Imagine you see a shirtless guy with dreadlocks, puffing on a comically large cigarette, trousers barely hanging on his butt walking towards you. You most likely would be gearing up for a very intellectually stimulating conversation right? (I don’t think so)
“Do not judge a book by its cover”
You most likely have heard this quote, and perhaps, you have also been a great advocate for this noble cause like me.
Interestingly, the world doesn’t work that way. From the moment you step out into the world, you will be perceived based on the public’s preconceived notion of what your look and attitude represent, not on what you think you represent. Hence, as a brand (personal or corporate), you don’t just dress the way you think they will address you, but in the way, you know that they will address you.
But how does this tie into brand imaging? How does this help grow businesses?
There are many beliefs, cultures, and other factors that shapen the way we perceive the world. For instance, a premium brand in one culture, might not be the same in another.
…don’t just dress the way you Think they will address you, but in the way, you Know that they will address you.
According to Marty Neumeier in his book “The Brand Gap”, a brand is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization” it is not a logo, it is not the product or even what you believe it to be. It is what the external publics say it is.
Hence, the question isn’t, “what am I?” but “how can I position myself to be perceived the way I want to?” This process is obviously harder, but the long-term benefits totally worth it. Notice I said long-Term Benefits, this is because:
From ideation to understanding the psychology of your preferred population (Target Audience), to creating products or services that cater to their ideologies, and crafting cunning communication that will address them, it is no small job to create a brand image.
It takes the perfect plan. It takes consistency. It takes time. Why? Because you are not speaking to their logic, you are speaking to their emotions. You are speaking to the way they see themselves and believe the world works.
To take in your product takes trust and trust takes time to build. There is no shortcut to this step (no, not even promos and discounts). The reason is that as human beings we make our decisions from a more emotional place than we like to believe. The only way to have a long-lasting positive image is to create an emotional connection to your preferred audience, and that may take longer than expected.
Remember that the function of your brand will attract them, but the emotion will retain them.
When building a solid brand image, we often expect an instant return on investment. Truthfully, It makes complete sense, that something as tasking as building a brand image should instantly lead to returns on investment, it is often not the case.
Don’t get me wrong, ultimately it will drive sales, but it may not be as effective as great marketing and sales strategy. Brand image is for long-term sustainability.
However, this is no excuse to skimp on growing a favourable perception of your product, service or organization. Interestingly, a negative image can see a speedy decline in sales, there is another angle to this (this other angle to this will be addressed next)
We have established that your brand image may not be the top driver of sales. This doesn’t mean it is a less important issue to tackle.
Having a great brand image is a great boost to the overall value of your brand. A great brand image creates brand equity. Brand equity is the commercial value of your brand based on consumer perception of the brand. This enables your brand to be more valuable than its profits or even assets.
It is easy to see how this can benefit your brand, and not only with evaluation but also with visibility and ‘talkability’. For instance, many Nigerians perceived a particular telecommunications service provider to be the most reliable network, even people who are not subscribed to their services. In engaging with such people, you could get such feedback like “you pay premium price for premium service”.
…the function of your brand will attract them, but the emotion will retain them.
Giving a TED Talk, Simon Sinek, a world-renowned speaker, said that the best companies start with their why (Why do we exist?).
Using Apple Inc. as an example, he explained that building a solid brand image means building upon a foundational truth surrounding what your product service or organization provides, or how your consumers see you.
All in all, build from the ground up, after all, what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well. Half-hearted attempts at building reputable brand image won’t survive the long run.
Lastly, remember this golden rule of sorts. If your prospective consumers don’t see you the way you see yourself, you either have to reposition to be in line with the way you are perceived, or tap into their perception, and convince them to see you the way want them to.
PS: Feel free to share your thought in comments below, let us know what you are thinking. Sharing is caring.