JUNE 2020

What is Brand Image?

SARAH L. / Branding

Growing up, you must’ve noticed that every high school has its own cliques that are well known in their playing field. With their unique blend of styles, interests, values and ways, these cliques were all about having an image that makes their own place in the high school hierarchy. To be on the top, they needed to have a background, dressing sense, aura and personality that was attractive and unmissable. And to retain their position, they needed to consistently shine in the limelight.

In the same way for brands, there’s a hierarchy at work, and the field is just as unleveled. Only this time instead of fellow students, it is your customers who form an image of your brand that sets you apart and cements your place in the brandosphere. So the million-dollar question is – what is brand image really? Let’s find out.

All that you do with your brand – conceptualization, marketing, customer service and everything in between – adds to your customers’ experience like adding wooden blocks in Jenga – one false move and it can all come crumbling down. So to ensure that your brand comes across as someone who solves problems and makes people happy, you need to have a brand image that drives people in like a moth to a flame.

Does Brand Image matter?

In case the above didn’t make any sense – yes, of course! Brand image matters. There are a ton of brands in the market, so customers associate with them differently based on their image. And if your brand manages to charm them, you not only get loyal evangelists and a great reputation, but also incentives like –

  • Increased revenue – Your customers’ buying decisions are founded on their perceived image of your brand. They not only buy your products but also the image they associate with them (no wonder we are so obsessed with luxury brands).
  • Referrals – Your brand image gets found in two ways: direct engagement, and word of mouth. You do the first one right, and the second automatically follows. Once your customers engage and validate your brand personally, they would be happy to refer it to others, creating a cascade of potential customers.
  • Launch new products – Once a large customer base likes your brand image and deems your brand as credible, you can launch new products under the same brand name. Also known as brand extension, this concept allows you to conveniently endorse new products through the existing brand’s image.

What affects your brand image?

Your brand image is the outcome of your customers’ perception. And as perception is pretty powerful, you need to guide it to automatically form positive images whenever and wherever your brand pops up. To be able to achieve this, two things matter a lot:

  • Logo and tagline – As they say, the first impression is the last impression. For your brand, the logo and tagline are your customers’ initial impression, and it should be something that persists on the mind. They represent who you are visually and textually – they sum up your brand in a logo and a line. So go for something that both is both powerful and aligns with your brand values. For instance, Apple’s logo and tagline reveal that they think different than others to attract their customers.

  • Customer experience – Everything that you do or don’t do with your brand shapes your customer experience. Besides physical comfort, your customers also needs to feel emotional satisfaction to get a holistic experience with your brand. Persistently positive experiences with your brand pave the way for trust and loyalty. They start to not think twice before returning back and recommending you to others, giving rise to a positive feedback loop that benefits both the brand and its customers. You can imagine why the phrase “Customer is King” is so popular – it’s because they are what rule over your brand image, and ultimately, your brand’s future.

How to have a strong brand image?

Your brand image helps you track how far you’ve succeeded in delivering your value proposition. A strong brand image goes a long way to establish your brand’s reputation, which in turn affects your sales and generates referrals. So look out for these tips that will come in handy to develop your image and ensure that your brand feels good to your customers.

Tip #1 – Identifying the target audience

Identifying your target audience is the first step towards catching their attention. Studying your customers’ demographics, physical background, and emotional needs allow you to connect with them on an intimate level. Inferring from these insights, you can craft personalized experiences for your customers. Knowing your target audiences thus enables you to develop strategies that provide a wholesome experience.

Tip #2 – Setting up goals

Setting up goals is a valuable exercise, especially when it concerns your brand image. You require long term business goals to exceed your customers’ expectations and reap the benefits. So having a well-defined brand identity model is not enough. Aligning your brand identity with your services allows you to influence your customers’ perceptions.

Tip #3 – Developing brand personas

Once you have determined your target audience and business goals, you need to develop brand personas. A brand persona consists of attitude, personality traits, and desires that are modeled on your potential customers. Providing you with in-depth insight about your customers and their desires, brand personas help you come up with personalized solutions for them.

Tip #4 – Creating key messages

Once you determine your brand image, identity, and audience, you can appeal to your customers with a core message. Creating core messages include packaging your values, unique aspects, and personality together to deliver a coherent brand message as a takeaway when your customers interact with your brand.

While you cannot control your customers’ perception of your brand, you can surely influence how you project it to them. As your brand image is perceived by your customers based on their interaction with your brand, they are likely to vote in your favor if it leaves them satisfied. So, when it comes to influencing your customers’ perception, the ball is in your court to win them over to your side.