Branding: Perception is Everything
Have you ever sat on a bench and people watched? You can come up with a whole story about someone just by sitting on a bench and observing behaviors, style of dress, and overall presence. Some people make you laugh. Some seem lost and alone. Some look like they love their lives, or like they’re having a bad day. Or, maybe they look like they’re someone you wish you knew. Others make you feel uncomfortable, or trigger feelings that urge you to stay far away. Right or wrong, people leave an impression that leads to an opinion about who they are without even getting to know them.
The same is true about brands.
Your brand is what your company stands for, how you describe what you do so that people can quickly understand it, and what makes you different from everyone else. In short, it’s the emotional response someone has when they experience any part of your company or organization. It is your persona.
Perceptions are everywhere and people are making them based on first impressions—often without ever getting to know you or your brand personally. By having an intentional, creative brand strategy, you can more effectively harness, influence, and control opinions and associations to help your business perform better.
Your brand message and emotional connection to your audience permeates into every area of your marketing. For example, you may not realize this, but it only takes 1/10 of a second (that’s right—of a SECOND) for a visitor to decide whether they like your website design or not and only another 10 seconds before they decide if they would rather leave your site and move to the next one on the search engine list. It’s vital to have a consistent, clear, and positive brand story that leave people wanting more of you.
Unfortunately, you cannot control all perceptions, especially now that we are living in the age of digital communication. Today, the consumer’s voice is louder and much more public. Your customers can publish their own experience with your brand for the whole world to see. In addition, they can quickly access the experiences other people have had with brands similar to yours.
Thanks to social media and the internet, it is more important than ever that business leaders listen to their customers and build a brand strategy around their perceptions. Many decision makers only get feedback from their personal group of influencers—family, friends, team members. But, enabling your business to thrive requires listening closely to customer feedback, then acknowledging it, acting on it, and showing your target audience that you see them as the hero of your brand story.