In 2006, Blake Mycoskie witnessed the hardships children without shoes had in Argentina, and developed Tom’s shoes, a company that gives one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. You’ve most likely heard about this brand and their mission. Since the company’s conception, they’ve given away 60 million pairs of shoes in 70 countries. They’re a leader in corporate responsibility and have inspired other companies to create products with similar business models.

Through this story, they’ve created a brand image that shows they care about more than just their customers and want to do good in the world.

What is brand image?

In order to cut through the noise, you must have a strong brand image. Brand image is the customer’s perception of your brand based on their interactions. It can evolve over time and doesn’t necessarily involve a customer making a purchase or using your products and/or services. Since customers can have a different opinion of your brand, it’s important to work hard to maintain a consistent brand image.

Businesses spend a lot of time curating a brand personality, voice, and brand positioning in the marketplace. All of these contribute to the way a customer interacts with and perceives your brand, which culminates in brand image.

Why brand image is important

Today, many consumers (especially millennials and Generation Z) don’t buy your products simply because you have the best product, but because of what you stand for. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that 64% of consumers say that shared values is the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. That was by and large the biggest driver, and only 13% cited frequent interactions as the primary reason for a relationship. That means, that while you must interact with your customers, the quality of your interactions matters more than the quantity.

How to build brand image

To build a strong brand image, you’ll need to start with understanding who your brand is and what it stands for. This foundational work that helps you to position yourself in the market and win the hearts of your target customers.

Determine your mission, vision, and values

It’s important to start with defining your mission, vision, and values because everything your company does (and every experience you deliver) should line up with your mission and values. Inconsistency in values will hurt your brand image, so you must define your purpose before promoting your brand.

In addition, not only will your values attract customers but it will drive employee engagement as well. Mission-driven employees stay at a company longer and are more likely to be higher performers. Understanding your mission, vision, and values (and practicing what you preach) can go a long way in  retaining happy, productive employees and customers.

Create a brand positioning statement

A brand positioning statement can set you apart from the competition and tells consumers exactly how you solve a need for your target audience. To create this, research your competitors and understand what makes your brand unique. Perhaps you have a strength in an area that one of your competitors is weak in. Once you understand what makes you different, create a one to two sentence statement that communicates your unique value to your customers.

Create a brand personality

Just like a person, each brand needs a crafted personality, voice, and characteristics. Start by choosing the tone and write at least 10 attributes of your brand. You can also make a list of things your brand is and is not. Defining a brand personality will bring consistency to your marketing and brand image.

Identify your key audiences using persona research

If you don’t know who your potential customers are, you can’t craft a marketing message specifically for them. First, you must research you audience and gather demographic and psychographic data on them. Then, you segment them to create three to five fictional representations of your target customers. Understanding your buyer personas and audiences is key to portraying the right image for your brand.

How to measure brand image

There are multiple ways you can measure brand perception and how consumers feel about your brand.

Surveys

There are many types of surveys companies use to monitor their brand image, but the most common is a Brand Perception Survey.

These help you understand how your brand is perceived in the mind of customers, prospects, employees and other stakeholders. They paint a picture of the mental real estate your brand owns and how it is considered against competitive brands.

Examples of companies with successful brand images

Apple

Apple is number one on Forbes “The World’s Most Valuable Brands” list and has created a strong brand image. They’re known for being innovative, sleek, and dynamic and have created brand loyalty by creating an emotional connection with their audience. Their customers are fanatics and line up to get the latest products on release day. They’re also more expensive than their competitors, proving that consumers will pay more to align with a specific brand.

Zappos

Zappos is known for having superior customer support and a great employee experience. Their CEO, Tony Hsieh, has promoted the brand and built their culture through an exceptional customer experience that allows them to spend less on marketing because a majority of their sales are from repeat customers. Even though they’re not the largest brand in America, they have one of the most positive brand images.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the world and this is partially due to the consistency they’ve had over the years. They promote their brand over their products and create a connection with consumers by describing their drinks as vehicles that bring people together and drive happiness. They sell a lifestyle and not just a product.

Building a strong brand image and brand identity isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s measured in strategic interactions, knowing who your customers are, and understanding your competition.

If you’re looking to measure your brand image, contact us today to check out our Online Reputation Management Software and get actionable insights across all digital channels

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