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Brand perception surveys: Your ultimate guide

7 min read
Who owns your brand? Your marketing team? Your public relations staff? Your CEO? In a very real sense, your customers own your brand. It is what they think it is. It promises what they say it promises.


What does a brand perception survey do?

Brand perception surveys 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 compares to that of your competitors’ brands.

At a very simple level, a brand is just an idea connected to your product. For example:

  • Simple + Computer = Apple
  • Cola + Youth = Pepsi
  • Rebel + Motorcycle = Harley Davidson
  • Pictures + Temporary = SnapChat

Do you know how many customers recall or recognize your brand name and logo? Use our free brand awareness survey template to find out.

Why are brand perception surveys important?

Brand perception can be formed over time through different customer experiences. A customer’s personal experience with your product or service can spread throughout a market and solidify a positive or negative reputation among those who may know nothing about your company at all.

Brand perception surveys hold a key position in promoting positive brand equity – the value premium a brand brings to a business. Businesses want to maintain high levels of brand equity as this can have a knock-on effect on sales and profits.

As customers have ‘ownership’ over the brand’s image in their minds, it’s important that businesses can influence this. To do this, you first need to measure brand perception regularly, track it over time, and identify what drives improvements.

A brand perception survey is a painless and cost-effective way to measure your customer’s views on your brand. It’s regularly employed by brand managers as it provides more flexibility than in-person workshops: surveys can be completed in the target audience’s own time.

Questions to ask in a brand perception survey

There are 4 core human factors that lead to brand affinity:

  • Cognitive – the concepts that a consumer associates with your brand
  • Emotional – the feelings that a consumer associates with your brand
  • Language – how a consumer describes your brand
  • Action – the experiences a consumer has with your brand

When you design your brand perception survey, focus on these 4 key areas that will help you understand the cognitive, emotional, language, and action factors of your brand. The following sections will describe each area and provide some example questions to start you off.

Cognitive

These questions should draw out the associations that consumers connect to your brand. You can start off with open-ended questions and then tighten using multi or single-select lists.

Example questions:

  • Open-ended question: When you think of [your brand], what comes to mind first?
  • List question: Which of the following words describe [your brand]?
  • Positive to negative scale question: Of the words you selected, how do you feel about each?

Emotional

These questions should attempt to identify the feelings connected to your brand, and if those draw them closer to the brand or pull them away.

Example questions:

  • Open-ended question: What kind of feelings do you experience when you think of [your brand]?
  • List question: How would you describe your level of emotional attachment to [your brand]?
  • List question: When you think of [your brand], how do you feel?

Language

These questions teach you how consumers internalize and understand your brand by asking how they would describe it to others.

Example questions:

  • Open-ended question: Which three words would you use to describe [your brand]?
  • Open-ended question: How would you describe [your brand] to a friend?
  • List question: Which words would you use to describe [your brand]?

Action

These questions should answer how positive or negative a consumer’s previous experience has been with your brand.

Example questions:

  • Open-ended question: How would you describe your last experience with [your brand]?
  • List question: Which best describe your last experience with [your brand]?
  • Scale question: On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend to a friend or colleague?

Who should you send your brand perception survey to?

Try to take into consideration who the best audience for your survey is. The kinds of insights you can draw from your survey will depend largely on who you invite to participate. For example, if your brand is about comfortable maternity-wear, you may choose to survey one (or more) of three different audiences:

  1. You may want to get a wide pool of responses from different backgrounds indiscriminately, including expecting mothers, new mothers, partners, friends, and family. This could provide a 360-degree perspective that gives very general insights.
  2. Alternatively, you could focus on expecting mothers, then women thinking of having a child, etc. in a segment-by-segment approach, sorted in order of product market relevance. Your customer perceptions will then be from very focused, but relevant markets.
  3. You might also choose to send your survey to people from each possible stage of the customer journey. This focuses on audiences with greater involvement and brand affinity, shown by increased sales activity. In our maternity wear business example, the survey could be given to:
  • Non-customers that have no knowledge of your brand
  • New customers who have experienced it for the first time
  • Current customers have the experience of purchasing a product
  • Long-term repeat customers that enjoy using your brand
  • Former customers that did not enjoy using your brand

In this way, you would gain customer perceptions from different perspectives along the customer sales cycle, helping you focus on process and product improvements.

Each of these three approaches provides unique and valuable insights.

Getting started with a brand perception study

Brand perception surveys have three main outcomes:

  1. Understand the impact of your marketing campaigns on brand perception.
  2. Resolve the gap between the brand qualities you want to portray and how the customer actually feels.
  3. Identify areas for improvement based on customer perceptions.

Tracking and managing these three stages can be hard to do without an intuitive solution.

The Qualtrics Brand Perception Study is a solution that gives a 360-degree understanding of how effective your marketing and messaging is. It’s an all-in-one product that helps you:

  • Understand if your product experience is aligned with your brand values.
  • Track how well consumers are accepting the ideas you try to associate with your brand. The ideas they associate with your brand help determine their affinity towards it.
  • Measure how your brand is positioned against relative competitors.

Watch a video about the Qualtrics Brand Perception Study

Prebuilt reports, like below, show you instant analysis of your data, so you can spend more time delivering results.

Over time, results can be monitored and compared to see how your brand perception changes across different audiences.

Better understand the health of your brand with our free brand awareness survey template