worth commissioning a brand image study, which is undoubtedly costly but is an investment that should yield very positive results for the future.
How to conduct brand image research? – table of contents:
- Why does brand image matter?
- Brand image research – what do you gain?
- Brand image research – what does it look like?
- Brand image research – summary
Why does brand image matter?
Not so long ago, it was enough to have a good product and a price that matched customers’ financial possibilities – but today it isn’t. In times of dynamic competition in the market, easy possibility to compare available offers, and checking all the information about a given brand on the Internet, we have moved on from looking for a product or service that with its characteristics best meets our needs.
Today’s consumers, especially those of the Z and Alpha generations, become attached to brands with which they can identify, such as in terms of supporting the same values (among others, ecological). When pricing becomes less important, the marketing efforts undertaken and how they communicate with their audiences as part of branding gains.
Brand image research – what do you gain?
Conducting a brand image study will allow you to see how consumers perceive your brand and compare it to the identity you have established (i.e., the so-called brand identity including, among other things, the archetype, personality, vision and mission of the brand). At the same time, you will learn how you compare with your competitors, as well as discover the strengths and weaknesses of your communications. Thus, the main purpose of the brand image study considers checking the effectiveness of marketing, PR or employer branding activities carried out so far.
Based on the results obtained, the internal marketing department or external PR agency with which the company cooperates works to analyze past activities (evaluate the effects and make conclusions for the future), and then develop a communication strategy that will help build a competitive advantage, better communicate the brand values and develop the right image of the brand.
Brand image research – what does it look like?
The best way to find out what consumers think about your brand is to ask them. Image research can be conducted with both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative research usually takes the form of a telephone or email survey (sent, for example, to everyone who has purchased from the store in the past year) and inquiries the consumer about matters related to the brand. You can construct the questions in two ways:
- using a Likert scale – to do this, create brand-related statements and ask the consumer how much he or she agrees with them (a scale, for example, from absolutely disagree to completely agree),
- using semantic differential – this method of surveying opinions is based on the use of oppositional adjectives and the need to mark an expression in line with what the consumer thinks about the brand (e.g., the brand is environmentally friendly vs. the brand is environmentally unfriendly).
Qualitative brand image research, on the other hand, usually takes the form of in-depth interviews that ask open-ended questions related to the brand (e.g., about what kind of person the brand is, what values the consumer thinks are behind it, etc.).
Conducting this type of brand image research is a relatively difficult task, as it requires the questions to be properly constructed – in a way that allows us to later draw measurable results and construct conclusions based on them. For this reason, it is worth considering outsourcing the research to specialized entities in this area.
Brand image research – summary
When commissioning a brand image study, you need prepared for the fact that some results will make you very happy, while others may turn out to be painful and evoke negative emotions (e.g., opinions about your company as an employer). Unfortunately, external brand image is that area over which a company will never have full control – but it can take a variety of measures to strengthen (in the case of positive reviews) and improve (in the case of negative reviews).
The image in the eyes of consumers is likely to change all the time – because consumers change, too – but without a doubt, it should always strive to be as consistent as possible with the brand identity and in line with reality. Drawing conclusions and taking appropriate steps based on the results of the survey described above will help to achieve this goal.